Monday, October 16, 2017

Reading!

According to "Good Reads," I have read 59 books this year so far.  My year's goal was 62 books.  But I think they count the ones I didn't read all the way, which is fine with me as some of those took quite a bit of time to get to the point where I couldn't stand reading anymore.

Recently I have been embroiled in a number of books by authors who all seem to publish their books in the fall each year.  Sue Grafton's Y is for Yesterday was just terrific.  I will miss Kinsey when her series is over, and I am curious to see what Grafton offers for her in Z is for...  I also loved Jan Karon's To Be Where You Are, her 14th Mitford book.   Somehow, I found the writing more delightful than the past few books.  A reader can get frustrated by her switching characters between chapters without telling you who's narrating, but about mid-way through the book, you get used to it.  Father Tim always saves the day, in his own way.

Louise Penny, who lives just over the Quebec border from Vermont, came out with an excellent Glass Houses this fall.  A mysterious being arrives on the village green and silently watches.  Who is he/she/it after and why?  Again, the wise and kind Inspector Gamache handles it all.  Penny has a wonderful way of building suspense and, although I try to savor her annual books, I find myself turning pages quickly to find out what happens next.

I enjoyed Jenny Colgan's The Bookshop on the Corner, a light romance about a young woman who leaves busy London and sets up a traveling bookshop in Scotland.  I would love to visit Scotland someday, and small village cozies set there really are fun for me.  And I discovered a couple of new-to-me authors this summer that I will keep looking for.  Dawn Lee McKenna was recommended by Karen and writes about a rural part of Florida that I am intrigued with, and Kelley Armstrong, known for her fantasies, has also been writing mysteries set in an off-grid town in the Yukon that shelters people who don't want to be found for one reason or another, beginning with City of the Lost.  I can't wait for the third book in the series.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Lots done, nothing to show!

Some time ago, I started making the weekly Moda "Blockheads" blocks.  They're six inches and some have been quite challenging.  I even converted a few to 9" just because of the challenge.  I think I've made 25 or so, and, as is typical of me, I'm tired of working on them. 

Last week, I swapped out six inch  Sylvia's Bridal Sampler blocks from an online swap I hosted, and that garnered 25 more blocks.  Together, I have about 60, with some orphans I've had hanging around.  I laid them all out, and they look great with the black and red print I bought for a thin (one inch or so) sashing.  Yesterday while I was at A Quilters Garden, I noticed that the bolt is getting low, so I bought another yard "just in case" (famous last words!).  I'll get them all together after we get back from Colorado on Halloween.

Meanwhile, I finished hand quilting Atlantic Crossing, the Deb Tucker wallhanging I started in the summer of 2016.  It really didn't take me that long once I got going, and now I'm stitching the binding down onto the back.  It looks good, but I think I'll hang it once it's done to get the wrinkles out before I hang it at Westview Meadows in November and December.  We're hanging that show November 2, so I have everything else ready to go.

The photo is a sample for an international swap I'm participating in during 2018.  I made a couple for the group to choose a Missouri Star pattern from.  But I also made one to go in my guild "Block Robin" swap bag this week, too.  That one has a black on white background with orange and yellow accents.  It's a small group, so we'll each be making three blocks per month as the bags go around. 

We're leaving Saturday for ten days, so if I am at a loss for something relaxing to do, I'll stitch the binding down on Sister's Choice.   I don't really want to start something new before we head out to Colorado.  I'm looking forward to doing some sightseeing, meeting some old friends for lunch, and meeting up with someone I've been swapping with for a few years.  I know the time will just fly by.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Wrestling with a quilt, helping a neighbor

Looking through my quilt project journal, I noticed that I started making Sisters Choice on June 1.  I have tried to keep up with blocks of the week for the Moda Blockheads program (sometimes 3 or 4 at a time), and a few smaller things.  But mostly I've been working on that quilt all summer.  It took three weeks to quilt the center, and now I am finally finishing up some log cabin borders that I'll need to quilt.  I rue the day I decided to quilt it in sections as it seems so unwieldy now.  I will be adding the last border and then will add more batting and backing fabric to all four sides.  Only then will I be able to quilt it.  Next time, I'll try to quilt the whole thing once it is put together and,  perhaps, not do the tedious 1" grid crosshatch that took me so long in the center.

My online swap group has decided to swap 12" Missouri Star blocks in 2018, and I volunteered to write the guidelines.  There are several methods of making this block, so I've been testing them out.  The one at http://www.quilterscache.com is paper pieced, which I'm not wild about doing, especially if we're making 15 or so blocks.  But we found several rotary cut directions that may work, and my trusty Judy Hopkins Around the Block Again book has one, too.  It's a nice block.

