SHINE: QuiltMania Collaboration, part 2

When I searched this morning in Google for how many days until the United States Presidential Election, the questions it prompted me for were these:

So, if we are going to have a zombie apocalypse, let’s spend our remaining days doing some quilting. (By the way, it’s 32 days until the election, as of today.)

QuiltMania and I have collaborated on releasing revised versions of quilt blocks for Shine: The Circle Quilt, and they have released the next three blocks, if you are a subscriber to their newsletter (sign up here). Many thanks to QuiltMania for this collaboration–I’m enjoying re-working the blocks in Red, White and Blue.

Block Four: Red, White and Blue version
Block Five: Red, White and Blue version
Block Six: Red, White and Blue version
Blocks 1-6, RWB

I bordered that block to check for my Quilt Finishing Pattern, and then didn’t want to take it off for the picture. Soon, all of them will have their borders. I know these fabrics look a bit moody — but this line of Minick and Simpson that I’m using, augmented with a few more bits of Moda and M & S’s most recent line of fabrics — really is appropriately red, white and blue.

Block Seventeen: Red, White and Blue version

I’ve also worked up a new block, that is included in the Quilt Finishing Instructions as a freebie: Block Seventeen. I working on another new one, which will find its way in the panoply, perhaps as a freebie for the current extra blocks pattern? Still working out the details, arriving hopefully before the Zombie Apocolypse.

I will be teaching Triad Harmony for the Coastal Quilters Guild of Santa Barbara next week, and while I have two of these wall hangings finished, I wanted to try it scrappy. As is always the case, I discovered some old favorites (the silvery leaves and the happy sun faces) and some new favorites (the plaid border) lurking on my shelves.

I’m currently quilting it, but stopped last night when I got to the borders. It was late, the book I was listening to got to a stopping point, and I was stumped by how to quilt the final section. Finding ideas of how to quilt something is always a challenge, but I’ll get back to it today.

My lecture with the Coastal Quilters is Thursday night, and I need to have this quilt ALL done by then. I’ll make it, as long as — you know — those zombies don’t show up.

Finally, this really great news. As many of my long-time readers know, I’m a huge fan of this book, but sadly it has been out of print for a long time. I was contacted by the new publishers, Electric Quilt, to provide a blurb for the new edition. You may see my words in their advertising, but the exciting thing was I was able to get a glimpse of the new edition and I was blown away! It’s a huge improvement to the original (although that will always be my first love). I just wanted to give you a heads up that they are having an introductory price that you may want to take advantage of.

I have had days like this — we all have — but with sewing my red, white and blue blocks, thinking up quilting motifs for borders, being pulled along by great fiction, and hanging out with friends like you: it’s all good. Yes, I take it day by day, but the whole concept of quilting is one of looking forward: from purchasing the fabric, to cutting, to stitching then quilting, to sewing that label on. We quilters are good at this.

Utah’s golden Aspens

Happy stitching!

Zooming into 2020

By now we all know what a Zoom conference is, we know not to angle the phone so people see up our noses, we know not to have a crunchy three-course meal on the Zoom chat, and we have learned the importance of the Mute button. That’s the participant side. This month I’ve been trying to learn what to do on the presenter’s side, getting ready to take my regular In Real Life (IRL) program to Virtual.

First up, gather a bazillion pictures of quilts and plop them into a PowerPoint slide program.

Secondly, do you-don’t-know-what and lose the last half of the slide program.

Third, re-construct what had been started and save it in TWO different places this time. It’s all a big fat learning curve. I did watch several different groups of people talking about going Virtual, and one common theme was the idea that when invited, they said “Of course, that sounds great! It’s very do-able!” Then the admission to those of us watching, was that they really had no idea what to do.

I can relate.

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing the past two weeks:
PowerPoint Slide program — luckily a lot of the graphic arts skills I’d picked up this past year while learning Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher carried across onto this platform.

Buy a ring light and tripod. Figure it out. That’s me trying out light levels and light settings: White, Warm Yellow, Warm White. Or as I like to say, Death, Near-Death and Jaundiced.

In this view, there is a green border around the slide.

You can find that in the Advanced section of the Slide Share tools in Zoom. What that does is put a border around what the people on the other side of the screen can see when the desktop is shared. You can keep all your notes in a Word Doc if you want (see below).

Write notes for the program and rehearse. I did that last night, ring light on, running through the program, recording myself. With the ring light on, practicing looking at the camera, and trying not to freak out, I have to say I did okay. My husband is continually encouraging me onward; he used to coax his grad students through this ordeal. And by the way, the recording will be deleted, never to be seen again, but I’m glad we purchased a Zoom Pro account, so I can rehearse. I’ll make another one tonight, just to keep practicing.

