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Feb 2017
This IS the BEST way to spend a February weekend!!  Dear, dear friend from Texas flew to visit ME!  I realized that in all these years, I’ve only had family visit, never a girlfriend.  This was the best weekend of quilting, sharing, encouraging, eating…. EVER!!

 

She is a hand-piecer but wanted to try my long-arm!  I let her!  LOL!!  My thinking was that I’d start it, she’d do a bit, and ask me to finish.  She loved it and did her whole quilt – a throw size.

This is in the evening after she had just arrived that day!  I’d be way too tired to think.  She did an amazing job!


Put any 2 ‘retired’ homeschool moms together and what do they do…?  We took a historical field trip!  This is an old stone bridge on some property we rent where a famous future President crossed following some local debates.  It is cool to see, the weather was so mild we were sliding in mud!, and it was a good time to be out and hike.  Thankfully, we took a driver and slightly OK photographer.


We were dressed for February, not for fashion photos!  It didn’t matter, we were together!


The middle of our mild winter, she saw a few bits of snow fall and the pond behind us had ice on it.

She got so comfortable with the machine she added her name to one of the near-solid blocks.  She also added a bit of glow-in-the-dark thread for fun on this quilt!  We were so excited when it really glowed!  (by Superior)

I added the binding by machine and she had her quilt ready to take home with her!  She left 3 other quilt tops for me to quilt and bind for her.   She hand sews the bindings.  All had wonderful labels that she lettered while she was here.

She also got a junior version of English Paper Piecing class.  I’m no pro but it was fun to play with fabric together.  She also organized and culled my batik fabric bin.  Clearly she didn’t cull enough as the lid still doesn’t fit on!

Monday night we threw in a trip to one of my quilt guild meetings.  In February, we don’t usually have programs scheduled but she loved it enough she promises to go to a local guild near her!  #cough

At the airport and sadly it is time to say good-bye.  We had realized we’d never run out of things to talk about.  I needed to get a jump on the traffic.  And really just.in.time!  It backed up a ton behind me and in the other direction as I headed out of the city.  Sad to send her back home.  Thankful over the top that she came to visit!

I was really glad I could get to the IQF – Chicago quilt  show this spring for all 3 days.

On the first day, I had a few hours and saw some of the quilts as well as some of the vendors.

I had a class in the afternoon and I was first to sign up and ask to be teacher’s pet so I was the helper for the class. I had the ribbon to add to my nametag and afterwards I got a pin.  (So much un-Wow factor there!)   I checked with the Education​ office 45 mins before class was to start. Soon after one student was able to buy the class from someone else but came without even a pair of scissors! She got a quick class list and went shopping. On top of it, she had never taken a quilt class!

This was very interesting sort of class. Nothing I’ve ever done in my 30 years of quilt making!  It looks like wonky piecing but technically is applique.

At these classes, the machines are provided by a mainline dealer and there is a rep for every 3 classrooms. The rep gave an overview of the machine AND…. we found out the our carefully chosen specialty threads (on class list) wouldn’t fit in the machine.  It wasn’t a brand I’d suggest in the first place but that put a damper on things a bit.  I happened to have 1 spool that could fit in the machine so used that.  A few others had the rep wind their thread onto a bobbin to use as the top thread.  I think most in the class just had to use the regular sewing thread.  Oh … Brother, not for me!  Had I or we all known, at least I would  have brought a piece of tape, paperclip, and paper cup from SBx and made my thread work!  LOL!

Karen Stone was the instructor and had a long wait in the SBx line so was late for class.

Then the Education coordinator came to talk about other classes and the evening activities (ie trying to sell tickets) and the sewing machine rep came and talked too long.  (I guess maybe I should fill in the email survey…)  Finally it was class time but about 2:20, instead of 2 as we had all been waiting for.

The class was titled, “Remainderings” and as she taught we finally figured it out.  Very fun!

Karen gave a bit of an intro but mostly we just needed to watch her get going.  I like how she taught us 3 steps and then let us work on that.  She was right at our table or we’d congregate in a group of 5 or 6 around a machine while she’d demonstrate the next step again.  We needed the beginning steps learned before we moved on and she taught that well in class.  Once we all had a few pieces of the first half accomplished, she taught the final 2 steps.  I think all of us had one block completed through all the steps by the end of class.  Not that having “just one” block was a negative!  We had many blocks in various stages to jump right back into when we got home.

