Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Placement Matters

"There are many kinds of selfishness in this world, but the most selfish is hoarding time, 
because none of us know how much we have, 
and it is an affront to God to assume there will be more."
~Mitch Alborn in Finding Chika

We are all doing what we can to fight this virus - the bravest on the front lines, the rest of us donating to charities, tipping delivery people heavily, and staying home.

Homemade masks
I made 40 masks this week with my tightest weave fabric for the front, cotton t-shirts for lining, and polyester or quilting thread to sew the ties {because I have no elastic.} With spring cleaning I'd already pulled extra t-shirts and fabric remnants that made good ties so it was easier to switch to this task.

Reinforce corners by backstitching
There are loads of patterns online. I liked the fitted masks best {that look like a brasserie} but DH liked the rectangular ones with side pleats so I made some of both. What I found is that it should cover from bridge of nose to under the chin and from jawbone to jawbone. Aim for the width of your ears on the short sides or it just gaps when put on.

Delivery drivers, grocers, homeless shelters, rehab centers, nursing homes, and vet clinics are among the people and places that can use these to free up professional masks for our front line heroes. Mine went to a collection center for distribution.

Tip: Instead of adding four ties, make two longer ties {16" for each tie end plus the width of the short end} and zigzag them so they can better take the stress of tying. Also backstitch at mask corners to reinforce those points of stress.

Making chicken broth with vegetable peelings

In the Kitchen
It recently occurred to me that I could again make broth with vegetable peelings rather than tossing them straight to compost. It extends the vegetables that must be acquired. My grandmother taught me to make it this way but after finishing college, it didn't seem necessary. Time to pull this method out again.

On the Quilting Front
The addition of pink gives these trees the glow of spring... even though the greens lean to the yellow side. {In my mind, that usually indicates fall.}

Springtime tree blocks laid out with with pink and green

With spring in mind, an apple tree seemed in order. Lovely red and white plaid paired with red polka dots and a large circular print indicative of green apples. My mistake was adding those active prints to the light side of the trees. Instead of a tree, it's simply a mess.

First attempt at apple tree quilt block

I laid out a new one with only polka dots and whites on the light side. The circles and plaids now sit with the green. As you can see, this arrangement works much better.

Spring tree blocks sewn

And no, I didn't unsew the first tree. These triangles are too small and fiddly. I just tossed it... into the scrap bag. It's a learning experience.

I also finished two more tote bags. There wasn't quite enough fabric for one on the left but I made it anyway. It will just be a grocery tote; too small for a foster child. {It was already cut when I switched to mask making.}

Psychologist Mary Pipher wrote Reviving Ophelia about the needs of adolescent girls and now has written this one about cultural and developmental issues women face as they age. In some ways it reminds me of Atul Gawande's Being Mortal and in fact, she references his book and several of the same research projects. Atul's book addresses end-of-life issues while this one focuses on how women age.

One finished quilt, eight totes that took 11.5 yards, plus 8.5 yards for masks makes 27 yards this month. YTD = 47.5 yards.

Please stay safe.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Trees and Totes

Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong. These are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.
~Winston Churchill

Trees might be a possible border for Shadow Stars. If not there they could make a good quilt on their own. It took lots of drawing to determine which variation would work best. How many leaves on each side? How tall or short should the trunk be? Does it need roots or not? And since I want a specific size on point, none of these variations came with easy measurements. Of course not.

When I finally cut some triangles the real work began. It's difficult to get them laid out well. There's too much variation in the top one and the bottom right is too light.

First attempt at tree blocks

My next attempts were at the bottom of this photo. I liked the tree on the left and began to fill in the background above it; however, orange leaves still didn't work as well with the tree on the right so they were exchanged for blue. It needs more tweaking.

Creating tree blocks
The trees don't need as many different fabrics as I'd expected although they sure need lots of triangles. In fact, each block has 82 pieces. Who thought this craziness up? At least this is a good time to sit and sew. It's amusing how significantly the blocks shrink when they are sewn. {It doesn't take much to amuse me.}

Tree blocks laid out and sewn

By the end of the week there are five tree blocks.

