Saturday, March 28, 2020

Totalling or Totaling Teal

Just FYI, I learned that “totaling” is American and “totalling” is British.  And while we’re on the subject (and completely apropos to nothing), “selvage” is American and “selvedge” is British. You’re welcome.... That annoying little person on my shoulder (not sure if it’s the devilCathy or the angelCathy) is such a nag sometimes.... May I start my post now? Thank you.

OK, so the solitary confinement is getting to me, I admit it. Well, I guess it’s not solitary, but you know what I mean. This social distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic is getting old. And we’ve just barely started. We’ve got a minimum of another 6-8 weeks of this, and more likely closer to 3 months. But I’d rather be alive and stir crazy than be a dead believer of the talking heads who are more interested in the economy than our lives. But I digress...

This week, despite my continuing inability to stop worrying and start focusing, I did get some sewing done.  I basted two quilts and finished one. Here is the Creature from the Aqua Lab...

I quilted it with just a simple stipple using a variegated teal/aqua cotton thread. The finished quilt measures 40” wide by 51” long. It will go to Quilts for Kids. Sometime. I also basted, but haven’t yet quilted, On Ringo Pond (see last post).  I will have that done before month-end. On Tuesday or Wednesday I’ll do a post to round up all my March quilts finished; there will be either 4 or 5 of them.

If the quilt above looks a bit bumpy, it’s because I have it pinned over the WIP on my design board. That project is another Harambe Sisters quilt. The sisters blocks and background setting triangles are mostly pinned in this picture, but they have been sewn. And in turn, they are pinned over the African panel I will be using as the backing. You can see that poking out around the edges. I’m just trying to make sure these finish roughly the same size (after trimming) as it will be a 2-sided wall hanging, like the one I did last fall.

Mostly this week I cut out and sewed some medical ma*ks (no picture - and I’m spelling out the word with an asterisk to defeat the bots that are deleting blog pix randomly when that word is spelled out). I was going gangbusters trying to organize a few groups in the county, along with the county health department, when I realized that everyone was already 14 steps ahead of me. But that’s a good thing. So, I won’t be doing anything but sewing and waiting for someone to tell me where to take them.

Anyway, I made a photo collage of my Teal/Aqua sewing for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for March. I sewed a total of 59 blocks this month. Not shown in the collage are the teal scrap bucket I made (and counted as one block) and the single aqua International Sister Block I made. But that will show up in a quilt top down the road. Here’s the roundup for Scrappy Saturday.

Of the 18 string blocks, five were used in my Aqua Creature quilt; the rest will go into the string block pile for a rainbow quilt at year-end.

Highlights of our week included lots of talking and face-timing with family, a Zoom video conference with my Weight Watchers group and leader on Tuesday, TP delivery (12 gifted rolls!) from our next-door neighbors, a trip in the car yesterday to get curbside pickup at the pharmacy and the bird food store (a shout-out to Wild Birds Unlimited! Their staff is so wonderful), and a quick trip to a local grocery store where we got some milk, strawberries and an onion, but no distilled water for my CPAP. But we’ll find some, I’m sure, within the next couple weeks. The lowlight (and I’m inserting this here at the end because a lot of people probably won’t read this far) is that Bruce’s cancer is back in 2 places on his arm. Surgery will be next Wednesday at IMC (Intermountain Medical Center) here in Murray. His oncology surgeon and a new, more specialized orthopedic plastic surgeon will operate together. Bruce will be losing one of the 2 arteries that feed his right hand, but still gets to keep it this time around. I’ll drop him off on surgery day, go home and wait, then pick him up when they call me to. These are strange and trying times....

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Life on Hold

I feel as though the world, and my small life and sphere, are on hold. Or maybe a better description is that it’s shrinking. Not that I had any travel plans internationally this year and domestic travel is even not advised. Heck, we’re not even encouraged to go across town unless we have an urgent need. Our lives have been reduced to our homes, solitary walks (presuming good weather and no more earthquakes), and the occasional trip to the grocery store. Not that we’ve tried the grocery store. We’re thinking maybe next week during one of those special early senior hours. Maybe we can restock our fresh fruit and veggies. Or maybe find something chocolate. Priorities, you know.

How are you faring in your corner of the world? Thank goodness we all have our technology to keep us connected with family and to allow so many to conduct business from home. My heart aches for all those who are laid off and for the small businesses who are struggling to stay afloat. Many of them, like many COVID-19 victims, won’t make it.  It will be a changed world when we emerge from this. Whenever that is. 