My first finished block.


Some of my pieces in progress when it was time to be done.

One of Karen’s blocks

 


Other students’ blocks.  The reason I needed to carry the 2 rolls of blue tape to the classroom — to hang our blocks on the wall!  Ha!


The blocks Karen had made to show us how they all go wild and play fun together!

I jumped right back into real life when I got home.  Maybe this weekend, I can sew some more on my class blocks.  I think it will make a very fun quilt!

Spring Hike

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Well, it isn’t quite spring yet but it was a lovely day to be out!  A week of days in the 60’s and one in the 70’s are a very rare treat for us in February!!  We hope to have these days in April and often need to wait until May.

JP drummed at church this morning and in lieu of a selfie, he accepted having Dad take our picture.  Here is the best of 2 tries.  Neither one likes to be in photos or take photos.  😦

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After lunch… a hike and fun in the woods —
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I love the old stone bridge there.  Supposedly, Lincoln, as a presidential candidate crossed over this bridge before and/or after the Lincoln-Douglas debates not too far from us.  I find the whole amount of work they did to make this amazing!

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too much sun yet on my camera….

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and here is all the way to where they blocked the flow for a pond decades ago!

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I take my own photos as otherwise there would none of me!

With having many warm days, there was a bit of creek flowing from the bridge and all the land was muddy.  Going back up the hill, I slipped.  Phil was near so I offered him the other end of a stick near me to be my “lifeline”.  The old and dead branch snapped apart as he grabbed it so I slid down farther. Oh well, muddy jeans aren’t anything new to our washing machine.  It was a funny episode and all the laughter was good for us.  JP asked where the video was now.  I replied it was in his pocket!!

JP found this amazing fungus/mushroom!  Pure white as snow and blood red on the inside!  Stunning on the forest floor of hundreds of shades of brown.

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And now we know it is the Sarcoscypha coccinea, commonly known as the scarlet elf cup.  It is found on forest floors, often under  leaves and such in late winter to early spring.  Quite brilliant on the mostly brown ground.   

28This branch had 2 on it.   We’ve never seen these before.  Probably because they are there in early spring and we are busy with spring work and often aren’t out hiking.  Amazing color & a unique creation!

Rock Island Arsenal Tour

We enjoyed the wonderful “May” weather in February by doing family things outside.

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Today we went to the Rock Island Arsenal for a tour.   We enjoyed the museum. We hadn’t been there since JP was young but he remembered this wall of guns & rifles from America’s whole history.  Of course, he remembered.  In his blood from early on!

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This is where all the DOD targets are printed even today!  Isn’t that amazing?

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I liked this quote from Mark Twain describing the island… 3 miles x 1/2 a mile.  Still the vast stone buildings and a lot of trees. Beautiful!

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The National Cemetery
The chimes were playing “God Bless America” while we were there.  I enjoy chimes, even the worn & minimal ones.

 

 

 

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With all the spring weather, the pussy willow bushes were opening!  There were 2 large bushes at the walkway to the Confederate Cemetery.

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The Island was a POW camp during the Civil War and in close quarters about 1/3 died from smallpox going through very fast.

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Stones 1, 2, & 3 ~  One hundred stones per row.

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Confederate cemetery in the bright sunshine.

 

15The Clock Tower

We also walked an artillery park there. The men enjoyed it and I sat on a bench with the sun on my face!

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I had suggested another stop at a lock so we could park and look for eagles.  I was vetoed.
However, we saw 2 sitting on ice that still remains in some backwater of the Mississippi River.  Beautiful!

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Afterwards, we took a short walk through Target, had mid-afternoon food at  C-fil-A, and headed home.  A good 6 hour day out & about and soaking in the warm air & sunshine!

 

 

 

The last clue added the last row on the outside of the quilt.  The soloist continued a pattern to the centers and the corners.

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She also suggested piecing the backing from stash and I continued in my neutral pile.  And you know …. there are still more fabrics in the bin!  Her instructions included a bit of “sashing” on the back and corner posts.  I did all of this in neutrals but many in the group did another design of colors with this piecing.

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I wrote the label on one of the backing cornerstones before quilting.

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Planning the quilting….  I took a photo of the complete top, printed it in black & white, and then used tracing paper over that master to draw some ideas on paper.  In this photo, some is marked and I’m looking at thread ideas.

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Next up… quilting!