First set of tree blocks

I'm surprised how few different fabrics are used in each tree. I expected to need ten or more just for the green leaves but most have three fabrics there {with another three or four in the background.} They also take a very light hand with the accent colors. Good practice for me who always thinks more is better.

Tote Bags
With all the extra cleaning, an older stack emerged. Tote bags - good for groceries, overnighters, or work bags. Shockingly, the Texas Supreme Court ruled banning plastic bag unconstitutional a few years ago. What a selfish, short-sighted decision that current inhabitants can do whatever they want without regard to future generations. Surely we can do better.

Tote bags

These are shoulder bags based on a free pattern from Back Porch Quilts in Pacific Grove. Each uses 1.5 yards. One yard for the sides, lining, and straps. Half a yard for the contrast on the front. These fabrics have been paired for a while. Now is a good time to finish them.

The purple one is mine; a reminder of our other sister who loved birds and that color. The others are for foster children. A quick way to pack might be a better gift than a pillowcase. I'll make more throughout the year.

Face Masks
We gave two boxes of procedure masks that we had from the last wildfire to the local hospital. They aren't N95 level; just what sick patients wear. Now we could use a few homemade ones to keep from spreading coughs and droplets to others {if that happens to us.} This article discusses the effectiveness and breathability of various materials. Realize that the pillowcases they mean are NOT the pretty ones we cover our pillow with. They refer to the feather-proof ticking that holds the feathers or foam of your actual pillow. Oddly, some is already in my stash and I just sorted our t-shirts. This will be next week's project. Our local hospitals don't want these but making them for us will not take the good ones from the people who need them most.

There are inspiring stories worldwide of the creative ways people build connections, hope, and service to each other while fighting this pandemic. Just like Mr. Rogers said, "Look for the helpers." I hope you are all well, safe, and busy as we all do what we can to help each other.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Lone Star Quilt for a Grandmother

Our ecological emergency demands proactive choices, not reactive sideswipes.
~Tommy Morton

How much more true in this global health crisis? Some countries are taking effective action while others exacerbate the problem by their past and current choices. By firing the CDC pandemic staff in 2018, our president ensured we would be less prepared for this emergency. We see the result in critical lack of testing kits, ventilators, and coordinated response.

We are under a shelter in place order. I had a visit to QS planned but postponed it due to the pandemic. We were already fairly well prepared because we are accustomed to keeping emergency supplies. Fortunately there are also mounds of fabric and stacks of books in my house. My best choices are to stay home and increase my monetary donations to help those in need. I hope you all are safe and careful, too. 

Grandmother quilts are gifted to friends when their first grandchild is born so they have a quilt for all their grands to use. My SIL became a grandmother at the end of last year. That's not too long ago, right? She loves blue so I made a top using leftovers from the farmhouse quilt I finally finished for her. This week was the time to push myself to get it quilted. I'll mail it later.

Blue Lone Star grandmother quilt

What was so hard about the quilting? Nothing. I simply psych myself out at times. The star itself was easy orange peels but the background was another story. The top looked so formal that a circle of feathers seemed a requirement. Besides, SIL will love them. That was the sticking point because I hate marking - which is why the quilt went to the closet for a while.

Finally I rewatched Angela Walters YouTube videos on feathers and fillers. Then I marked an arc on the four sides with boundaries for the feathers. My official washable marker is dry so washable Crayola markers were the next solution. I've heard red and purple don't always wash out so chose the blue. It required a longer soaking but afterwards all was good.

Drafting lines for free motion feather arc

You can see the "wavy" arc in the top photo. After looking at it with all sides sketched, I didn't like the wave so I just eyeballed a normal curve on the go and it turned out pretty well.

What else can you see in the photo? You can see how mark a two-lane road for feathers. It gives me the center spine {the median} and the outside width of the feathers {the shoulders.} The feathers are close enough in size although each is unique. It's certainly easier than marking every one and trying to follow those lines!

