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.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

My biggest quilt ever!

 It's 120" x 120".  And it's beautiful.  It is waiting for its ride to Perth, Australia with Kimmie Dieball Newman and her husband Keith.  This is their wedding quilt - they were married in Chicago in the fall of 2015.  Kim's dad and I were at Farragut together in the 70's and then were both transferred to Englewood High School in 1981.  Ed eventually went to King HS and Dyett Upper Grade School/High School.  I then went to Hyde Park HS and ultimately to Kennedy HS.  At this time Ed and his wife Marge had babies - Patricia (she of the Hungry Caterpillar quilt), Kimberly, and Thomas.  I have known these three since they were babies.  And now?  They are all starting their own families! 
 Kimmie has a degree in Art History.  The colors of this quilt appealed to her, and so I finished it for her to accommodate her big husband and their big California king bed.  More than ever, I am indebted to my long armers, Frank and Terri Karls of T and F Quilting.  Wrangling a quilt of this size requires special skill!  The color bars are from Jinny Beyer's Spectrum quilt kit. 
 I asked Terri and Frank for an open quilting design to keep this quilt as light and airy as possible.  And I like this "basket weave" effect.  I imagine this quilt will last a long, long time.
The back is snow white, just like the borders of the front.
Meanwhile, I did some organizing and sorting in the studio.  This is the neatest these shelves have been in several years.  There is one completed quilt in there - it's waiting for its owner. 

This trio of Mors bags went to John and Juanita Tilgner as a hostess gift. 

These two?  I was at the dentist today, and I will admit that I love him - what a nice young man.  He's always appreciative of little gifts and was happy to receive these.  Time to make some more!

Big quilts.  Small bags.  All are important!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Piece Peace

I wish I could take credit for "Peace Piece", but it's actually the name of a Bill Evans piece.  I am at peace with this quilt.  My college roommate has been on my mind - Dodie died almost 10 years ago.  I know I am making a quilt for her daughter.  It might be this one - or the next one.  The gentleness of these fabrics touch me.  And this quilt is another incredibly soft one. I used a layer cake and a jelly roll from the Janet Clare Wordsmith line.  There were some leftovers, and I used them for the quilt backing, along with various little bits from my stash.  The quilting is simple and is in keeping with the softness of the quilt.

There a lot of rolling and re-rolling to get the quilting done.

Lots of safety pins and quilt wrestling.  But oh such satisfying results!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Guaranteeing a Successful Studio Adventure

Have a quilt top you like a lot ready for quillting.  These fabrics are from Janet Clare's Wordsmith line.  I used a layer cake and a jelly roll for the front, and leftovers are in the backing.

Make sure you have the right batting.  For this particular quilt, I am using a poly bat because I want this quilt to be light and airy feeling.

Have a backing that is bigger than your quilt top.  A great opportunity to use up scraps from the front and other bits in your stash. 

Have another project or two ready to go.  These are two SewPowerful purses cut out, interfaced, and ready to assemble

Have other piles of fabric just sitting out in plain view so that planning can begin.

Seriously, my one big rule for the studio?  I try very hard to always leave a project at a point where I know I want to come back to it.  If there's a hard part, I'll do it before I end for the day.  Kind of a good rule for life, too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Five Purses for SewPowerful.Org

I'm thankful for those who are committed to social activitism, like the Sew Powerful organization and its organizers Jason and Cinnamon Miles.
The first of 5 cross-body bags for the February 1, 2017 deadline.  These five took three days of sewing.
Each bag starts with 11 various pattern pieces, all of which are interfaced.  I'm going through bolts of ShapeFlex 101 and always buy it when it's on sale.  Here's one kit with all the pieces.
I'm stopping with these five completed bags for the Thanksgiving break, but have these two kits ready to come back to after I work on a quilt top.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Changing Gears: From Quilts Back to Purses

 This quilt - the 4th in my pre- and post-election series - makes a nice dent in my Marcia Derse fabric collection.  I'm pretty sure this particular design is from Blue Underground Studios, but of course I can't find it right now. I have loved the fabric that is the background for this quilt.  But it's finally gone.  Time to move on.  This quilt is 90" x 96" and another wonderfully soft one.  The quilting is all straight lines and suits the overall design perfectly.  Time to fold it up as it waits for its rightful owner to claim it.  Not sure who that will be...

