Saturday, August 1, 2020

Something to Do While You Work/A Trip

Since the last post, I have listened to two more audiobooks and have made a trip to Arkansas and Tennessee. First, I'll fill you in on the books. My favorite book was This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. 
This Tender Land: A Novel By Krueger William Kent (p.d.f)
I have heard from people who read his mystery series. (I haven't read any of those but plan to.) These books are definitely not mystery books. This book is about four orphans trying to make it on their own during the Depression. I got so involved with the characters that I didn't want the book to end. Goodreads describes it this way.

"Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole." I can't recommend it enough.

The other book is The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd. 
The Book of Longings
It is a fictional book about the life of Jesus (which I didn't know when I started the book). It took a little bit for me to "get into" the book, but I REALLY liked it. It really made me think about what might have been. Goodreads describes is like this.

"Grounded in meticulous historical research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her."

Last week, I visited my son's family in Arkansas. My granddaughter (June Beth--named for me) turned 7, and I wanted to be with them to celebrate. Little did I know that my daughter-in-law would have a cake for me too. (My birthday is August 19.) I SO enjoyed my visit. I cannot go without seeing my family--it is a quality of life issue for me. I guess we all have to decide what is important to us during this pandemic.
I also stopped in to visit my sister in Tennessee on my way home. I hadn't seen her (in person) for WAY too long. We had a nice (but short) visit.

Anyway, I didn't get any sewing or quilting done. I DID get my two latest art quilts professionally photographed while I was gone. (I picked them up on my way home.) Now I have to apply to an exhibit in which I'm interested. That is another thing I don't really like to do. 😒

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Audiobooks and Sewing

While I'm doing some of the things I HAVE to do but don't really LIKE to do (like making and attaching a sleeve to my quilts, squaring up my quilts, and facing my quilts), I listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I have been using my local library apps (Libby and RBDigital) to listen to a book while I work on my fiber art (and while I do some of my chores around the house). I have some wireless AirPods, so I'm not tethered to my phone or iPad while I listen. Today, I want to tell you about three books I REALLY enjoyed. I know I'm always looking for good books to read; I hope you are too.

The last three good books I listened to were Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain, and Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. I absolutely LOVED these books. I listened to them nonstop until I finished them--the equivalent to "I couldn't put the book down." If you get a chance to read (or listen to) any of these books, do it. Let me know what you think.

Below, I've included a description of each book as written by GoodReads. (I was going to write my own version, but GoodReads just said it SO much better.)

Where the Crawdads Sing--"For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
    Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps." 

Big Lies in a Small Town--"North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher's life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women's Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.
    North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn't expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder. 
    What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?"
Ordinary Grace" is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God."
Ordinary Grace

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

It Isn't My Favorite Thing To Do

Lately, I have been trying to do some finishing work on two quilts that have a deadline. Finishing work is definitely NOT my favorite thing to do. I like the designing, drawing, playing, figuring things out, putting things together, and bringing the ideas I have in my mind to life. 

First, there is trimming and squaring up the quilt. I looked for a good video tutorial on squaring up an art quilt and couldn't find one. All the videos I DID find were either terrible or they used straight seams in the body of the quilt to line up the ruler for squaring up. For my art quilts, those videos don't help me, because my art quilts do not have blocks with straight seams. I did find that Kathy Loomis has a good blog post (with pictures) on the topic of trimming and squaring up a quilt. You can check that out at Art With A Needle.
The next thing is to either put a binding or a facing on the quilt. My facing strip looks a little weird in this picture--I had to piece it. I only had a little of the purple hand-dyed fabric left. I needed to use that, so the facing would be less visible. I didn't have enough of the purple fabric to make the facing, so I had to piece it. This pieced facing is an experiment. We'll see how it works.

It is easy to find videos on binding, but facings seem to be less common. A friend of mine (Debby Cresanto) often uses facings to finish her quilts. She always seems so comfortable doing it--she makes it look easy. By the time I am ready to put a facing on my own quilt, I'm a little rattled. I have put SO much time into the quilt that I don't want to mess it up at this point. One time, I noticed I was literally shaking (and my stomach hurt) before I started putting on the facing. I told Debby she should make a video to show people how to easily put a facing on a quilt (and so I would have a video to review and reassure me). She had never done a YouTube video, but she decided to do one for me (because that is just the kind of friend she is). If YOU need a brush up on how to face a quilt, check out Debby's video. You can do that here. I refer to it each time I need to put a facing on one of my quilts. (While I was doing research for this post, I found a facing video made by Joe Cunningham. It is a down and dirty, quick and effective method. If you would like to check out his video, you can do that  here.)
Putting a sleeve on the quilt is the next step (if the quilt is to be hung up on a wall). (In the picture, I'm getting ready to hand stitch the sleeve down on my butterfly quilt.) I don't know why I dislike this SO much but I do. A good while back (2012 to be exact), I wrote up a tutorial for how to make a sleeve and how to attach it to your quilt. I wrote it, because I always seem to have to review how to do it before getting started. This is my go-to tutorial for putting a sleeve on my quilts. If you would like to check that out, you can do that here.