The main circle of feathers uses the bump back method but those little twirls inside are normal feathers. I can only bump back when they grow from the base. If they are sewn from the top down, I have to do regular ones. Does anyone else have that problem? Can you even tell the difference? {I can't unless my nose is right on the quilt.} Do I care? {No.}

I quilted the side feathers first, then the inner twirl, then stippled the inside {because I didn't have a better plan.} The corner feathers came next. Then it was time evaluate and determine how to handle the outside.
Corner free motion quilting on Lone Star quilt

By this time I was bored with stippling and decided to add random motifs: clam shells, curls, string of beads, and echo quilting. I pulled these ideas from Diane Gaudynski's Quilt Savvy, The news was on all day and I just kept quilting. That's my excuse for the heavy quilting. It seemed a bit stiff when finished but softened beautifully after a wash and dry. {It also helped that the thread is YLI Soft Touch, a fine Egyptian cotton thread.}

The center of the back is a remnant of the fabric backing the Square Deal. The borders came from my stash. I usually put fabric I'm tired of on the back but I'm trying to up my game. Amazing how nice it looks with reasonably coordinated fabrics. They all have circular designs and a soft blue-green color.

Back of blue Lone Star grandmother quilt

The orange peel arcs that looked a bit irregular on the front appear much better from the back.

Detail of orange peel quilting on the back of the Lone Star

So many blues have been used lately that the stash is low. This binding is a remnant from my dress. With blues and blue-greens it blends the front and back perfectly.

Detail view of blue Lone Star grandmother quilt

Although this top has been hanging in the closet for six months, it's finally done and on its way to the best SIL in the world. She will love seeing her fabrics in a new setting and I love using some of my favorite fabrics to finish it off. Her new grandchild is a blessing and I hope this quilt is, also.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 49" x 49"
Design: Lone Star
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: YLI Soft Touch white cotton thread and Aurifil 50 wt. light blue thread
Quilting: FMQ orange peel, feathers, stipple, echo, etc.
Approximate yardage: 7 yds

Previous post: Lone Star top.


If you have Amazon Prime, you can read the Newbery Honor winner, The Thief, free. It's the first book in the series by Meghan Whalen Turner and I recommended it two weeks ago. I've now reread the five current books in the series and am awaiting the sixth coming in the fall.

Staying home this week I watched Mirror Mirror starring Lily Collins {daughter of Phil Collins} with Julia Roberts as the evil queen. It raced through theaters but was one of my favorite versions of Snow White - more fun than scary. Best of all was the costuming by Eiko Ishioka which was nominated for an Academy Award. As quilters we love fabrics; these are glorious {although I've read they were extremely heavy to wear.} She creates structured clothes that reflect her Asian heritage... at least they do to me. This was the last movie Eiko ever costumed. A 2017 Google Doodle celebrated her. Wouldn't it be great to personally know someone who was honored this way?

Happy St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Pi Day 2020

"Hope is the choice we make to see the light, 
even while recognizing the inevitable presence of darkness." 
~Rabbi Nancy Kasten

Wonders never cease. Pi Day is Saturday and I'm currently working on a circle quilt as it approaches. In fact, the top is sewn. Sort of. Maybe I'm moving forward; maybe I'm standing on quicksand. I'm not sure. But I have sewn plain white sashing and posts to the Shadow Stars. While it's not as visually appealing as the green compasses, it's not lumpy and twisted either.

Shadow Star quilt with plain white sashing

While I consider whether to add appliqué near the posts {and if so, what fabrics to use} I'm also going to think about the border. The Stars are {fairly} precise so improv or very casual piecing won't match. Appliqué borders may be a solution but oh, how I wish I could think of a pieced border that would work.

Meanwhile, here are some light prints that might fit in a border somewhere. I'm wondering how they'd look as part of a pieced border or as the background to some appliqué.

Possible border prints for Shadow Star quilt

I can only find three circle quilts this past year. The propeller baby quilt:

Propeller baby quilt

The spirals on this Chinese Coins quilt:

Chinese Coins quilt with spirals

and Clara's emoji hair:

Clara, a collage quilt
Now that we have the spiralizer apple peeler, we are definitely having apple pie for dinner. All week!