Last tip: I set up another screen right in front of me when I was rehearsing (an iPad will do) so I could see what others could see. I doubt I’ll do that when presenting (I want to focus on looking at the camera), but it was helpful when figuring out how all the parts go together.

If you are a Guild, there are an equal number of tasks for you, too. In working with the current guild, the Program Chair has been terrific, as we worked to move this forward. Not only do they have to worry about getting the Speaker situated with Zoom codes, timing, technology, they also can’t just hand them a check when it’s over; payment has to be worked out as well, and not everyone has a PayPal or Venmo account.

And getting the patterns to them is also a challenge, because of that “not everyone has a PayPal account” thing. My patterns are digital downloads from PayHip, which requires either a PayPal or Slice Account, which has been a trouble for some of their members. So we worked out that the member would give a check to the Guild, the Guild would alert me and give me the guild member’s email address, and then I would send them a “how-to” PDF document and a code to enter to get their pattern. I plan not to do this again, if I can help it.

The contracts have to be re-written, or an addendum provided. I ended up scanning in the originals, adding the addendum and emailing them over. Some of the language I used in the addendum is in the “Zoom Explained” document below, available for download.

All of this post is to say, that we are headed over a cliff into the digitalized 21st Century, and we have to be our own superhero and figure it out ourselves. I plan to do that Lecture next week, the Workshop the next day (more on that, later), and keep going. I plan on my vehicle sprouting wings so I can zoom out over the landscape, and enjoy the view.

Nuts and Bolts of Presenting

After reading extensively, I wrote up a document outlining how I wanted to work my virtual teaching and presenting. You can download it below.

There are plenty of sources out there for the physical space you’ll need to set up. At the very least, invest in a ring light so it will throw an even cast of light across your face. Others have fancier set-ups. Try not to be overwhelmed.

In working with my fantastic Program Chair for the upcoming Guild, I thought it might be helpful if they had a checklist they could consult to make they had all their ducks in a row. You can download it below.

I have so much to learn, as do we all. But I’m actually pretty excited to go forward. In putting together my presentation I could include lots of views of my quilts in the slide show, things I normally wouldn’t be able to show them (like mood boards, quilts in settings, interim steps). There will be good and hard things about our quilting lives in the next two years. Let’s make getting together one of the more lovely things!

Orange County Quilters Guild Visit • March 2020

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All the news is filled with Social Isolation and Keeping Your Distance due to the Covid-19 (Novel Corona Virus).  Yet before they lowered the boom on small gatherings, I was able to visit the Orange County Quilters Guild, the first guild I’d every joined, way back in the day when I first moved to Southern California.  Remarkably I recognized one of the members from that time, and I still remember how nice she was to me in welcoming me then…and now.

First, it’s check-in to the hotel, which was right across from Disneyland.  I loved the welcoming rubber duckie, the pictoral reminders of what was across the street.  I saw these as I met the Guild leaders for a lovely dinner … across the side street, and walkable.

After dinner, we headed to the meeting site, getting set up, with the President and the Program Chair threading my two quilts up on quilt stands for me.  I then visited all the different tables: Show and Share, Raffle Prizes, Workshops, Welcoming Table, and the Block Party.  Since they are beginning their new year this month, this was the debut for the Block Party team, and apparently they are all planned out — with blocks made up — for the entire year.

This guild strings a clothesline around the meeting space, and clothespins the Show and Share quilts to this line, then asks the quilter to fill out a short form giving the highlights of the quilt; it reminded me of when I used to attend here (it was done the same way).  Because Southern California had been treated to a deluge of rain that day, the attendance was down, but the President told me they usually have all the walls covered in quilts, bringing a nice atmosphere to their meetings.  The quilts that were there were stunning and beautiful to see.  I also had to take a photo of Betsy–that was my childhood nickname!

Because it was their Guild’s birthday month, these quilters had made a “cake” with fabric-wrapped candles, which they shared with everyone.  We also had two cakes at the beginning of the meeting (I had chocolate–no surprise there!).

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Because the hotel had warned me that thieves target parked cars in resort areas (and loved the last line of the sign about removing the third row seats), Julie, the Program Chair, graciously offered to take home my quilt suitcases so I wouldn’t have to lug them up to my hotel room.  I accepted, and was grateful and happy she was willing to do this.

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As I was calling my husband to tell him good-night, the fireworks went off right across the boulevard–a whole show of them.  So nice of the Orange County Quilters Guild to arrange this for my visit!