* * * * * * * * * * * *
There is a growing need for home-sewn cloth face masks in the medical community. Even the CDC (who has some instructions for making them on their website) has OK’ed the use of cloth masks for physicians, nurses and other front-line health responders. They are best used in conjunction with a plastic face guard that can be sanitized. Hospitals can wash and sanitize the cloth masks between their single usages and thus recycle them. So, starting back east, and surely moving inevitably throughout the country, there is an urgent need and call for home sewers to make face masks. There are plenty of sites on FaceBook, YouTube, etc. Just Google Million Mask Mayday. Again, it’s home sewers and quilters to the rescue! Check out this FB page.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

But enough of that (for the moment). Let’s talk, um... maybe Rainbow Scrap sewing??? LOL

I had so many teal/aqua/turquoise scraps left that I decided to add another block to my monthly repertoire. It’s a split-9 block. Please excuse that I didn’t trim the block before I snapped a picture.

I made 9 of them. There is no specific plan for them yet. I’ll just make them and worry about assembling them down the road.

And I did finish the flimsy for my teal/aqua (etc) Creature scrap quilt.

I had so many good name ideas from you all that I wanted to call it The Shaken (Not Stirred) COVID Creature from the Aqua Lab. But that is too cumbersome. So, meet Creature from the Aqualab. As usual, the flimsy is partially pinned and partially hanging from my design wall, so it looks a bit weird. But, we’ll just blame it on the virus...

My March OMG (One Monthly Goal) was to finish up the two flimsies from my On Ringo Lake project from a couple years ago. I’m pleased to say that I’ve finished them both, and will be linking up to Elm Street Quilt’s finish linky party when that goes live in the next few days. It’s live now. Let’s go visit!

Flimsy #1, On Ringo Pond, measures 45x45". We will not discuss the misssssnakes I made in piecing and orientation. This will be a donation quilt.

Flimsy #2, On Ringo Lake, measures about 55x66”. I’ll be keeping this one. It won’t have any big  borders because it’s just right as-is for me. And also because I don’t have anything that’s right for a border and I’m not going out shopping to get any fabric. But now I’m not sure. I could see a thin white stop border and at least some bright binding. We’ll see what I can dig up.

I am so happy to have these flimsies done! This weekend I’ll get the Creature and the Ringos basted and then quilted. I’d like to have them all completed for March. If that happens, I can then turn my focus to finish up my Seeing Stars wall hanging and an International Sisters wall hanging. Both of those projects are ready for assembly.

* * * * * * * * * * * 
So, while the virus rages all around us, Bruce and I are safely cocooned here. Thank goodness we have our hobbies and interests. And I’m particularly glad that Bruce is not only my sweetheart, but my best friend. We get along great, and are even having some fun during the madness. He spends his afternoons in his play area - his “laBORatory” doing “Big Science”.  This week he even voluntarily cleaned his bathroom, no hazmat suit required. Usually I have to ask him to do it first, and then I get a silly reply like (in his best Dr. McCoy from Star Trek voice): “Dammit, Jim, I’m a scientist, not a housekeeper!” Then we laugh and he does it. And I keep busy with my iPad and some housework in the mornings (someone please save me from myself!) and sewing in the afternoons. I think this will get easier as the weather warms up. It would be nice to go outside for awhile.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Shaken, Not Stirred

No, I will not ask the question about what is next for fear of the answer.

This morning, about 7:10 a.m., we were awakened from a sound sleep by an earthquake. We just rode it out in bed; it didn’t seem to last more than about 5 seconds. Having grown up in Southern California, with vivid memories of the Sylmar quake in 1971 (when our front lawn rolled like water in a swimming pool), this wasn’t that bad. Apparently, the quake was 5.7 in magnitude. And, the epicenter was, appropriately enough, in a town called Magna at the very west end of the Salt Lake Valley. There have been more than a dozen aftershocks, only one of which we’ve felt here in Murray. Apparently it’s the worst earthquake to hit Salt Lake since 1992.

About 40,000 people are (or were) without power and sustained some damage. We are business as usual here at our house. I’m reading the news, but not going anywhere to find out anything more than that. Today? More laundry (the never-ending ball and chain), sewing and probably I’ll make that huge lasagna for dinner (and at least five other dinners’ worth the same time).

