Thursday, February 23, 2017

One Finish, Three WIP's, and Two WIP's-in-Waiting

 My nephew Chris married Andi last spring. Andi and I shared a Pinterest board, and this collaborative quilt is their wedding quilt.  It's 70" x 86".  I love the low-volume look and - not to sound like a broken record - it has a terrifically soft feel.  Andi likes sparkle, and the backing of this quilt is all about the sparkle, in the softest and 100% cotton way.  This couple lives in Orlando, so I batted this with wool.  It's lightweight and perfect for their climate. This quilt is currently in the mail.  Quilting for such a happy reason is a joy - it's great fun to think about their future! Chris is the oldest of my nieces/nephews and has always had a special place in my heart.
My new dining room quilt - almost ready to be basted!

A twin bed quilt - same design as the dining room quilt.

A Hazel Hipster for one of my favorite people

A jelly roll and leftover of shot cottons - something for above the new entertainment center perhaps

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Working at a snail's pace - but working!

What an odd February!  No snow - warm weather - perfect for walking.  Chris and Andi's wedding quilt is together, and the quilting is almost finished.  I found the perfect backing at Quilter's Quest last week, and it will be the binding as well.  I need to make the binding, and - Voila!  - completion soon.
This quilt on the design wall is taking shape very slowly.  It's been 15 years since I made a new quilt for my dining room, and I think this design will be perfect for the room.  Since John has to look at this quilt, I asked him for his input, and he has helped me rethink my way.  Each block will remain 8 1/2" by 11"; but I am not going to repeat any fabrics, and each fabric will be something connected to text or paper.  I have a several blocks I'm not using and will turn those into a bed quilt at some point.

My good buddy Cecilia had a birthday.  She is all about the sparkle, so I found my sparkly fabrics and made little drawstring bags in three sizes. Quilt buddy Melissa made me one of these bags for Christmas and then shared the pattern with me.  These are Fold-It-Hold-It bags, and you can get the pattern here

I am getting close to finishing the hand quilting of my Glam Clam quilt - just a couple more grey clams and then the greens to go.  This quilt has a border, and I want to quilt that, too.  So it's still a ways from completion.  This is the 4th quilt - and the 4th winter - that I have hand quilted.  I am thankful to quilt bestie Mimi for showing me the patience and to my class at QuiltCon 2015 with Maura Ambrose for helping me establish my technique.
This may not look like much, but this is our Valentine's Day present to one another.  We got rid of the big entertainment piece (see below) that would only house a 19" television.  This new piece, much to our dismay, came unassembled.  And like many couples, we don't always work well together.  But yesterday we did!  We got this piece assembled, went out for a new television and DVD player, and - this part is huge - even got everything hooked up and working.  We were smug with satisfaction last night!  This new piece goes with our dining room furniture.  We loved the other piece and have had it for over 25  years.  It will go on the curb for the LaGrange pick up day in April - unless anyone wants it.  Anyone?  Anyone? And I think another new quilt is in order!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


 Eighteen years ago my high school hired a new principal, and we locked horns almost immediately.  I remember coming home from school angry - steam-coming-out-of-my-ears angry.  During this time of anger, my cousin Jim died tragically in a house fall when his three children were very young.   All the anger I had was redirected into grief.  And this grief became a quilt.  I gave this quilt to my Aunt Betty and Uncle Leonard to give to Jim's widow Lorna when she was ready.  (Lorna just recently and happily remarried - I don't know where the quilt is.)

So today is February 1.  I have had over two months to get used to the idea of minority-elect President Trump.  Every political announcement churns my stomach.  And this is not a way to live for the next two years.  I am redirecting my disgust and abhorrence into action  - I will work through media, financial donations, and quilty comfort.  I am doing what I can where I can.  Kind of like cleaning a closet or writing a paper or making a quilt:  small daily steps.  And these steps add up, especially when combined with the daily steps of others. 