The daffodils are fading. Every time they bloom I remember how our mother told my sister she was born "when the tulips bloom." Upon spying the daffodils in the garden she started dancing around crying, "It's my BIRTHDAY!" And we had cake that night.

Professor Marcel Salathe recorded a lecture on coronavirus for an infection biology class at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne the last week of February. It addresses the state of our knowledge at that time but it also contains excellent general information about how epidemiologists address novel diseases. Just over ninety minutes so get your coffee first.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, March 3, 2020


"Progress is not created by contented people."
~Frank Tyger

Frank may be correct but taking this top apart is a funny sort of progress. And that's what I'm doing. Fortunately not all the seams are sewn but it's still a lot. Why? Because I'm very unhappy with the result.

It's not visible in this photo but there is no way to press the compass seams flat. They must twist or create a gigantic lump at the post or the point. If they twist, there's a dimple in the seam, especially because of the solid background. Even though I trimmed carefully, the points seem to wobble around although that may be an artifact of the seam/pressing issues.

Testing compass sashing on Shadow Star quilt blocks

My choices are to force my way ahead {and continue to be dissatisfied} or to back up. I choose to back up. I intend to have this long arm quilted by a friend and she will make something beautiful in all the white space. A better solution than continuing with lumps and bumps that will make the quilting more difficult.

But oh, how I hate to rip all those seams and toss this idea.

Because Megan Whalen Turner just published her sixth book in the Queen's Thief series, I'm rereading all of previous ones first. The Thief, written twenty years ago, won a Newbury Honor so it's listed as a children's book. Before passing this up, remember Wrinkle in Time and C.S. Lewis' Narnia are also found in the children't section. Some of the best books are.

The king's magus believes he knows where an ancient treasure is hidden. Needing a thief to assist him, he chooses Gen from prison. The story is still as good as the first time I read it. Megan based her world on ancient Greece as countries are rising from city-states but freely adds and alters to create her own setting. She is a master of clever surprises.

Warning: The second book, The Queen of Attolia, opens with a devastatingly violent scene. Still worthwhile.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

This is Going to Take a While

Wise people learn when they can; fools learn when they must.
~Duke of Wellington

I rarely copy a quilt although I pick bits and pieces from many quilts. Even now, I'm not trying to copy my great-aunt's quilt; I am inspired by the memory of it. Thanks to my cousin, this is the same Star block. The way the points fade to nothing always attracted me. That's the focus of this quilt for me.

My other inspiration is the wealth of antique appliqué quilts with circular motifs. I wrote about one of them here. The corner designs of this type of large appliqué block are another feature that pleases me.

Sewing Shadow Star quilt blocks together

I thought the star blocks would be the hardest part but each section has its own difficulties. The sashing is my design {after looking at umpteen-jillion vintage appliqué quilts.} Since it's pieced, there's a seam that caused difficulties when it didn't butt against one on the star but actually overlapped it. Turning the seams the other way simply made a lump. Back to the drafting board.

For once there was extra of the green fabric but I didn't want to redraft those triangles again. So I simply moved a seam line back. {I considered making the green compass triangles longer but that made the block corners into a visible "box" and the vanishing star points... vanished.

Very close up you see an extra quarter-inch diagonal seam but I've decided not to care. I agree with Lynne at Patchery Menagerie - quilts that are too perfect rarely have life. A machine could have made them.

I'm surprised how slowly this is going. There are many fiddly points throughout - within the blocks and against the sashing. My compasses occasionally wobble after trimming and the sides of the blocks may need to be eased into the sashing but it's progressing.

Even though the templates are corrected, there are still miles of small pieces to cut. I have learned to cut a few at a time and sew them up to ensure I cut correctly. Ask me how that point was driven home. {On second hand, don't. The scrap bag is overflowing.}

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 
One large quilt was completed this month and took 13.5 yards. Big quilts take lots more yardage, don't they? YTD = 23.5 yards.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Returning to the Shadows

"Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things; you simply must do things."
~Ray Bradbury

While I disagree with Ray's statement as far as thinking goes, the last sentence is a reminder that was even echoed by Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try." We see that in our own lives as the things we 'do not' pile around us physically or mentally. Hopefully we tackle some of them each day. Speaking of which...

