Saturday, December 16, 2017

More Decisions for Fifth Chinese Coins Quilt

For once I remembered to take photos while finalizing the design. Four of them are grouped to hopefully enlighten my thought process. At this point many Coin sets are sewn. Each column still has three to five sets so some movement or insetting is possible. And there's always the seam ripper.

Putting the upper coin facedown on the lower coin and aligning the left side before sewing means a wider column in the end. When they are sewn the left side is smoothly aligned and the right side is uneven, only that right side is trimmed much. It also helps me remember how they go back together.

Top left: All the Coins are laid out for the first time. It looked good in large scale but the photos shows a horizontal line of greens, some of which are too bright. I pulled greens from columns one and nine then added a few quieter green coins at the bottom of column one.

Top right: Column one now has a long section of light in the middle while column ten has darks weighing the bottom. I switched a set between one and ten.

Bottom left: Better but column one has too much bright blue while column ten has too much purple.

Bottom right: Before using the dreaded seam ripper, I folded out one blue coin on the left and covered two purples with white on the bottom right.

This is the old-fashioned, quiet look I want. It reminds me of my grandparents although none of this fabric came from them or even their era. A bit of bright to liven things up but not too much. My opinion of the whites varied as the quilt grew. They were moved and rearranged more than any other section. Scattering throughout is my final decision.

We're ready to launch!

Thoughts about Mobile Devices
When answering machines appeared years ago I wanted one immediately. Finally a faster way to contact people combined with a more convenient way to receive messages. No mislaid phone messages or depending on sisters who forgot to relay the message. The caller only had to phone once and the callee could pick up a message when she was free.

Then came pagers. All my engineer friends proudly clipped one to their belts, ready at a moment's notice for any emergency. But how many of those calls were really important? I remember them leaving concerts, school events, dinners... just to answer a question that might have waited until tomorrow.

So when mobile phones came out I was not an early adopter. My children argued people could reach me anywhere. That's exactly my point. Sometimes I don't want to be found. Sometimes I want a little "alone time."  Mobile phones make it impossible. Like one of our favorite scenes from White Christmas:

  • Bob Wallace: What's all back of this?
  • Phil Davis: Nothing. Only your happiness.
  • BW: My happiness?
  • PD: Yeah.
  • BW: You know, when you get an idea that's for my sole and ultimate happiness, there's always lurking behind it a little angle for you. Now what is it?
  • PD: Do you really want to know?
  • BW: Yeah, I really want to know.
  • PD: All right, I'll really tell you.
  • BW: Then lay it on me, will you?
  • PD: Ever since the day we became producers, you're a changed man. You've gone absolutely berserk with work. And the strange thing is you like it. You like being Rodgers and Hammerstein.
  • BW: It was your idea.
  • PD. Sure it was my idea but I didn't think I was going to create a Frankenstein. From that day on I haven't had one minute I could call my own. 
  • BW: What do you want to do about it?
  • PD: I want you to get married. I want you to have nine children. And if you only spend five minutes a day with each kid, that's 45 minutes, and I'd at least have time to go out and get a massage or something.
I do have a cell phone and in many ways I like it. But {especially with my sister's nagging gentle suggestions} I've come to realize I use it too much and miss real events. I don't watch a parade; I film the parade and watch is later. And miss the excitement of the actual event. And my photos are never very good.

Tristan Harris believes companies design cell phones to addict us. He's begun a movement to change phone software. He wants a "Hippocratic Oath" to stop enhancing our psychological weakenesses and return power to the people.

Addicted to your mobile phone is quite an interesting read. I doubt companies will change but I can make my own changes. The phone goes off after nine; I practice leaving it behind. We played board games at Thanksgiving. Still working on not taking it out during meals. But I'm not addicted. Ha.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Fifth Chinese Coins Quilt

Jade Snow Wong's autobiography, Fifth Chinese Daughter, relates a first generation girl's struggle to find her identity in both her family and American society. Published in 1950, it has never been out of print and still resonates with women worldwide.

This is my fifth Chinese Coins quilt for #AHIQChineseCoins. Who'd have thought there would be a series of this basic design? Not me. However, the simple structure has given me freedom to explore other ideas. I've found quite a bit to say.

It amuses me that Coins was one of my go-to plans for philanthropy quilts - a quick, mindless way to use up scraps. I made a dozen quickies before my current exploration began with this improvisational version. Now I an enthralled with Coins. Two more quilts are percolating in the back of my mind.