These are the purse fabrics.  I'm not crazy about them personally.  But I know they will sew up into purses that some Zambian young ladies will love. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Not Quite There, But...

This quilt isn't quite finished - I'm still quilting it and then of course must bind it.  But I wanted to take advantage of this gorgeous day - it is almost 70 outside.  Tonight there is going to be an extreme temperature drop, and I'm hearing rumors of snow over the weekend. 

Wrestling with a quilt in order to quilt it is meditative and soul-soothing.  This is my 4th quilt since October 22.  I think I almost have my head out of my butt.  And I'm turning back to purses for Zambia and  Just in time for the weather change. 

A note about this quilt:  I'm using a polyester batt and had forgotten what a nice texture it has.  Also check out the various bits for the backing.  Thrifty, eh?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

What Material Are We Leaving?

The pear tree in our backyard is the last tree to change colors and lose its leaves - it has yet to start turning to gold and yet so many of the surrounding trees have lost their leaves.  This quilt is my third one in two weeks - let's call it stress sewing.  I'm disappointed at the outcome of the election and grieve for those whose voices will be further suppressed.  I was a bit buoyed by the meeting between Trump and Obama yesterday - Trump admitting that Obama is a good man and Obama pledging to work with Trump.  It's a start, eh?  My glass is always half-full.  I am not making light of the political situation today, but I am optimistic that our nation will survive this tumult.  I am optimistic that Trump supporters will suppress the racist elements of their party.  And I am optimistic that the Democratic party will regroup.  And I am incredibly impressed with Hillary's gracious concession speech - she deserves to live a life of ease after so many years of public service.

I've been listening to "Hamilton" a lot - we are seeing it Thanksgiving weekend, and I'm incredibly excited, especially since we're taking 4 of the grandkids as their Christmas present. If you are a longtime blog reader, you know that I have frequently paid homage to Stephen Sondheim - his lyrics resonate with me. But I fear he is being supplanted by Lin Manuel-Miranda. So many of the "Hamilton" songs pertain to what's happening right now. In Act I one of the song's lyrics is "History is happening right now." And its so true. History is happening right now. When the revolutionists won the Battle of Yorktown and realized that perhaps their revolution had been successful, they sing "The world's turned upside down." I'm sure Trump supporters feel like this. And I know liberals for sure feel like this. But the one lyric that resonates more than the others is "Who will tell your story?", a wonderful anthem at the end of the play.
My hope is that the Trump we saw on the campaign trail is not that Trump we will see as president.  As we toured the presidential museums this fall, we saw over and over how ordinary men rose to the office.  I must believe - that despite different political philosophies - Trump will do the same.  He is making history, and history will be written about him.  My brother Al the preacher says to live a good life so he can preach a good funeral over you.  President Trump, be better than you have been so that history can write a good story.  Fellow liberals, figure out the next few years because history too will be written about how we respond to these days.  "History has its eyes on you." 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Sewing as Therapy

 When I am grieving or rejoicing, I sew.  And when I am in turmoil, I sew.  The politics of this season are so unsettling.  The thought of a Trump presidency is stomach-churning.   While I do have faith that the American electorate will do the right thing, I am in turmoil.  So what do I do?  I sew.  This quilt is the second one to go in the mail this week.  The first was this one, which is on its way to Louisville to my nephew Nathan.  And this quilt pictured here is going to my niece in Columbus, IN.  It is 74" x 88" and is just the softest quilt ever.  It's made from Alison Glass hand-stamped scraps left over from a swap project.  I test-drove it on the sofa this morning while drinking my coffee, and I love it.  I am so happy it's going to Ali.  She asked if I could bear to part with it.  And here's why I can.

 I have more of the Janet Clare Wordsmith fabrics, the same one I used for Nathan's Trip Around the World.  Enough for another Trip, and then I still have a layer cake and a charm pack to play with.  Now I can start these two quilts and fall in love with them as I make them.  And look at the picture below - these are 5" charms on a navy background.  I don't know what exactly this will be, but I like playing around with these.

And these Marcia Derse blocks are all ready to be set into a quilt. It's nice to have the time to do all these.  And then I must get back to the SewPowerful cross-body bags for the young girls in Zambia.  The fate of the USA is out of my hands - I have been proactive and done what I can for my candidate Hilary Clinton.  Whether she wins or loses, there is going to be unrest after the election.  My answer is to reach out to others, be as generous as I can be, and do what I can for future generations.  I will brighten the corner where I am.