For the same online swap group, I swapped 6" blocks from Sylvia's Bridal Sampler out over the weekend and took two trips to the post office to mail them back to people.  The blocks are really nice, and mine should go well with the Moda Blockheads blocks.  As I've been working on the Sisters Choice quilt, I've been thinking about sashing and settings.  Navy blue?

Most of yesterday was spent helping neighbor Manny with a PowerPoint presentation.  He and Paul are doing a program on the earliest settler of Montpelier, Col. Jacob Davis, on October 16.  I've already transferred Paul's photos to .ppt slides, so I have become more adept at using Microsoft's Picture Editor feature.  I spent the morning putting Manny's photos into .ppt format, and then we spent some time discussing what to keep/take out and how to use PPT itself.  It's been interesting.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

My first juried show

"The Fabric of Our Lives" officially opened on Sunday afternoon with a reception that was quite well attended.  I had no idea how many pieces were chosen for the exhibit; there were 12-15, so my "Blue Orange Peels" (beyond the crowd in this picture) had a lovely spot just as you walk in. 

The historic Waterbury Grange hall is slowly being renovated, and the owners plan to leave many of the features as they are.  The stage is small but high enough for a band, and the walls have been stripped down to plaster.  The light is great due to the tall windows.

There were some interesting pieces, including a couple of quilts made of old sweaters and fleece jackets; very realistic stuffed animals made of fake fur, canvas, and embroidery; an intricately woven throw; and some abstract canvases made of pieces of Aran sweater and of straight pins interestingly arranged.

Paul took several nice photos, and I do think the blues look great against the rough walls.  The show continues through November.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The teal mini swap

My friend Sonja told me about a swap in support of ovarian cancer research.  The organizer of the Teal Mini Swap sends each participant a small piece of teal fabric and the name of another quilter somewhere in the country and Canada.  We are to make and send a mini quilt or mug rug to our partner some time during September, which is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month.  Some of our $15 contribution goes toward this worthy cause which is also a fun way to meet quilters around the country.

I was matched with Valorie from Oregon, and her package arrived a couple of days ago.  Wow!  Here's the mini:
Funny - I was thinking of using the exact same pattern for her mini!  Guess we were well matched.

Valorie also sent me some other goodies - a lovely knitted tote bag with felted wool accents and bright buttons; a mug rug; a little "Quilting" book; and a very cute, colorful pincushion.  The pincushion is made of ribbon sewn together - very cute.

Here's what I sent to Valorie:
I had fun choosing colors of the rainbow for this (one of the star pieces is lime, not yellow), and while I did some machine quilting, I added some accent hand quilting in the star.  What a fun swap, and for such a good cause.

Last Tuesday walk of the season

The Tuesday morning walkers went out of the Town Forest yesterday to go up the Grand Lookout Trail.  It's a relatively easy walk with a slight incline and an amazing view at the end.  It has been hot and humid for the last few days, so the morning fog has been slow to burn off.  From the Grand Lookout, we could still see very low hanging clouds and not as much fall foliage as we had hoped.  Still, there are some amazing trees turning red, losing their chlorophyll.

After we reached the parking lot, we had a little tail gate party.  One of the walkers, Pam, often says when we reach some nice spot, "this would be perfect if there was a cappuccino bar."  Paul and I produced a cooler with some "Frappacino" drinks (very sweet) and gluten-free muffins (two of our walkers are GF).  It was the perfect end to a very nice summer of walks!


Monday, September 25, 2017

Nothing to show

I have been quilting the Sister's Choice quilt center for several weeks and finally the end is in sight.  It's crazy because it's not very big - only crib sized at this point.  The 20 blocks are set on point with plain blocks in between.  I did some curvy quilting in the Sister's Choice blocks along with stitch in the ditch, and then I did a 1" grid in the setting triangles, which was tedious.   Now I need to mark and quilt the plain blocks for free motion quilting.  I will clean my machine while I'm at it. 

After I finish (this week sometime?), I will set the quilt aside while I work on a few other projects:
  1.  a row robin that just arrived from Pat
  2.  the guild block of the month
  3.  the Moda Blockheads blocks of the week I have missed (3 or 4)
  4.  appliqueing the borders for Sister's Choice by machine using David Taylor's method
  5.  hand quilting the Atlantic Crossing wallhanging for the show at Westview Meadows in November
Phew! 

I sometimes wonder where my time actually goes, but then I remind myself that quilting is a hobby and doesn't need to be done at top speed.  I can take my time with some projects (even though it's nice to finish one once in a while).  Meanwhile, I've been engrossed in several good books lately, including Y is for Yesterday (Sue Grafton), Glass Houses (Louise Penny), and the latest Jan Karon (on my Kindle so I forget the title!).   Chris helped me wash all the windows in the downstairs inside and out on Saturday.  I also packaged and mailed quilts to my former mother-in-law and to an old high school friend who has weekly dialysis.  I have another to pack and mail to my nephew.   I'm happy to be slowly down-sizing - translation... making room for more!