Designing a Chinese Coin quilt with vintage household materials
Chinese Coin quilt using vintage household materials
So what's different this time?

First, it uses household fabrics and old clothing. While DH's shirts have appeared for a while this is the first time I've used kitchen goods and old dresses. It has a homier, old-fashioned, and quieter feel that continues with the quilting scraps.

Second, I didn't differentiate the columns. Look back at Pflugerville Coins where a different set of fabrics makes each column; no overlap. This time the fabrics are distributed across all columns and will depend on the vertical sewing lines to highlight individual columns.

I wasn't sure how well this would work and set a (short) sashing strip between two columns but don't think it will be necessary. It doesn't add to the conversation right now.

Perhaps the top needs a bit of bright green. It may be too quiet. [That would never do for me.]

Designing a Chinese Coin quilt with vintage household materials
Adding strings to a Chinese Coin quilt
Still adding judicious amounts of red. It's very easy for me to overdo color so we'll see how these work when the rest of the strings are added.

I got my Christmas present early. DH bought me a new sewing room chair. The old one was perfectly fine except it no longer stays up. Every time I set it in the highest position, it soon sinks to the lowest one so my shoulders align with the sewing table. The arms on the new one fit under my table but I may take them off. It's just a test right now.

New sewing room chair
Christmas morning I'll act very surprised with my gift.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ready to Quilt

Propeller Baby Quilt
Final decision for the posts is slightly larger circles. Previously they were the same size as the propeller centers which was too small. As Robin wrote, eye movement stops there. I also tried circles large enough to touch the geese but that was too far. {And I forgot to snap a photo.}

Also the bright red colors on white were too strong. The new reddish print is darker, subtler, and {perhaps}mimics the angles of the flying geese. The off-white background matches the propeller backgrounds better and tones things down.

Until now I hadn't considered a pale blue grey. That might have looked good. {Back to my old "rushing" habits although I have paused several times constructing this quilt. What is the right balance between forward movement and thoughtful pauses? I haven't found it yet.}

The red and orange fabrics of the geese repeat in several places. I also paired them to emphasize flight.

Propeller baby quilt with flying geese sashing and red circle posts
Start Your Engines quilt is pin basted
There's a two-inch border around the outside in a soft grey/white stripe. Somehow this quilt wanted to float a bit. If if doesn't work after it's quilted it can be cut off.

Check out Mel's post at Piece, Love & Happiness to see some flying geese with more movement.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science
My niece took me to the Perot Museum recently. Although it opened more than a decade ago I've never been. What a treat I've missed until now.

Quite a collection of minerals including this 1.25 ton amethyst geode. There were rooms of weather, astronomy, and of course, energy. After all, this is Texas.
Amethyst geode and tornado machine at Perot Museum
1.25 ton amethyst geode and a tornado machine

Did you know central North America from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson Bay was under the Western Interior Seaway during the Cretaceous?  The Perot staged a striking display of several including this Fiat-sized Protostega swimming above a bus-sized Tylosaurus.

Protostega and Tylosaurus, late Cretaceous (80-79 mya) from Rockwall Co.

This Dallasaurus is the link connecting the evolution of aquatic mosasaurs like the Tylosaurus to terrestrial monitor lizards. It's always interesting to see fins turn into feet and vice versa. Did you know residual hand bones still exist in whale fins?

Dallasaurus fossil swims above a monitor lizard skeleton at Perot Museum
Dallasaurus fossil swims above a monitor lizard skeleton

This guy is an Alamosaurus. With a name like that, how could I not include a photo?  The cast is made of bones from several of this species. You can see the real fossilized neck behind him near the bottom. It's the only set of articulated vertebrae from this dinosaur. Fossil pieces that large are too heavy to mount; that's why museums must make casts. These bones were found is such a remote location of Big Bend they had to be helicoptered out. I took one of my field work courses there so it always has a special place in my heart.

Alamosaurus sanjuanensis cast mounted at Perot Museum
Alamosaurus sanjuanensis cast mounted at Perot Museum

On the way out we saw this message carved on a bench.

Bench at the Perot Museum in Dallas

Dinner anyone?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

It's a Bird, It's a Plane

Propeller Baby Quilt
Flying geese complement the airplanes. Their dark background contrasts nicely with the light background of the propellers.

Propeller baby quilt with flying geese sashing
Propeller baby quilt with flying geese sashing

But what to do for the posts? What about circular designs already printed on a dark blue fabric? Too dark.

