Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020 in Review

Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened.
~Dr. Seuss

Not about the pandemic. We are all crying over our losses. But another quiet holiday at home with only video chats for company got me thinking. When our forebears moved, they left everyone and everything they knew behind. They didn't gather together again. At best they had letters. That's why album quilts became popular - a way to memorialize absent friends. Don't you know our foremothers took those quilts out on holidays and traced the names and verses on each block. How grateful they must have been to have that one tangible link to their former lives.

No plans for New Year's although there has been time to talk with all my family this week. A group of us watched Soul together online. There's an app for that but I didn't find it easy to use. Thank goodness several people are tech savvy. We got rolling about an hour late but enjoyed sending comments back and forth. Popcorn and a comfy seat for everyone - because we were all at home. Today I hope to call more friends. And I will smile as I see {or hear} every person. Then I will pick up some mementos from my parents and grandparents and sit for a while remembering all the good times we had.


Despite or because of all the horrors, 2020 turned out to be the year to clean up and clear out. All it took was staying at home for months to get us to focus on overflowing storage - the drawers, the cabinets, the attic, the garage, and the shed. Sheesh! More UFOs found the light of day as DH and I cleared and cleaned the entire house. He sorted, tested, scrubbed, and sold or donated loads of computer and electronic equipment. I actually met my frequently listed but always unmet goal to whittle my stash in half. It's now three shallow boxes. {That's not counting the box of clothing fabric or the box of projects in progress. However, the remaining projects are all in that one box instead of being hidden - and forgotten - in various locations.} 

I had {and may still have} more fabric than I will use in my natural lifetime so it was actually a relief to work through so much of it. Sewing two dozen pillowcases for family, another two dozen tote bags for foster children and family, and a dozen quilts absorbed much of my excess fabric and leaves room for new purchases in the year ahead. The quilts fell into three {occasionally overlapping} categories:

Scrap, stash and strings quilts:

Stash, scrap, and string quilts in 2020

{Although the fabric is older, several of the designs are new or new-to me, including two with tulips. Loving them!}

Star quilts:

Star quilts in 2020

and quilts made from the Parts Department: One for a friend

Multicolor Ocean Waves scraps center around red print squares on point
Ocean Waves scrap quilt 3 

and another for me. 

Large Square Deal quilt block forms central medallion surrounded by Crossroads block border
The Square Deal quilt

Hooray for using fabric and blocks that have been "resting" on shelves for a while.

There was also a Christmas stocking for the newest grandchild and two aloha shirts. 

The Shadow Star top is almost complete. {Another pile of blocks that have been waiting on the shelf.} It should be finished in January and then will be off for long arm quilting. My arms can't move that much fabric around as easily as they used to and every stitch will show on the solid white. 

So, what's up for 2021? I'm not making many predictions and plans this time. We do have a new AHIQ prompt which we'll share next week. And I could make up some of the clothes... but right now, I'm relaxing, reading, and chatting with family. Just what the doctor ordered!

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

No quilts completed in this month either. But I finished one more kawandi, several tote bags and the Christmas stocking. That took11.5 yards. The 2020 year total is 165.5 yards. I hope to start the new year with some finishes of the two big quilts I've been working on: Wheel and Shadow Stars. We'll see how quickly that pans out.


Nann recommended The Address Book by Deirdre Mask and I just finished it.  The subtitle highlights the main points: What street addresses reveal about identity, race, wealth, and power. Without addresses, people can't vote, obtain bank accounts or jobs, get fire or ambulance services... or pay taxes. Without addresses, citizens have no identity. 

Deirdre began in Indian slums, moved to ancient Rome, then discussed the neuroscience of smell and mental mapping. Empress Maria Teresa numbered every house in her country to know who could be drafted for military service. 

Some of the first addresses numbered buildings by the year they were erected. Philadelphia led the way with odd numbers on one side of a street and evens on the others as well as assigning one hundred numbers to each block.  Europeans developed boulevards and parks while Americans used a grid with numbered and lettered streets. 

Stories of how countries name streets and number buildings ranged the globe but she ended the book with three new methods: what3words, Google Plus codes, and  Facebook Robocodes. 

Wishing everyone a healthier and happier year ahead. Peace, love, and true goodwill! 

Happy New Year, Ann

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Another Kawandi Placemat and More Tote Bags

Life is not fair but government must be.
~Ann Richards

There was time to finish a second kawandi placemat. Sujata gave me the idea when she suggested an appropriate size for her class. And I need a new set and what fun to work on something small in the evenings for a change. 

Kawandi placemat

This time the fula were sewn between the layers at the first round of stitching - just as Sujata recommends - but I didn't make quarter circles. Instead, they are folded into thirds, making them very thick and difficult to sew. I won't do it again... unless I forget. Sheesh.

All the fabric came from my scrap bag, including the bird prints. Each placemat will have one of these somewhere. But the colors don't match my dishes. We'll have to see what happens with these.

Tote bags

I found two adorable print {remnants} - the blue with space drive-ins and Charlie Brown's shirt stripe in the lower left. The others are pretty cute, too. The totes are fully lined, not to make them reversible, but to make them stronger.

Between my aloha shirt and DH's, there's enough remnants to make all the backs. So that and the birds are the unifying design elements. I suppose I can turn them over it a calmer placemat is wanted.