Eric Zorn is one of my favorite Chicago Tribune columnists, and his Perspective article yesterday gave me great comfort. He points out that the many of the marchers from January 21 don't feel directly threatened by Trumpism.  I fall into that category - I'm straight, white, of some means, have excellent health insurance, and "won't be alive along enough to be morally sickened by the poisonous air and water in a deregulated America."  I don't have anything to lose or gain by protesting.  Except self-respect, personal honor,  concern for those who have less, and leaving a better world for future generations.  I like that Zorn thinks we're at the beginning of a Liberal Spring.  I think so, too.

This amaryllis was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law Chris.  This plant is already 24" tall, and it's just been planted for one month.  It is my symbol for optimist and growth.  I can't wait for the bloom.
The fabrics above are three jelly rolls that whisper to me daily, "It is our turn?"  The top set is Zen Chic's Luster.  The middle set are peppered shot cottons which I know will be part of next winter's hand quilting project.  And the bottom set is "Aubade" by Janet Clare. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Design: Wall and Mind

The current political landscape is so unsettling (i.e., Trump has been the minority-elect president for 11 days).  The news of the hour is that Betsy DeVos is our new education leader.  I don't want to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I don't see this going well for public education at all.  I hope I hope I hope she proves me wrong.  When I am unsettled with quilting projects, I make lists and plow through them.  Political projects?  Daily calls and emails.  Scheduling marches.  February 20 for "Not My President's Day."  April 15 to continue the call for Trump to release his taxes and divest himself of financial gain during his reign - er, presidency.  March is open.  Hmm, which of the protests - so many to choose from.  I'm in an odd frame of mind:  I can't watch or listen to news without my heart pounding or blood pressure rising.  So, I sew.  At nights I'm working on the above.  I try to keep my tension light - you can see I'm not doing the best job of that. 
This is one of the projects I'm working on during the day.  No more NPR for me - just listening to books and podcasts.  What's on the Design Wall is my 8 1/2" x 11" quilt.  That's the size of each block that then has the shadow sewn around it.  These fabrics all have something to do with school, notebooks, or paper.  While this is still evolving, I like how this is coming along.  It will be mostly black and white, and I already have ideas of how I want to quilt this. 
Chris and Andi's quilt is still on the design "floor" - it's in 12 pieces.  As long as I'm waiting for the batting to arrive and still figuring out what I want to back the quilt with, I am in no hurry to finish this.
And this quilt?  The top is complete.  I'm just using up various scraps and bits for the backing.  This is another quilt that I want to quilt myself. 

Meanwhile, I try to keep myself calm.  It's hard.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Keeping Busy

This doesn't look like much, does it.  But this 18" x 20"  sampler is what I produced in a one-day improvisational hand quilting class.  I do hand quilting, but not with thread - I use No. 8 Perle cotton.  But it turns out these sashiko techniques I use work nicely with regular quilting.  Chawne Kimber of Cauchy Complete taught this Saturday class and was our lecturer the next day at our guild meeting.  Chawne is a math professor and one of the most thoughtful and provocative quilters I know.  This is my third time to meet her and spend time with her, and my admiration grows.  Chawne and hand-quilting aside, it was a lovely workshop.  Not using machines for a day was a great change of pace.

Here's the wedding quilt I started last week.  Each little block is 5" x 5".  16 rows by 19 columns.  The gap in the middle?  I just haven't pieced those blocks yet.  This has been a lot of work but very simple and satisfying.  And I do like how this is turning out.  It's been the perfect project for these pre-inauguration days.  I'm torn between refusing to watch any news and yet wanting to stay informed. So simple tasks and focusing on the Women's March in Chicago the day after the inauguration have been my coping mechanisms.    Thinking about Chris and Andi and their life together is a nice bright thought, too!

Late afternoon/early evenings I love settling down with this glam clam quilt. Months ago I began hearing about the slow stitching movement. And this winter, more than any other time, I get it. The simple joy of quiet stitching, creating something that will be both utilitarian and beautiful, is what I treasure. I'm maybe a little over one-third finished - these little 2 and 3 hour sessions eventually add up. I love how the stitching looks on the back, too.  I'm stitching in the color of the individual clams so there is a beautiful texture happening.