Propeller baby quilt with flying geese sashing and dark blue posts
Another post possibility for Start Your Engines quilt

These small red circles are blocks I still haven't put together from Audrey's Quilty 365. They look like the Japanese flag but seem a bit small against the blues.

Propeller baby quilt with flying geese sashing and red circle posts
One post possibility for Start Your Engines quilt
That blue fabric that didn't work for posts also doesn't work on the border. It's enclosing the quilt too much for me. A lighter border might work better.

A bit more thinking and I'll have the right choices.

Dia de Muertos and Coco
We took my family to see Pixar's new movie, Coco, after Thanksgiving. Craft in America's episode, Neighbors, played recently and was amazingly pertinent to my recent trips and the movie. By comparing Dia de Muertos celebrations and art in LA and Oaxaca, Mexico, it increased my understanding of the festival and enjoyment of the movie. Then the show segued to weaving and dyeing. Turns out those cochineal dyes in 19th c. British uniforms come from a scale insect that lives on prickly pear cactus. After silver, the dye was the most important export in the 15th and 16th centuries. Mexico lost its monopoly on cochineal dyes after their Independence. Development of synthetic dyes almost caused the demise of the industry but it resurges today as people realize many of the synthetics are carcinogenic. Shades from pink to scarlet to dark red are created by varying the original yards and the time and temperature of the dye baths.

When Alamo Drafthouse plays a movie they include a special menu reflecting the show's theme. For Coco that included quesadillas and a butternut squash milkshake.

Alamo Drafthouse guitar-shaped menu for Coco screening.
Alamo Drafthouse guitar-shaped menu for Coco screening.
Although my first reaction was that I'd never thought of squash as a dessert, I do have a recipe for zucchini pie. When chopped zucchini rests with sugar it releases lots of liquid just like apples. Although I liked this in the '70s, it's way too sweet now. Perhaps I'll combine it with apples and reduce the sugar. Ha. Just in time for the holidays.

Linking up with Sew, Stitch, Snap, Share where there's many lovely works in progress. Take a look.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Friday, December 1, 2017

Kaleidoscope of Butterflies #23

Cathy and I have decided this will be the last linkup for Kaleidoscope of Butterflies for a while. We've enjoyed the quilts, butterfly photos, and ideas for creating butterfly-friendly gardens. We hope you have too.

A few weeks ago QS captured some wonderful images of milkweed in her yard: a pod bursting with seeds...

The cottony fluff transports milkweed seeds on the wind.
Milkweed seeds with fluff

and blowing in the wind.

Milkweed seeds in autumn.
Milkweed seeds ready to float away

No live butterflies around here but I beaded one for the second Christmas stocking. Of course, the original idea was to bead a monarch but there's no need to be literal. I originally intended to let some of the felt show like the other ornaments. Got a little carried away. The mitten looks sweet. The snowman's carrot nose is perfect but he needs coal eyes. And it's all sewn down. Oops. You can tell I don't bead much: no consistent style but it's fun to try to figure these designs out. As long as they are bright and colorful, I think the grandchildren will be pleased.

Beaded Christmas stocking: snowman, tree, mitten, butterfly
Beaded Christmas Stocking in progress

Several of the vintage fabric Chinese Coins are sewed into pairs and on the design wall. [For a nanosecond I considered making it completely random, without any layout. Fortunately I returned to my senses.] The fabrics are mostly blue, white, cream, and black although the two curtain cutoffs were cream with light green or red pinstripe plaid. I envision this quilt as quiet and old-fashioned but... it's just too quiet.

I found one purple polka dot remnant from my sister's apron which inspired me to add a few more purples.

Still too quiet.

It got a bit better when I added a few greens but...

What about a bit of red?

Chinese Coin strips from vintage fabrics are sewn into a quilt top
Laying out pairs of Chinese Coins into a quilt top

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Planned and Unplanned Improv; AHIQ 27

The small group met and I finished my two improv pillows. Just as planned. They're small and portable, an excellent project when there's not a lot of room to spread out.

Thanks again to Chris English who posted many exciting pillows on Instagram. He inspired me to try my hand at this delightful technique. They look great in the living room and actually coordinate with the bow pillow I made a couple of years ago. {This one was my first sample. Mailed the second one after all the kinks were worked out. AND it looks so much better after I rinsed it again then ironed while it was damp.}

Improv pillows from vintage shirts and mattress ticking
Coordinating pillows for the living room

The backs have a hidden zipper closure so they can be washed easily. The directions came from Chris Dodsley.