The next morning, I headed over to their workshop, held at the Orange Quilt Bee quilt shop in Orange, and our classroom was a wonderful space perfectly set up for classes: electrical outlets at each seat, lots of space for cutting and ironing — a dream for teaching. It was a full class, and I shared this day with these lovely women; Pam was right across from me (lower left) and I appreciated her sharing stories of her life with me in the quieter moments.

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Once they all finished their center blocks, I had them come up for a brief look at how differently they chose fabrics, and to applaud them for getting started.

Home Sweet Home pattern front 2020

The pattern they’d chosen was recently revised, and they were good sports about the typos that had slipped through the revision process.  I appreciated the input many gave me.  They were really prepared sewers, having cut out and labeled all their pieces so they could just get to stitching.  Many of them finished up their quilt tops:OCGuildvisit workshop_6OCGuildvisit workshop_overall

I so appreciated being invited to Orange County Quilters Guild, and thoroughly enjoyed my time with these great quilters.  Thank you so very much!!

Citrus Belt Quilters Guild Visit • October 2019

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The Citrus Belt Quilters Guild offered their members one of my Two-for-One Classes this week, and since it was October, several of the workshop members went for a Halloween themed mini-quilt. We worked on Merrion Square and Home Sweet Home, which are available in my PayHip shop. Below are some of the quilts in progress:

When Hollie started hers, it became a challenge to see how the value was spread around the circle of house blocks: orange and purple can both read as medium-valued when you look at them.  By switching the camera’s settings to Noir or Silvertone, we could spot the value shifts and distribute them more evenly.

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Linda brought a pile of door pieces, and we had fun distributing them around her circle of houses.

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Tessa had pre-cut all her pieces, and was nearly done by the end of class.

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Now Linda has added her bushes, using her own hand-dyed fabric.  That green — a perfect floating of a color — livened up her composition.

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By the end of class, Lorraine, with nails to match, had created a spooky Halloween neighborhood, with lots of really fun details.

Citrus Belt Quilt Guild Workshop

We had a great time in class–thanks, ladies!

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I arrived about 45 minutes early to the next day’s guild meeting, and the nice ladies there set up the quilt frames and my quilts for me while I put all my programs out on the chairs.  That done, I walked around to see all the program tables.

This Guild, which is celebrating its 39th year this year, runs a full and varied program from “Sew What” (sewing items for sale) to a Charity program with this month’s Angel Tree for foster children, to the other items seen here.

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Because their workshops are the day before their meeting, a group of quilters finished their house mini quilts and showed them off to the guild.  Of course, I loved this part!

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Some made Home, Sweet Home.  Here is Sheryl’s; while she wasn’t able to come yesterday because of worries about the fires in the canyon near her home, she sewed along with us in spirit, using vintage fabrics.  I’m glad her electricity stayed on — because of the fires, many are losing power.

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Linda finished up her Merrion Square, minus a border of the aqua dot and binding of the stripes.  She has been to Merrion Square in Dublin, and used the stripes to echo the wrought iron fence that runs around the square.

Well done, everyone!

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After hearing from all the Program Chairs, they broke for birthday cake.

I liked the tiny hats women wore in honor of Halloween.  I need to get one of those, for sure.  And then it was my turn.  This guild was most responsive and enthusiastic, and I appreciated the interest they had in my quilts and my stories.

CitrusBeltGuild Sign

Thank you Citrus Belt Quilters for inviting me!

My Small World 2019, sections 1 and 2 finished

Cartoon_playwith the puppy

In my Instagram search box, sometimes the bots throw interesting things up there for me to see — like this cartoon of the sad, then very happy dog, courtesy of a little tender care from a young child.  Coming into the year 2019, I had three quilts who were like the dog in the first frame of the cartoon: miserable, the quilts quite possibly headed for the dustbin to be put out their misery.  But like the young child who was “on it,” the first (Plitvice) has been completed, the second (Sing for Joy) is finished and awaiting photography and a blog post.  The third…well, here’s the first frame photo of it, when I left it several years ago:

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First, a detour.

Intrigued by what qualities would most accurately predict outstanding achievement, Harvard researcher Angela Duckworth isolated two qualities:

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So what does it take for a quilter to look at a seemingly failed project, and decide to figure out how to redeem it, to re-work it, to finish it up.  Sometimes I don’t have a clue why we finish some quilts.  I’ve seen a lot that might have better been abandoned, mine own included.  But perhaps the idea of “grit,” which Duckworth articulated so well in her TED talk, might have something to do with it.  For what we do in our workrooms is somewhat about thread and cloth, but other times, it’s a microcosm of the world outside our sewing room doors.  Okay, back to gritting my teeth and tearing apart a half-built, unhappy quilt.