Last and pretty important, this year is my 10th year blogaversary.  I've been blogging since January 2007 and have printed out each year's blog entries into book form.  So this is the 10th volume of my blog books.  Hardly scintilatting reading but a wonderful record of projects and life events.  Although I have worked on a lot of projects in 2016, this Sloan Bag, pattern by Sew Sweetness, is among my favorites.  I have used this bag for travel and love the size and practicality.  For the back of this book, I chose a picture from the International Quilt Festival.  Here's my fabulous "My Answer is Yes" hanging next to Bill Stearman's "My World".  We both had Drunkard's Paths quilts in this festival, too.  See this blog entry from last April for details.  It's been the start of a nice friendship. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Peaceful January Monday

I spent the weekend sewing and accomplished all that I intended.  That alone is a great feeling!  After kitting six SewPowerful purses, these went together pretty nicely.  The rainbow fabric is left over from one of the charity quilts my guild did for the Orlando Pulse project.  And I love how it works in these purses!  These six will join the 7 completed in December.  There were over 3000 purses sent in for the fall deadline!

Our December guild "basket" swap didn't happen because of weather. I just made the one larger basket.  But with the extra time, I was able to complete two more of these little tray-like nesting boxes.

I like this little tray so much that I made myself one from a Janet Clare "Flight" charm pack.  

I'm very eager to work with this new line of Zen Chic's "Luster" line.  Jelly roll, charm packet,  mini-charms, and the perfect background.  But before I touch these, here's what I'm starting on today:
My nephew Chris married last spring.  Over Thanksgiving I had a chance to get to know his wife Andi.  With help from a shared Pinterest board and my trusty Kona card, Andi and I designed their wedding quilt.  I have all the fabrics, and today's the day.  It's great fun to clear the design wall and begin this work of love. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016


Do you know how important Chance the Rapper is? In November he gave a concert at Grand Park (and he is HOT right now) that ended with a parade to the election polls. Last winter he led a charity effort to get winter coats to those in Chicago in need. Here's a link to some backbround bio about him.  And his music?  So good to listen to.  He's a clever and articulate rapper/musician.  Chance has the final cut on the Hamilton mixtape, and it makes me weep.  His fusion of rap and gospel is fabulous.

I can't bear to read one more article about the presidential outcome and what happened.  Here's what I do know.  Our civic responsibility is to work as hard as we can and get out the vote in the 2018 and especially 2020 elections.  My voice can't do that.  But Chance the Rapper can.  We need to support and lift up Chance and those like him who can lead our young people to the polls.

This picture was from yesterday's Chicago Tribune as one of the 10 best pictures of the year.  And what he said?  "I'm here to make sure you all stay woke and vote." 

Friday, December 30, 2016

A Constellation of Riches

The sun is low in the sky, and morning lights my living room in such a beautiful way.  This is my view as I drink coffee and read.  I am purposely not taking a picture of the massive construction project across the street and am so glad you cannot hear the beeping of the construction vehicles.  This is a time to focus on blessings, not annoyances.

Health, wealth, loving husband,personal happiness, wonderful friends, a ticket to Hamilton.  What more can one ask for?

Christmas Day John and I volunteered for Christmas Cheer - there were 500 who delivered meals to 20,000 people.  So many highlights but one especially was running into a fellow LT 67' grad - Jeff Stewart, whom I vaguely remembered.  We had been with the Moscinskis the night before, and the Whites got together on the 26th.  Our house was a hive of activity - and calories.

Sam, Nikki, Grandpa John, Natalie, Ben, (standing) Ryan, Jack, Brandon

Julie, John, me, Jennifer, Mark

Mors bags for my brothers and nieces/nephews
Little gift bags for a dinner party tonight - with thanks to quilty Melissa!