Pillow backs with hidden zippers
Pillow backs with hidden zippers
  1. Cutting fabric for the improv pillows
  2. Sewing the front of the improv pillows
  3. Bow pillow with mattress ticking
Shh. I bought DH a new shirt for Christmas but also plan to return these former shirts to him. It sounds funny to me.

Traveling these days means loads of security checks. I spied a quilt shop when we went out for tacos in Dallas and was amused by their sign:

Dog treat sign at Bernina quilt shop, Plano TX
Dog treat warning sign, Bernina quilt shop, Plano TX

Search and seizure everywhere.

Unplanned Improv
As I was putting the leftover Marimekko binding away my body was suddenly co-opted. Invasion of the Body Snatchers! Cue scary music. Suddenly I found myself opening a box of old household fabric and pulling out:
  • One old sundress
  • Two vintage shirts from DH
  • One skirt
  • Three napkins
  • Two curtain cutoffs
Then I grabbed remnants from three blouses. {Tiny bits of these appear as petals in A Daisy a Day. Before I knew it everything was cut into narrow and wide coins along with some strings from the scrap bag.

Vintage and remnant fabrics cut into strings for a scrap quilt.
Coin strings cut from vintage and remnant fabrics

After looking at the pile I added a few smidge-bits from the stash. [You know. Not a string but much less than a fat quarter.] One fabric was purchased twenty-five years ago and last used in The Live Oak. Time to finish it off.

What have I done? Completely unplanned. I don't need to start another project right now! This quarter was supposed to be time to finish previous projects and Christmas gifts.

Those dang aliens.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Start Your Engines

There are plenty of quilts at my house, all the Great Debaters have been gifted, but I have a never-ending need for baby and toddler quilts. Usually these are made from project leftovers and scraps because it keeps the fabric moving. I rarely tell the mothers because non-quilters don't understand the modern usage of 'scrap.' Frequently they think it's used fabric... or that you found it on the roadside rather than paying good money for it.

Here are the leftovers from Propellers and Planes. "Oh, look, Sally. Look, look." {Who remembers Dick and Jane?} Enough for a baby quilt.

I tried an asymmetrical layout but it just doesn't speak to me.

Propeller quilt block layout
UIKEYINPUTDOWNARROWPossible layout for Propeller quilt

Here's the way I like it best.

Propeller quilt block layout
Final layout for Propeller blocks

Now to find some sashing fabric.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you're enjoying some turkey and family time this weekend. We're celebrating with our usual "Waltz Across Texas" to visit lots of family. So fun to catch up and see what's new at their houses.

The US has the latest Thanksgiving day. I wish ours coincided with Canada's. Friendlier, more uniform and perhaps we wouldn't feels so rushed. Kaja and I have discussed Christmas preparations for a while. We both like desserts; mince and Christmas cakes are her favorites while sweet potato and quince pies are mine. However, cornbread dressing is my absolutely favorite item. We serve it at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Despite dressing being a national dish {if America can ever be said to have one} recipes vary wildly from one region to the next: white or yellow cornbread, white bread, wild rice. People can get into heated arguments which is best. Like O. Henry's story, A Cosmopolitan in a Cafe, we're very worldly until dressing is on the table. I prefer yellow cornbread with sausage, mushrooms, and apples - so much so that I don't even serve potatoes until leftovers roll around so there's more room for dressing.

Double Vision - Circular Anomaly
Here are the pinks I pulled for Circular Anomaly, the quilt I started in Louisa Smith's class last month. I folded fabrics into smaller squares to see what they look like...

Pink and red fabric hugs and kisses on Circular Anomaly quilts. Double Vision quilts
Foreground fabrics chosen for Circular Anomaly

and then cut many of them into kisses rather than hugs. Now that most are cut I moved the rest to the side so I can plan the intersection of these x's and o's.

Pink and red fabric hugs and kisses on Circular Anomaly quilts. Double Vision quilts.
Continuing foreground placement of Circular Anomaly

In the top left, one background blue has a large pink rose. Do you think it looks better with hugs or kisses?
Hugs or kisses for Circular Anomaly quilt block. Double Vision quilt.
Should the foreground of this block be hugs or kisses?