Who remembers the Shadow Star blocks? Who knows why I set them aside? Certainly not me although I suspect it involved baby quilts... with which I am constantly in arrears.

Shadow Star quilt blocks with centers being sewn

At least I appliqued all the centers to the stars before setting them aside. And I pinned and labelled the columns so it's easy to pull them out now that they've been flashing through my mind. The next step is to choose the sashing.

As far as I recall my great-aunt's quilt didn't have sashing. Or at least it was the same muslin as the stars. But mine seems to need something in the corners. Should it be a tiny post of color or something that extends into the sashing and corners of the blocks? Flowers? Circles? Stars? I tested some ideas previously so at least I know red is not the answer and an eight-pointed star is too heavy.

One benefit of setting this aside for a while is the extra time to simply think about it. The shadowed stars work because they sit on a darker background that fades to white. Your eye gets a glimpse of the shape and continues it when contrast fails. So foreground and background are important. And the posts/sashing are not foreground.

What about these very light compass points? The fabric is a pale green on cream. Audrey wrote about a similar issue with her tulip quilt.

Sashing choice for Shadow Star quilt

It would need a different post fabric. Here are brown, medium blue, and a flower on purple cut two different ways. While centering the flower in the post repeats the circles of the stars, it makes the post too light. {Those white petals conflict with the tiny space.} Quartering the flowers puts a bit of color right in the center. Plus, I think those arcs look good.
Possible posts for Shadow Star quilt
And that's how the week went. Thinking can take a lot of time.

Yet Another Plea to Make the Internet Safer
I sound like a broken record but... After six years, there are still people who haven't set their blogs to https. What a shame. There's a simple way to start if you use Blogger. Look at the top right of your blog and click Design. Then chose the Settings tab and then Basic. Toggle "Yes" on HTTPS Redirect. That will send people to this much, much safer way to access your blog.

Http is an outdated protocol allowing hackers to change your content, redirect people to a bogus site, and steal identity and credit information. {Some of us have clicked a link and gotten a porn site instead.} Here's more information on why you should definitely switch to https.

How do you tell if a website is secure? It has a lock icon before the address. Keep yourself and your readers safe. Don't go to any site {including the famous quilters who haven't addressed this basic safety issue} unless you are willing to risk exposing your personal and financial information to every malicious hacker in the world. I NEVER go to any site that hasn't got this simple, effective safeguard.  Whether you're selling something or just writing, if you want me to read your blog, it has to be https.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A Done Deal

"Ambition is enthusiasm with a purpose."
~Frank Tyger

When looking ahead there seem to be so many long, time-consuming steps to finish a quilt. Between that and anxiety about our quilting, it's no wonder we set tops aside. This one is finally finished. It's a perfect size to snuggle under during this cold weather. I'm keeping it.

The Square Deal quilt

As I mentioned earlier I divided the quilt into three sections: the Square Deal center, the sashing, and the outer border. After simple SID around the sashing, each section was quilted with its own designs. The sashing was the simplest - just wishbones - and that finished the quilting.

Wishbone quilting in the sashing of the Square Deal

Binding is the next step. I pulled several fabrics and laid some under the edge of the quilt to see how they might look. I thought light blue or green would work best but chose the pink.

Binding choices for the Square Deal quilt

There was just enough. Only four inches overlap. How's that for using every last bit?

Binding pinned and ready to attach to the quilt

Here's a detail of the binding and back.

Binding and backing for The Square Deal quilt

Quilt Specifics
Size: 71" x 71"
Design: The Square Deal (with leftover Chinese Coin units) and Lattice
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: 50 wt Gutermann light blue, Metler red, and Aurifil white cotton
Quilting: SID, FMQ curves, feathers, wishbones, and parallel lines
Approximate yardage: 13.5 yds

The quilt started with some leftover Chinese Coin strips. Well, they weren't exactly leftover. The quilt they were supposed to become looked terrible. And there were too many to waste. And I didn't want to put them in the scrap bag because "I'm going to use it up now." Haha.