Several family members requested my tote bags. Although they have no pockets or special features, they are large enough to hold a large supply of toilet paper, paper towels, or general groceries. Some people have plans to carry sporting equipment in them. Whatever the bags are wanted for, I'm delighted to make them. 

The totes took 10.5 yards and the placemat used another half yard. Eleven yards this week - not that any reduction of the scrap bag is visible. How is this possible? Elves is my answer.

Merry Christmas to all!

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Just in Time for Santa

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.
~Charles Dickens

As I've written before, there are many finishing steps to these stockings but the whole thing went together more quickly than it has in the past. Is it because I had a few ornaments prepared and the stockings themselves cut? Perhaps.

Red velveteen stocking with white felt cuff and sequined decals
Velveteen Christmas stocking, 2020

I found several special glass beads a few years ago. The little glass penguin is a marker for each member of this family group. 

Camel and mitten decals on Christmas stocking

The celestial event is the Perseverance rover heading to Mars. Yes. That lavender thing that looks like a train engine is my interpretation of the rover. {As an artist, I'm a pretty good geologist.} It won't land till early next year but it's on its way.

Sequined Mars and Perseverance rover adorn the stocking
Mars and Perseverance rover

I'm still not shopping in stores so finding jingle bells was a challenge. There were two sizes online: too small and too large. I chose the large ones and mentioned to DH that they could be changed next year. He told me not to bother. According to him, younger brothers will be delighted their bells are larger than their siblings. Hmm. Is that the correct spirit of the season? ;-)

Previous posts:


Since a friend suggested Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, I've been a fan of this author. I read both of her reimagined fairy tales when they came out and was eagerly awaiting A Deadly Education. Scholomance is a school for magic, but not like Hogwarts. There are no teachers. Magically gifted students are transported here as freshmen and dumped into dorm rooms. Once they choose an area of study, the school assigns their classes and presents lectures and homework. Students are responsible for avoiding prowling monsters. Galandriel must build alliances in order to run the final gauntlet of monsters that await all students at graduation. 

I enjoyed the book and found the situation between privileged and independent students timely and pertinent. Now I'm waiting for the next book in this series - due in June.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Beading a New Christmas Stocking

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
~Aldous Huxley

How could I forget? The new grandchild needs a stocking. Soon! Fortunately some parts are pre-cut. Ready and waiting you might say. There are four velveteen stocking shapes cut - front and back plus bright green lining fabric. I decided to cut all the lining now since it will store more easily. It can rest under the finished stockings and the Chief Airhead {me} will know where to find them. 

To make sure that fancy fabric doesn't unravel, I sewed the linings together and stay-stitched the tops. 
Now where are all the beads and sequins? They are packed in one clear box; I just need to find it. The joy of {previously} cleaning and clearing out is that it was {more}easily located.

In addition to a white felt cuff and lots of jingle bells, each stocking I've made has a Christmas tree. I try to vary the ornaments but also reprise a few for continuity. And also because my skill set is limited when ideas are interpreted in sequins. The mitten is a repeat but the camel and dove are new. Not bad.

Beading a Christmas stocking

There's been loads to do around the house so this is all the sewing I finished in a week.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Kawandi with Sujata

The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. 
~Jane Addams


Last month Sujata Shah presented a lecture and workshop to our guild. She has a new class on kawandi which are quilts made by the Siddi people - Indians of African descent. Because some arrived as early as the 7th century while others came as slaves during the African Diaspora, regions have differing customs.

Kawandis are uniquely designed from the outside in. Siddis begin with a sari as the backing, baste waste fabric on top for batting, and appliqué scraps on the front... starting with the outside edges. They always know how big their quilt will be. What a refreshing change.

Not so refreshing is that they don't use pins. What? This was difficult for me but I'm trying.

First two rounds on my kawandi

Only when they need to be sewn in place is another piece added. This was another hard lesson for me but I found the results worth tackling my pre-planning/let's-just-test-it-out habit. This way is "in the moment" and actually made turning the corners easier.

Anyway, I marked my calendar to sign up for her class as soon as it became available. And... this turned out to be the perfect project. My scrap bag is overflowing. Improvisational applique seemed the way to spin it down while listening to shows with DH. After several quiet evenings my first placemat was done. Yes, Sujata's size suggestion made perfect sense - a small, useful item.

Kawandi placemat without fula

My mistake was forgetting to add fula with the first round. Those are fabric scraps that represent flowers added to the corners of all kawandi. Sujata's correct. It's harder to add them later. 

Kawandi placemat with fula

A few more of these are basted and ready to start. Hopefully they will be finished before the end of the year. Christmas rushes in so soon after Thanksgiving. Canadians are smarter to have their Thanksgiving a bit earlier. But still, we are thankful for every day and for the family and friends we joined with online to celebrate the holiday.


This summer I was reading books that have been waiting on my shelves until new publications sidetracked me. Over the holiday I read an old copy of O, Pioneers that was hidden away - so old, I'm not sure where it came from. 

Willa Cather expounds on the relationships between individuals with society and with the prairie. While the land breaks many early settlers, over time they collectively transform the plains. At the same time, society forces weaker people to conform while those with a strong spirit survive. Her brothers complained about Alexandra's innovative planting and reminded me how people are always the same. But other scenes are dated. For example, Alexandra blames the couple who had an affair for their murder by the husband. Still, there were reminders of my grandfather who grew up on such a farm about this same time... and ran away as soon as he was an adult.

Enjoy the day, Ann