Wherever you are I hope you spend some time with family and friends - in person or by phone. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Beading the Christmas Stockings

Our family's stockings are gaudy, loud, and out-of-style but they are the ones we grew up with. Most children like shiny and colorful with jingles; we were no exception. My mother told us not to put them on our feet. Of course we did... and found they didn't fit. It took me years to realize the lining is a simple tube; it doesn't reach to the toe at all, only to the heel. Thank goodness or we'd have ruined them.

Many wonderful patterns for quilted stockings have been published over the years. Almost every family I know has a set of their own. Whatever they look like, it's a joy of the season to group them on the mantel annually. QS made two pair for her in-laws: one to keep at their house and the other pair if they visit hers. Subtle and tasteful.

String quilted Christmas stockings  with holly applique.
Christmas stockings for the in-laws

But they aren't "ours." So back to bright and bling-y. Or loud and brash. Whatever.

Decisions for the first stocking include the Bethlehem star, the New Horizon satellite flying by Pluto, a Christmas tree, a butterfly, a sailboat, and his Yorkie. This one should have been finished last year but it's only getting started now. Bad Santa!

Beads and sequins on velveteen Christmas stockings.
Starting the 2016 Christmas stocking

Each object takes me two or three days to bead. I'm not fast... and sometimes I'm not too good either. For example, the mainsail looks okay but I'll be replacing the jib.

Beads and sequins on red velveteen Christmas stockings.
Partially beaded Christmas stocking
On the other hand, the bunny is delightful and the tree's ornaments swing freely. I beaded the Yorkie's hair so some of the beads stand up, mimicking his rough coat. Pretty good.

Friends told me to use Nymo thread, made for beading. Check. If there was any doubt, you can tell I'm not a regular beader. That needle was straight just a while ago. Any advice about how I should be holding it would be appreciated.

Nymo thread with a bent beading needle
Nymo thread and a bent beading needle

Two more ornaments to go {plus the jib.} It will be complete once the name is beaded across the top, the parts are sewn together, and bells are added. Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. I'd better get busy.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What do the Fairmont and my Christmas Stocking Have in Common?

I toured the Fairmont with San Francisco Walking Tours and enjoyed learning the history of this hotel. Sitting atop Nob Hill, the Fairmont has wonderful views of both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. Barely finished, the Fairmont burned during the 1906 earthquake but reopened a year later to become a city hub.

Golden Gate and Bay bridges from Fairmont Hotel
Golden Gate and Bay Bridges from Fairmont

The United Nations formed here in 1945; its charter was drafted in the Garden Room. A few years later Dorothy Draper remodelled the hotel using flamboyant colors and luxury fabrics. Her Modern Baroque style was "the opposite of minimalism."

Fairmont Hotel lobby
Fairmont lobby 

The Carousel Bar once incorporated a working antique one. That is gone but delightful murals still decorate the walls.

Carousel Bar, Fairmont Hotel
Murals of circus performers decorate the Fairmont's Carousel Bar

Like Dior's New Look, these exotic fabrics and colors celebrated the end of the war and rationing! After the tour I realized my family's Christmas stockings came from this same era. Bright red velveteen with green apple taffeta lining. Beading, sequins, and bells. More is more indeed.

Velveteen Christmas stocking with beads, sequins, jingle bells.
My Christmas stocking

A family friend made the first one. Then my mother {had to} sew others as the rest of us appeared. They always look merry and bright strung along the mantle. For years I never saw these stockings anywhere else. A family from my home state moved to town. Surprise. Their stockings are twins to ours. I wonder if the original pattern was in a local newspaper or magazine.

When it was time to make stockings for my children I wanted to update them somehow. Halley's comet appeared soon after my eldest so that was beaded on her stocking below. {It looks more like a paramecium.} Then I added a rocket for the many shuttle flights. Thus began began the Heavenly Additions.

Velveteen Christmas stocking with beads, sequins, jingle bells,.and Space events.
Daughter and SIL's Christmas stockings

The Voyager 2 flyby of Neptune is commemorated on one; the Ulysses boost past Jupiter on another. Neither SIL nor DIL had a stocking. His (above) highlights Discovery's spacewalk by astronaut Dale Gardner to retrieve the Westar VI satellite. Hers depicts the Rosetta landing on Comet 67P. That's the purple mass on the righthand stocking below... in case you can't tell. Over the years, my abilities have dropped off and it looks as odd as Halley's comet.  Or perhaps I can only bead planets, not comets. {I also cheated a bit; this is the year they married, not the year she was born.}

Velveteen Christmas stockings with beads, sequins, bells and Space events.
Christmas stockings celebrating space mission highlights: Ulysses, Voyager2, and Rosetta

DIL's still has a blank spot where I plan to add her wedding bouquet. I'm just a bit chicken about ruining the ribbons. Their names (covered in the photos) are written with beads and sequins across the white felt cuff.