The most "holiday" thing we did in December was to go on the Illumination Walk at the Morton Arboretum.  Friends Dorothy and Greg bought the tickets.  The walk was about a mile and included various warming tents.  We had to bundle up but enjoyed being out in the dark and seeing all the clever light displays.  They then treated us to a crock pop chicken dinner which was ready when we came back to their house.  What a great winter activity!
My brother had his 4 granddaughters with him on the 26th. These little girls were terrific, considering they were in a house with very little for their entertainment. The two younger ones spent a lot of time in the studio, running around and making little tiny adjustments. This cup hook is one that I keep a pair of scissors on, but Olive, Elle, and Isla decided it works better as a place to hang spools and bobbins. They might be right.

While I was busy thinking about the 10 year anniversary of Dodie's death, I completely missed marking the second year of my mom's death.  I felt a bit stupid for a while until I realized how absolutely at peace I am about my mom's death - she was spiritually safe and lived a long and full life.  Her death was part of the natural order of things.  

My Canadian buddy Bill Stearman at least weekly says, "Life is good."  And he's right.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

It's Been Ten Years

My ever-growing pile of black and whites, perhaps for a log cabin.
My college roommate Dodie died 10 years ago.  Just as I was retiring and planning a party in August 2005, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.  Her doctor said with treatment she might live another 18 months to 2 years.  And she died December 17, 2006.  I was the eulogist at her memorial service.  As I prepared I felt like I was writing the paper of my life.  And the delivery was incredibly difficult.  Over the years I have wondered - as death inevitably makes us do - why she died at 57 and why I am still alive at 67.

A stack of Wordsmith fabrics, with a few other fabrics mingled in.
There's a line in "Hamilton" about Hamilton writing as if he was running out of time.  And lately, that's how I feel about my quilting.  My projects are stacking up in the happiest of ways.  I rejoice in each day and am keenly aware that these past 10 years have been a gracious gift - a gift of 3,650 days that Dodie didn't have.  And so I plan projects and give quilts away.  I make purses and contribute them.  I look for charitable sewing opportunities for family and friends.

Fabrics from "Paper Obsessed".  All I know is that blocks will be 8.5" x 11".

These fabrics I've worked with before, and I want to work with again.  
Is that enough?  I wrestle with this.  And of course I have decided over the past 10 years that yes, this is enough.  This is what I do: Sharing my work and my skills.. Even when Dodie was at her sickest, she always asked how I was and what I was working on.  And this still amazes me.  As she was facing imminent death, she still looked outward.  In these melancholy days, I need to take a tip from her book of life and look outward and to others.
Fabrics for my nephew's wedding quilt.
My hand-quilting project.  Work has begun on two of the clams.

I miss Dodie. But life has gone on. As Dodie was dying, my friendship with Cecilia, the grief counselor, developed. It was she who made me say the words for the Eulogy out loud. She knew I needed to do this in order to make it through Dodie's memorial service.  We have now been close friends for over 10 years.   I later joined the new Chicago Modern Quilt Guild and made some terrific and invaluable friends - some women whom I love dearly and am so thankful for.  I have been the luckiest of women for these past 10 years.
Gifts from quilty friend. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Upstairs, Downstairs - Part 2

The Glam Clam quilt top from peppered shot cottons - the one I started piecing by hand in September  - is ready for basting and hand sashiko quilting.  I just finished piecing this last night, and I hope to be able to start quilting it tonight.  Perfect quilting weather - lowest temps of the season.  I love our 1908 stucco bungalow, but it is cold cold cold in this house.  My studio has is own mechanicals, but that doesn't do much good in the evenings.  Quilting by hand?  Ah, that's the trick.

Below is the wool batting and the backing.  As soon as I get it measured, I am going to wash it.  These peppered cottons are so soft, and this Studio E wide backing will match in texture nicely.

Meanwhile, I have finished piecing this top. During the process I fell out of love with fabrics. Maybe as I quilt this, I will redevelop a fondness for them again. I thought putting these 5" charms on a navy background would calm these modern prints down.  For the December Chicago Modern Quilt Guild holiday swap I made a basket out of 2.5" charms and liked it much more than I thought I would.  See below.  Purses?  Soon.  My goal is to do at least 12 by the February 1 SewPowerful.Org deadline, but I have a feeling it will be more since I already have 7 of them completed. 
I'm using up the various leftovers, including anything remotely navy blue from my stash, on the back.