Her Pencil Quilt

It is rare that I get a chance to piece a quilt.  But there are gifts for special ones that go out ‘in haste’ here & there.

This is for a friend’s first granddaughter that is due soon. A family friend found me via FB and asked if I and any of our group’s quilters would like to make a baby quilt.   Sadly, our friend died 7 yrs ago and we thought it would be sweet to bless the daughter with quilts from her quilting friends as her mother would have been doing.  I was the only one that sent a quilt. The baby’s room is painted a golden yellow with accents in navy, purple, and fuchsia.

I chose the accent colors from my stash but just could not find the right background fabric for this.  I could drive 1 – 1 1/2 hrs each way to a modern quilt shop to try to find something which adds up to “take a day trip” with 3 hrs on the road, lunch out, etc.  I could have looked online for awhile and ordered but then I wouldn’t have it in time.  Or… I could dye my own!  My SIL was here and I was asking her help with choosing dyes off my color chart. Nothing was quite right and I was also looking for yellow dyes in the storage drawers.  There NOT on the chart but in my inventory, was pencil yellow.  Yes!  That was the color we wanted and I had bought that on a special – no longer made deal.  Of course, now I love it and hope to get some more pencil yellow fabric from my amount of dye.

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The next day I dyed an extra amount of fabric than my plan needed just to be sure I had enough.  I was also making my own pattern so was just using my guesstimated amount of fabric needed.  I used about a 1/2 strength of dye.  I stirred the dye about every 15 mins for an  hour to have it more of a ‘solid but not quite’ coloring.  I was so excited as I think it came out perfect to what I wanted!
I cut the half-square triangles (HSTs) with my accuquilt Go! cutter.  LOVE IT!  I line up the fabrics that will be sewn together, right sides together, and they come out of the cutter ready to zip under the sewing machine.

Once I had all the HSTs sewn and pressed, I laid out part of the center design.

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Sewed the top together…

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And this also shows some of the quilting marks I made before I loaded it in my machine for quilting.  I had guidelines for the circles and divisions of 8 or 4 per ring.

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First the detail quilting in a variegated thread that stands out on the lighter fabrics.

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The finished quilt – quilted, labeled, bound, & washed.

12Close-up of a corner and you can see the circular designs.  The background fill thread was a matching yellow and a finer size thread.

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The back of the quilt. Once again, without going to buy the fabrics, I pieced the back from other fabrics in my stash.  🙂

I appliquéd the baby’s first initial and a heart, then pieced in the diagonal piece of fabric for an accent.

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I had help from my family & friends on the label verse but I found it fitting since the mom has never met me. It was just a gift from God, with love from one of her mom’s quilting friends.  Sent from Illinois to Mississippi.

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The one who contacted me and the new mother were surprised at how well it matched the baby’s room.  Yeah!  I loved this quilt and had a hard time putting it in the box to ship away.  It was a gift of love so I knew I needed to send it.  It sounds like it was well received.

Ok… here is a wrap-up ~~

One of the last mornings before vacation was over, I lamented to my mom about all the recipes I’d printed out to try that needed redone to go into my cookbook.  Mom asked if I had a 3-hole punch and notebook.  “I could do that!”

This only entertained her for 20 minutes but how wonderful to have this!! Sorted by categories, I had a new package of tabs that she labeled.  A brand-new 3-ring binder.  So easy!  Why don’t we take 20 mins to do these things to make looking for recipes a bit easier?  (and the cupboard to look a bit neater?)  If your mom isn’t there wanting to help, I bet you have a child or grandchild to help you!

I’ve continued to print recipes and I save up only about 3 before I go punch the holes and add to my book.  (…which now needs to grow!)  And for right now, in this busy season of our lives, I’m OK that the pages aren’t all retyped and formatted the same!  🙂

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I continued to sew and she had her knitting and a snack as the morning progressed.  I have a master pattern (mostly) ready to make some tops and jackets. Hopefully, now I can get some clothes made even though I’m not there to tailor to her all the time.

A going-away lunch out with friends who wanted a chance to  visit with my mom before she headed home.

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Early the next morning, we met DBrother & DSIL at a parking lot to switch Mom’s seats and bags.  (….ummmm – where did that tank top weather go???)  DSIL was quite pleased with the new artwork coming to their house!

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We all had good vacation time.  They headed for a long drive home!  I did a bit of shopping and then chatted with a NY sister on my drive home.
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