With the arrival of grandchildren I'm busy making more. One should have been finished a year ago. Oops. The new velveteen is cardinal red rather than the former deep blue/red but the lining is still bright green. Although I drafted a paper pattern long ago, now I just use one sample as a guide.

Cutting Christmas stockings from velveteen
Cutting new Christmas stockings from velveteen

They all need a Christmas tree and then it's time to let loose: snowmen, reindeer, stars, butterflies, bells. Here are the events I'm considering.
  • For 2015: Discovery of Kepler-452b (possible Earth 2) by Kepler or New Horizons flyby of Pluto
  • For 2017: Total Solar eclipse or Cassini-Huygens satellite entering Saturn's atmosphere
Two yards each of the velveteen and lining will make six stockings. More than enough. I cut all six; they can lay flat at the bottom of the stocking box. The velveteen won't crease and I'll know where to find them... perhaps. {I have become a champion squirrel-er-away.}

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Circular Anomaly on the Last Day of Class

One of the problems with taking a class {or attending a retreat} is which fabrics to take. And how much of each. I'm not sure which bothers me more: running out or "wasting" fabric by pre-cutting the wrong amount. In consequence I bring laundry baskets of fabric. But this time especially I'm determined to try something different.

Deciding a little waste beats a lot of fabric hauling, I precut both the reds and the blues into squares. It was only during the class I determined to fuse the foreground. {It's not my favorite method but makes the most sense in this case.}

As another change from my usual practice, I chose her Circular Anomaly design. {It's the fifth image on CT's page.} This should allow me to delve more deeply into her process and circumvent technical issues. Usually I try to branch into my own design during the class. According to Louisa's plan the background is squares or rectangles. {No waste there. ;-) } It is layered with what she calls hugs and kisses.

In both her book and her class Louisa shows several construction methods including piecing and applique with and without fusing. Intended use informs your sewing choice. I'm cutting the centers out of the fusible to minimize stiffness. Even the best fusibles make quilts quite rigid and this only needs to hold until it's sewn. {I did consider glue basting, something Louisa didn't mention. I forgot to ask her why.}

Progress by end of class.

Circular Anomaly quilt in progress
Top layer arrangement of my Circular Anomaly quilt
Why isn't the lower left covered with reds? Well... They simply didn't work. The blues run from white to navy but the reds only ran to medium pink. There wasn't enough contrast at that end. Louisa and I placed those pink circles on the dark blues and it just looked lost/washed out. By moving them to different areas, I realized where they looked best. That's fine but means I will be digging out more fabric when I get home. {Perhaps I should have brought it all.}

No. I wouldn't have gotten further with more fabric. I'd have spent all my time picking and choosing colors. Made that mistake last class with her. Time to move on to a "new mistake." Ha. This way I concentrated on color placement of what was here. And there's quite enough - over one hundred squares. Including the backs, that's more than enough choices to make during one day.

BTW, Louisa doesn't overlay her foregrounds as squares. It was my own idea to make the single color flow across the quilt. This idea is another coping mechanism from Strips 'n Curves where I used way too much fabric. It sounds great; after all, who doesn't love more fabric. But in reality, the colors didn't segue quickly enough. Templates ended up covering only a single value when they could have ranged much further.

I pulled some pink fabrics at home that evening. Some don't seem quite right but it's late and the color is way off in this photo. The blue tints into white. Should the reds range into a white background Should there be more medium pinks? Things to consider.

Here's the final shot of the evening. Watching the grid emerge in the top right is quite exciting.

Top layer choices for Circular Anomaly quilt
Top layer choices for Circular Anomaly quilt

The Double Vision book is quite thorough on its own. Louisa covers an amazing number of variations on the theme of optical illusions. She makes these complicated patterns doable. When instructions repeat, she refers the reader to another section. Some readers didn't like this but I found it more honest than pretending each quilt is entirely disconnected from the others.

Louisa also discusses fabric, color, construction, and thread in her book. You could learn her technique without a class but you'd miss her upbeat personality, her hands-on attention to each student and her contagious enthusiasm for quilting. If you have the opportunity, take her class, too.