Now, I want this post to have a picture or two, so here's what I’ve been sewing on...

This is Creature from the Shaking Coronavirus Aqualab. The layout is final, the name is not. But it’s apropos, isn’t it? It’s just mostly pinned up on the wall for now, but today’s project is to finish sewing it all together. I hope to baste and quilt it this week sometime too. What day is it? Oh, only Wednesday. Yeah, I’ll have time to finish it by the weekend. I’ll just check my social calendar to be sure..... hahahaha.

It turns out that I had 50-ish "On Ringo Lake" blocks instead of just the 25 that I thought I had. I finished one quilt top a few days ago (no picture yet; I’ll wait until the weekend). It used 13 blocks, set on point 1,3,5,3,1. Now I’m doing a straight set with 30 blocks (six rows of 5), using the sashing and cornerstones I had already sewn. I’m doing a row per day, so today after doing row #3, I’ll be at the halfway point. No rush. Unless we start shake, rattle and rolling again...

Sewing the two On Ringo Lake quilt tops together was my OMG (one monthly goal) for March, and I’m on track to make it to the finish line. So far, neither plague or earthquake has stopped me, so I’m optimistic. Not tempting fate, just optimistic.

Stay safe, friends. Please stay in and avoid going out unless absolutely necessary. Take care of yourselves. Get plenty of sleep, take your vitamins, practice good hand washing habits and eat healthy things. I’ll meet you here on the weekend.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Germ-Free Sewing

No coronavirus here! At least not yet. Of course, the panic has set in locally here in the Salt Lake Valley. Last week when we went to the grocery store (we go every Friday), it was business as usual. Everything was in stock, and we personally were in good shape food-wise (and TP-wise) because we always have extra in storage. Yesterday, however, it was nuts! But that’s a story that I’ll save for the end of the post, because I bet you’re here to check out the scrappy sewing.

I’m linking up to Angela’s Scrappy Saturday blog post, where you can join the scrappy crowd without fear of germs!

First up this week was the scrappy basket, using a pattern from Angela (link above) has on her blog. This is the third one I’ve made.

Next up was this Scraptastic Stars block.

Using more small scrappy bits and fabric “crumbs”, I sewed three Beachcomber blocks.

I’ve been making Beachcomber blocks since last year, and I decided it was time to see what they looked like together on the design board.  Hmmmm.... not bad. A bit too much background for my tastes. Maybe I should’ve done the background in black and the dividing strip in white. Oh well, too late now. These blocks are 11” each when finished. I have a couple blocks not pictured here, which brings my total made up to 22 of the 30 I’ll need. I plan to do two yellow, two red and two dark greens in the coming months. The quilt will finish at about 55x66”.

And speaking of quilts, I did quilt two small kids quilts (already sewn by others) for Quilts for Kids. I’m pretty sure that ugly bear fabric and hunter green Swiss dot dates back to the 1990’s. As my friend Mary would say, “it looks like the nineties threw up all over it”.

But let’s talk CUTE quilts. I got the two panel quilts (shown last week) sewn, layered, quilted and bound this week for QFK. The directive was to keep them simple and churn them out. I love how bright and cute they are!

This first one looks a bit wonky at the bottom edge, but it’s not. I just didn’t pin it. It finished at 35x47”.

This second one turned out so cute, finishing at 37x47.5”.

Here is a close-up of some of the quilting.  I also echoed the waves, outlined the clouds, sun, boat and bear, and did a lot of ditch quilting so that everything was secure. The quilt borders consisted of a 1” blue stop border and a 3.5” ducky fabric border. That ducky fabric was purchased a couple years ago from Missouri Star Quilt Company online.

It was so serendipitous that I was able to find fabrics in my stash that closely echoed some of the fabrics in these four blocks. I was able to frame the blocks using colors with the same intensity, feel and style of the panel. 

And those are the finished panel quilts (for this quarter!)

Now, I’m jumping back to aqua/teal for a moment just to show you what I’ll be working on this week. The teal “creature” quilt will use lots of spare parts and blocks and scraps. This is just pinned up on the design board for now. There is still a lot of tweaking to do and additions to make.

Luckily for me, I have some sisterly supervisory help. This is one of the International Sisters blocks that Preeti sent me that has a dark background. I’ve named her Jill B, because of a certain Dr. Jill B that was a total bada** recently. This Sister Jill block will likely have a background transplant, as Preeti decided (and I agreed) that the dark backgrounds, when Sister blocks are put together, make a distracting geometric pattern.