Moving On...Part I

The first step is to balance the value of the buildings.  If you see the first example, they are all about the same value (light-to-dark) grey fabric, even though they are different prints.  And too many different windows!!  In the new version, I used the same fabric for the bulk of my windows (excepting the “apartment” on the lower left), cutting from different places in the fabric to get a different look.  I’m much happier with this.

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I found some pictures of Small Worlds I liked on the web and on Instagram, and pinned them up in the corner for inspiration, as I worked through the next section.  I took apart my existing under-the-building-shapes and re-used some of them, yet adding others.  I also moved around the shapes to suit what I liked, deviating from the Jenn Kingwell pattern.

mysmallworld2019_5 DUOThen there was this choice: in the lower left, which little large-door shed should it be?

UPDATE: I should also note that I find the My Small World Templates from Sarah Bailey to very helpful.  If you head to Sew What Sherlock? you’ll find instructions on how to obtain them.  I printed them out on my favorite vellum paper, but also printed them on cardstock, for tracing in some sections. 

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Finally I declared it finished, posted it up on IG to check in with the organizers of the My Small World.  I passed.

Moving On...Part II

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The before of Section Two.  Ugh.  Too much of everything.  It’s like I opened the doors to my cupboard and tried to put one of every color, every value and every fabric in this thing.

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Auditioning–trying to keep it to a limited palette of colors, trying to repeat fabrics or mimic them in other sections, all the while listening to this:

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I’m learning a lot about grit from the four presidents discussed in her latest book.

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The little record was from a Polaroid swap some time ago: I took apart the Polaroid block and inserted it.

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I wanted the Art Gallery Maker fabric in this section, but it was too blah next to the pinwheel underneath.  So I bordered it with a bit of blue.mysmallworld2019_8

Section Two: Finished!

I sewed the two sections together, and am now back where I started long ago.  But I like it much better.  I really like the small pinwheels section, the same print in different colors (from a purchased charm square pack) used with the same background print.  I studied many peoples’ Small Worlds to see how they were harmonizing, and where it was okay to throw a ton of stuff at the quilt to see if it stuck.  The hashtags #mysmallworldsewcial and #mysmallworld have been really helpful.  (The first one is the current one; the second from long ago.)  And the two leaders, Nicola and Paula have been great, too: it’s always fun to see their comments on my posts, encouraging me on.

Gridster October 2019

As my buddy Linda noted, once you get going on Small World, it’s hard to do anything else, but I did get my Gridster block made for Lisa and sent off.  She’d met Jenn Kingwell (there seems to be a theme, here) and Jenn had given her permission to send patterns out for our group make Steampunk blocks, for her turn at Queen Bee of the Gridsters. Lisa also sent us some of Jenn’s fabric, asking us to go wild.

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Here’s the first batch of blocks to reach her.  They do play well together.

Lastly, I had a nice time visiting the Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild.

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Simone (on left), helped me set up.  This is before it started.

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Some scenes of the Guild Meeting.  They are a small (50 person) guild, but have such lovely people.

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I’m headed here this week with Leisa–can’t wait!

Hope your small worlds are harmonizing, your colors singing together, and that your sewing places are fun and cozy places to be!

Antelope Valley Quilt Association Visit • September 2019

Antelope ValleyQA

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I drove up to Antelope Valley, nearly two hours away from my home, and joined the ladies at a local church for their monthly meeting (shown here during their break).

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It is in capable hands under their president Kathy (shown on the left), along with their two Program Chairs, Pat and Nette, as they showed off the results of their last workshop: Mondo Bags.

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They had many Show and Share quilts, but I only show a couple.  One exciting thing for their Guild is that a local art gallery will be hosing a show of their work, called 3 Layers.

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This a great opportunity for them to have a challenge and then a place to display those challenges.

The program chairs and guild departments were busy before the meeting and then during the break: the snacks line had both goodies and healthy treats for their members.

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Because the Guild is so far away, they allowed me to stay over a night, so I visited their local quilt shop: Bolts in the Bathtub, picking up a few treasures and chatting with the woman who helped me, allowing me to get a sense of what challenges their community of quilters face.

AVQA Workshop Montage

Saturday, we all started early with the all-day Free Motion Quilting Workshop.  I didn’t grab everyone’s photo, but the missing ones are in the group photo in the lower right.  They were an enthusiastic group, ready to tackle their quilting sandwiches with stitches.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the quilters of the Antelope Valley!