Reading blogs about everyday life in various parts of the world is one of my secret treats. Bookreader blogs are also a delight although most don't last that long. I like to think they've gotten lost in their books.

More recently I've found a couple that share poetry. I'm so well-trained by book reading that I often read cover-to-cover in one sitting. Reading one poem a day in a blog post causes me to stop and think more. Threadcatcher posted Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye. What do you think? Can we only become kind after sorrow? Are older people kinder? Why do some people choose kindness while others choose hatred? How do we make the kind choice?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

First Day of Double Vision Class

Today is Election Day in the US. I voted. Have you?
Democracy doesn't work without everyone's input.

"It is the duty of every citizen to vote on Election Day."

Lots of fun with Louisa and my classmates. One of the best things about classes is seeing the variety of fabrics and ideas each participant brings.

Boy, I'm glad I pre-cut my fabrics. Here's my final layout for a background. Of course it took several iterations: take photos, move squares, repeat. Digital cameras are so helpful in this process.

Blue fabric squares shading from white to navy make Double Vision quilt background.
Arranging background for a Double Vision quilt

Two rows sewed by lunchtime. After a short break we returned to our machines and the background sewing was completed by the end of the day. The colors in this shot are so much truer than the previous photo.

Blue fabric squares shading from white to navy form the background of a Double Vision quilt
Background for my Double Vision quilt sewn

Environmental Progress That Caught my Eye

For years I've known willows are good choices for wastewater remediation. Anyone on septic systems probably knows this, too. Here are some links to articles from countries around the world. {Unfortunately most links are not https but you can at least get a feel for the research depth.}

However, I didn't know about newer research involving poplars. These trees naturally remediate groundwater but often at the expense of their own health. John Freeman, a plant physiologist at NASA, conducted an experiment at a Superfund site in the Bay Area. He fortified half the poplars planted with bacteria from healthy poplars at a TCE-contaminated site in the Midwest. Results show the trees reduced TCE to undetectable levels, pulled out other contaminants, and actually resulted in healthier trees. A better way to clean up some toxic wastes. Good news indeed.

Found in sites worldwide and now linked to cancers and Parkinson's, TCE was used as an industrial solvent and degreaser. It mixes with groundwater and is easily volatilized. That means it gets into the air. If your house is well insulated, concentrations build. In that respect, it reminds me of radon. People who live on granite understand.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Prepping for Louisa Smith Workshop

The next US Election Day is November 7. Go vote.
At Ellis Island I saw a photo of citizenship classes with this instruction on the chalkboard:

"It is the duty of every citizen to vote on Election Day."

There is always talk of our rights but very little mention of responsibilities. I wish everyone would heed this message.

Double Vision Workshop
Louisa Smith spoke to my guild last month about her new book, Double Vision Quilts, and showed examples of her gorgeous work. She has such a wonderful sense of color and is always interested in curved piecing, especially Drunkard's Path variations.

Book cover of Double Vision Quilts by Louisa Smith
Double Vision Quilts by Louisa Smith

You can see the relationship between these quilts and her earlier series, Strips 'n Curves. We were the first group to hear her newest lecture, What If? That phrase inspired her to develop ideas into quilts and turn a series of quilts into a book.

Book cover of Strips 'n Curves by Louisa Smith
Strips 'n Curves by Louisa Smith
During Louisa's Strips 'n Curves class, I made a safari quilt for my sister but had lots of "made yardage" left. Her upcoming visit spurred me to finally finish the leftovers from her Strips 'n Curves class.

Now I'm ready to cut up more fabric for a new class. And somehow my stash never seems to decrease. I think it multiplies like Tribbles.  The two colors occupying the most space in my stash are sky blue and cherry red into pink. No idea how this will turn out but, "No fabric was purchased for the production of this quilt." With this King's X: friend Gayle gave me several bits from her stash. They aren't reducing my stash but at least I didn't purchase them. Perhaps they're helping reduce her stash. How altruistic of me. ;-)

Fabric pull of blues and reds for Circular Anomaly quilt
My fabric pull for Double Vision class

Last time I took all my fabric to cut during class. I won't make that mistake this time. I'm pre-cutting everything into squares. It's a lot less weight to lug around.

If It's October, It Must be Time for a Cold
As seems to happen every fall, I'm again fighting a lingering cold. The older I get, the more these drag me down. We have lots of supplies on hand, just need a minion to make and serve them. Ha.