The lattice border was a collection of blocks that never got sewed up. I guess they were in the Parts Department that Gwen and Freddy espouse. They all fit together beautifully {only six extras were made for this quilt and you can tell which they are because the Xs are much wider} and reinforce my opinion that everything from our own stash will work together because we each have an innate and individual sense of color and pattern.

Previous posts:
  1. The beginning
  2. Finding border blocks among the leftovers
  3. Choosing the sashing
  4. Designing the border
  5. More border work
  6. Finalizing the border
  7. Using the leftovers as a baby quilt
  8. The back for the baby quilt
  9. Finished Square Deal baby quilt
  10. Quilting on original Square Deal begins
  11. Quilting continues
We viewed an interesting exhibit at SF MOMA by Turkish-German artist Nevin Aladag who incorporates a variety of musical instruments into her sculptures. Here's a video of musicians playing her Resonator which includes drums, chimes, harp, didgeridoos, acoustic and bass guitars, and parts of a mandolin.

Resonator sculpture with Social Fabric: Percussion in the background.
Both by Nevin Aladag

The wall hanging, which at a distance appeared to be a detailed painting, is composed of precisely cut rugs and carpets. {She must have a very sharp knife.}

The museum also has a room of Alexander Calder's mobiles with several of his sculptures on the adjacent terrace. This mobile entitled Double Gong includes two mallets which makes sounds when the wind moves it. {No breezes in the museum though.}

Sculpture and mobile by Alexander Calder
I first enjoyed Alexander's work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago where we found the Catmobile. {Dada dada dada dada. Who remembers that theme song?}

Chat-mobile by Alexander Calder, 1956.

With all the reds and pinks, the Square Deal makes a lovely Valentine. I wish you all a Happy Valentine's this week.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Moving on to the Square Deal

"Your future depends on many things but mostly on you."
~Frank Tyger

The Square Deal is finally moving ahead again. My machine is threaded and raring to go. This one might be finished in a week or two. I divided the quilt into three sections: the center Square Deal blocks, the white sashing and inner border, and the outer lattice border. Each will have different quilting.

Free motion quilting in progress on The Square Deal

Angela Walters' recent FMQ Challenge inspired the quilting design here. It's looking better as more blocks are finished. Isn't that frequently the case? A little bit looks terrible but adding more hides flaws or at least blends them. Those straight lines are only straight-ish and their spacing was eyeballed but mostly they show as a unit that contrasts well with the curves in the red HSTs.

The first row of the design took a day with sketching, planning how to move across the blocks, and practice drawing to build some muscle memory. The next day I finished that quarter of the center but all four sections were completed by my fourth day of quilting. No, I don't quilt all day... at least I didn't this time. It was good to see my speed pick up as the quilting design became ingrained.

The border was next up because it's a larger area than the sashing and seemed trickier to fill. Better to choose this quilting before finding a filler for the sashing, which could easily have many simple designs. Part of my difficulty is that, unlike the center blocks, the lattice is free-hand cut.

As you can see in the photo below, the Xs don't line up. It looks lovely but finding a design became harder. Here are some sketches:

Border quilting ideas
I definitely want the quilting to move from block to block so I don't have to bury a lot of threads. Learned my lesson on those baby quilts. ;-) The continuous curves on the left mimic those in the center. Hey, good repeat. But... they will never line up well from one to the next because each lattice is unique. The spiral looks more like an Eye of God and doesn't seem to go with anything. However, the feathers on the side look interesting.

And here's what I finally went with:

Final border quilting idea
I almost didn't use this Greek key because its sides are straight and the lattice isn't but finally decided the contrast of straight and curves works, it repeats the straight lines in the center, and I can't think of anything else.

The quilting hardly shows on the front. It's much more visible on the back.

Quilting the lattice border

I'm just starting the first side of the border. Slow going because someone chose to quilt backwards. Instead of pushing the quilt away from me as I move from block to block, I'm pulling it towards me. When I get to the corner, I'll see if I can change directions. Too soon old and too late smart.