I'll be working on hand sewing the facing down on my hurricane quilt this week. (I don't mind the hand stitching!) Then, I'll have to make a sleeve for it and hand stitch it down. Once that is done, I can get the quilts photographed and the exhibit paperwork done. (I don't like doing the paperwork either!)

I didn't want to forget to mention that the last step is to put a label on the quilt. This is a really important step. Again, it isn't a step I love, but it IS a step that is necessary.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Catching Up

Last week, I was reading my SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) Journal and was pleasantly surprised to see my quilt, Scorched Earth, in the magazine.

As I looked at it, I realized the quilt is printed upside down. Oh well, I was excited to see it in the magazine, and I like how it looks both the way I oriented it and the way it was printed in the magazine.

I also finished a quilt top that has been in the works for awhile. This quilt is called "Go With the Flow."

I'm a BIG scrap quilt fan and love the way the blocks in this quilt are made. They are each made of columns of scraps cut at different widths. It was a fun and easy quilt to make. I used Grunge fabric for the background. I just LOVE Grunge. 

In my last post I mentioned that I was in the process of sewing some blocks for a postage stamp quilt. I couldn't find the picture I had taken of the blocks I had already put together. Well, I found it.

My Zoom meeting with a group of quilting friends is this afternoon. I alway look forward to that. It gives us all a chance to get caught up and is the next best thing to physically getting together for now. I'm thankful we can do that.

I guess celebrations for the 4th of July will be really different this year. I know WE will not be having any big get-together. There will be four of us (my daughter and her family) here for a cookout. I'm really glad we can be together. (I have decided the risk to be with my family is worth it to me). I have some cooking and cleaning to do before that can happen. Cleaning is something I haven't done much of since this pandemic hit. It is probably a good thing I'm having a little company since it "forces" me to clean (at least a little bit). Anyway, have a great holiday weekend. Let me know what you all will be doing.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

It Has Been a Long Time

It has been such a long time since I posted to this blog. After Nate (my husband) died, I had a hard time concentrating--getting started on anything. Now, with this COVID situation, I find myself in much the same mindset. I have more time, but I am having trouble concentrating on anything. Are you having trouble too?

I have been sewing--"mindless" sewing. I have been collecting used dryer sheets for some time. I wanted to make a scrap quilt using those saved dryer sheets. (I've used all I have and could use more.) I used them as a foundation to make these "blocks." I am playing with them on my design wall right now. This is one of the options I'm looking at.

I have also been working on a postage stamp quilt. I've always wanted to make one of those. I have my sewing machine set up in my living room, so I can sew a little bit on these blocks whenever I have a minute or two.

Some of my quilting friends and I have been having virtual quilt meetings every Friday via Zoom. I suggested we do a quilt together, and some of them decided to do it with me. Well, I got carried away and finished my top early. 

It was an easy and fun quilt to do and seemed really appropriate for these times. (I've said my home feels like my sanctuary. My neighbors have made this "isolation" bearable.) It is free pattern offered by Moda and Miss Rosie's Quilt Co. called Village. If you click on the link, it should take you to a copy of the free pattern for you to download if you are interested.

I'll show you some more of what I've been up to in subsequent posts. What have you all been doing?

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Isn’t He Cute

Isn’t he cute! He also has a story. 

He comes from the Fish Museum and Circus on-line shop owned by Deborah Fisher. She hand makes all the little ceramic curiosities in her shop. She puts out an email newsletter in which she lets the subscribers know when her on-line sales will become active. If you are interested in getting one of her pieces, you have to know this because her pieces sell out in minutes. (Of course, I didn’t know this when I was first trying to get one of her pieces.)

Anyway, she posted pictures of the next pieces that would come up for sale on Instagram. I really liked this little guy with the red sweater (who was behind another piece in the Instagram picture) and sent her a note that read, “I’m loving the little red-orange sweatered guy behind him. He makes me smile. That isn’t easy these days. I’m at the hospital with my husband who is in hospice. Thank you.” She wrote back, “Oh no. I’m so sorry to hear that. Sounds like you need a little extra love. When that guy comes out of the kiln, he is yours. Send me your address.” Well, I didn’t see her reply until after Nate died. When I saw it, I immediately answered her and sent her my address. I was thrilled that I’d get one of her pieces, thanked her SO much for putting one back for me, and asked her how much I owed her. She told me he was mine—for free—and just asked that I “pay it forward.” THANK YOU DEBORAH!

Needless to say, that made me cry (happy tears). He makes me smile whenever I see him. He traveled with me to my last quilt retreat and will be making appearances at ALL my retreats. (I have made him a special travel box.) I’m working on some more kennel quilts and more charity quilts for my “pay-it-forward” portion of the deal.

I can’t tell you how much these special “acts of kindness” mean to someone going through “life changes.” Think about someone in your life who might need a little “pick me up,” think about what might make them smile, and make someone’s day.