My mother made tiny dishes of soup, jello, fruit, and sherbet when we children were sick. She brought them to our bedside on a lovely tray. Only three or four bites of each, then more medicine and back to sleep. What a tender memory.

Once when my sons were in grade school I woke from a fever to find they'd left a note for me under a small silver bell. It was so touching to think they were channeling their grandmother and me. Nope. The message read, "We took your TV. Ring the bell if you want it back."

Enjoy the day, Ann

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Kaleidoscope of Butterflies 22, Pillow Progress, and Natural History Museum

How's that for an all-inclusive title?

Although I've seen butterflies here, they've been too quick or shy for photos. My daughter had much better luck at her house where she found thirty or forty Painted Ladies enjoying the daisies. They look like monarchs or frittaries, don't they?

Orange and black Painted Lady butterflies feed on white and yellow shasta daisies
Painted Lady butterflies feeding on daisies

Lots of beauty everywhere. I started more butterfly blocks but trimmed them incorrectly. Fortunately only a few were lost. Unfortunately the parts I lost are the green background which, of course, is the critical path. When it runs out the size of the quilt is set.

Quilt block units as leaders or enders
Butterfly wing blocks
Until my trimming mistake I'd developed a good rhythm using these as leaders and enders. Obviously I need to pay much more attention before cutting anything. Words to live by.

Enough have been sewn that I'm beginning to have design ideas. The blocks will will take a while to finish. Perhaps they will be done by springtime when their real counterparts reappear.

Our bee continued working on the improv pillows. Because it's so small I straight pinned the layers. So much easier than safety pins! The batting is patched together and the backing is the ugliest plaid. Additionally it's a very rough, coarse weave. Yuck. Inside a pillow is the perfect place for it.

Improv pillow top of nine six-inch blocks made of three vintage men's shirts.
Pillow top pinned

The afternoon passed with wide-ranging discussions while I quilted narrow matchstick lines.

Quilting improv pillow top. Blocks made of three vintage men's shirts.
Quilting narrow channels on the improv pillow top

Here's the finished pillow top.

Improv pillow top of nine six-inch blocks made of three vintage men's shirts.
Improv pillow top of three vintage shirts finished with channel quilting in tan.

At the next meeting I'll work on the back.

I spent my final day in NYC at the Natural History Museum, location of the first Night at the Museum movie.  Teddy Roosevelt is still hanging around the front entrance - inside and out.

Two statues of Teddy Roosevelt at the American Museum of Natural History
Two statues of Teddy Roosevelt, American Museum of Natural History, NYC
I've been before and knew it could be a multi-day visit so this time I headed straight to the Mineralogy rooms. They are dark; photos don't do the exhibits justice.

There were several cases of gold including fabulous leaf golds. The large one, from the Harvard Mine in Tuolumne County CA, is called the Sonoran Sun and weighs 2539.2g (81.65 Troy oz.) As you'd expect these beautiful examples are worth more than their weight.

Leaf gold ore samples at American Museum of Natural History
Crystallized leaf gold in quartz, American Museum of Natural History, NYC

Gerhard Becker of Sierra County, CA, carved this Bison from gold in quartz matrix.

Bison. Carved by Gerhard Becker. Gold in quartz matrix. American Museum of Natural History
Bison, gold in quartz matrix by Gerhard Becker
Not nearly as showy are the evaporites. These minerals form in alkali lakes of the Great Basin region. Who remembers the old TV show Death Valley Days sponsored by 20-Mule Team Borax and partly hosted by Ronald Reagan? Borax is third from the left on the top row.

White and grey Evaporite samples at the American Museum of Natural History
Evaporite samples at the American Museum of Natural History

On my way out I saw this ventifact from Antarctica, a rock carved by wind...

Ventifact from Antarctica at the American Museum of Natural History
Ventifact, a wind-carved rock from Antarctica
and hung out with the barosaurus in the rotunda. Paleontologists are still arguing whether or not she could have reared on her hind legs like this {although it makes a dramatic display}; however, they all agree her young one is actually a kaatedocus. {Kaate- is a Crow Indian diminutive. So her name means "cute little diplodocus relative." Who says paleontologists don't have a sense of humor?}

Barosaurus with kaatedocus, American Natural History Museum, NYC
Barosaurus with kaatedocus, American Natural History Museum, NYC

We left NYC before the latest incident. My prayers go out to the New Yorkers hurt in lower Manhattan yesterday.

Enjoy the day, Ann