The plan last year was to read the books already on my shelf or dispose of them and the project started strong until it was sidetracked by many new and interesting tomes. Isn't that always the case? So much to read and not enough time.

However, several Charlotte MacLeod mystery series from the 1970s and 80s have been calling to be re-read. {Do they count if I've already read them once? I say, yes.} Charlotte writes with a breadth of knowledge about art, architecture, history, etc. {basically culture} in an equally broad vocabulary. There are words I rarely see, used with pleasure and playfulness rather than affectation. This writing style is not as common today {even though there are loads of cozy mysteries} and find I've missed it. She incorporates patter dialog - quick, fast-paced, funny exchanges that remind me of Gilbert and Sullivan.

The Sarah Kelling mysteries of Charlotte MacLeod

She had four series: Sarah Kelling {a young widow on Beacon Hill who meets an art investigator}, Peter Shandy {a New England professor of agriculture}, Madoc Rhys {a RCMP detective}, and the Grub-and-Stakers {a Canadian garden club.} Currently I'm finishing the Kelling series pictured above. The secondary characters are idiosyncratic and the situations are zany. These old friends delight my cold winter days and nights.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Hourglass Reprise

"The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be."
~ Paul Valéry

This quilt went together more easily if only because most of the parts were already sewn and ended up a repeat of the previous one. I thought about making something very different but... all the hourglasses with polka dots were already sewn and it needed to be gifted this week so time was of the essence. Time; hourglass. Somehow appropriate. Plus, it uses up all these specific pinks, aquas, and the second black print in my stash {which has been lurking for a while because it never fit anything else.} There's several more yards of the stripe since I purchased it for bindings. The last excuse is that the quilts will reside in different states and their owners most likely will never meet.

I enjoyed working with hourglasses as both a central block and a border. There are a few more ideas running through my mind {aren't there always} that I may flesh out in the spring. We'll see.

Improv Hourglass quilt 2

The pink with red polka dot triangles were short one to finish the center {more or less} identically to the previous one. I dug through the stash and scrap bags for a bit more to no avail. Something had to change and the very center seemed the likeliest. Perhaps a different block should have been used but the design needed to be centered in the block like an Ohio Star with the hourglasses turned into star points. After cutting the beautiful birds below {which are laid out in the opposite arrangement in this photo} their backgrounds were obviously too strong for the rest of the quilt. A single bird in the center was even worse. Like a wart on the end of your nose. I didn't even pause to snap a photo.

Possible quilt center with bird fabric

One reason I felt comfortable with this diffuse design is that I've done something similar before. Not every quilt needs spectacular blocks. The sashing or the border can grab your eye first. Because we start with the block, sometimes we focus too much on making them the focus {how's that for a pun?} rather than letting them become part of the background.

The quilting is almost identical to the previous one except for SID at the inner border - a more felicitous choice because my machine is home again - and quilted spirals in all the inner hourglasses. The straight lines in the border quilting add a bit of contrast and actually show against the prints. Wonders never cease.

Detail of Improv Hourglass quilt 2 border 

Pink micro-check gingham became the best choice for the border interior. The black is printed with turquoise and grey so a dark grey with pink dots made a good binding. It blends into the black triangles well and makes a simple, strong edge to this quilt.

When folding the quilt for views of the front and back together, I unfortunately lined up the edge with the inner border. Now it looks like a different front. Oh, well. The back is the same fabrics as the previous quilt and that finishes all of them, too.

Border and back of Improv Hourglass 2

From the original mistake of low contrast pink and blue fabrics, these two quilts made a good recovery and have become some of my favorites. The striped sashing helps enliven the quilt but the black outer border adds confidence... or gravitas.

Detail of front, back and binding of Improv Hourglass 2

Again, this quilt was also gifted "warm from the dryer" and the parents liked it very much. For a change, it arrived before the baby. Ha.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 42"x42"
Design: Hourglass
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Gutermann 50 wt light blue, pink, and white cotton
Quilting: FMQ spirals, SID, parallel lines
Approximate yardage: 5 yd

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 
For my records, January saw two finished quilts = 10 yds. Roll on, February.

Enjoy the day, Ann