Sister Jill B supervises the Teal Creature Creation!
And after the Creature from the Teal ??? is complete, I’ll get to work on my One Monthly Goal (OMG) for March. And hey, the month is only half over! And if you have any ideas for a Creature quilt name (Creature from the Aqua ?, Creature from the Teal ??, Creature from the Turquoise ??), I’d be happy to hear them. So far I’ve got Aqua Aurora and .... nothing. 

So, let me tell you about our shopping trip yesterday. It’s nothing particularly noteworthy or interesting, but I did want to write it down.  I’m hoping that when I read back on this in a year or five years, that can look back and laugh (and shake my head) at what a crazy time it was....

When we got to the grocery store, the parking lot was packed. Uh-oh. Usually early Friday morning is calm and not very busy. We each took a hand sanitizer wipe (we keep some in the car) because I had a feeling the store would be out of the free sanitizers to wipe down the cart handles and hands. We always use those. And I was right - there were none available. So, with clean hands and cart courtesy of our own preplanning, we set out. The store was almost out of some vegetables, but I realized (as I saw them restocking) that it was just a mini-run on carrots, cabbage and potatoes for St. Patrick’s Day’s corned beef and cabbage. Alrighty, then. We got all the produce we needed.

Moving into the dairy section, everything looking a bit picked over. There was sour cream - if you wanted light. Some eggs. The milk was almost gone, but we use almond milk, so that was plentiful. All the breads, pastas and rices (except bulk) were picked over except the whole grain varieties. Perfect! That’s what we prefer.

I had hoped that there might be some toilet paper or hand sanitizer/anti-bacterial soap so I could send some to my daughter Megan in Seattle. Ha! There was none. Besides, it would’ve probably cost me as much to send it ($30) as it's costing her to get it delivered. And then a light bulb went off for me. The TP/sanitizer shortages are partly panic buying, sure, but many hoarders are creating scarcity so they can resell these items for outrageous profits. To them I say this: I hope you get COVID-19 and that by the time you recover (because I only want them to get sick, not die for crying out loud!) that the market is glutted with TP and you loose your monetary butt in the deal. End of rant.

Social Distancing; the new catch-phrase. We’ve decided to just stay at home and cocoon for a couple (three? four?) weeks. Today is my birthday. My son Ryan’s was last Monday. We usually celebrate them together and the whole fam-damily goes out to eat. But we’re not doing that this year. I will probably make Bruce (and me, I admit) some oatmeal raisin cookies though. :-) I have to do something fun!

So, I’ve been sewing and reading. My CPAP machine (I have sleep apnea) keeps dying and shuts down every third night just to be spiteful. So this week, I am sleeping for three nights with a diagnostic unit hooked up to me. It has sensors (nose/mouth, fingertip, chest strap) to record how I sleep without additional forced air to get all the calculations correct for my new CPAP. But that means I snore and wake up with a very dry and sore throat (my CPAP humidifies the air). Not fun. I keep reminding myself that I’m tired and have a sore throat because I’m not sleeping well because of the damn CPAP, not COVID-19.

Stay healthy, friends. Avoid gatherings. Wash your hands a lot. Keep up to date on the CDC website and try to ignore the blathering from the White House and Capitol Hill. We will get through this together, yet isolated. Thank goodness for the online community, right?  xoxoxo - all germ-free!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Teal Zeal

Can you feel Spring in the air? The days are getting longer and the sunshine has some warmth to it! I know that winter isn’t over yet, but the additional light is so refreshing. This weekend is Daylight Savings Time in the US, and we’ll lose an hour as we spring forward in the wee hours of the morning. Damn, I hate Daylight Savings Time! Hmmm...  Alfie wakes me up at 8:00 a.m. every morning. He comes and sits on my shoulder (I’m usually sleeping on my side) and either paws back the covers if they’re pulled up, or else he just gently puts his paw on my cheek. I wonder how or if he will adjust to DST.  I guess we’ll be finding out!

Alfie says to remember to set your clocks forward!

Aquas and teals are perfect colors with which to greet spring, so I was happy to be sewing with these cheery scraps this week. I’m joining the Scrappy Saturday blog party where everyone is showing their blocks. This week I sewed 12 Twin Sisters blocks (6.5” unfinished),

Eighteen string blocks (6.5” unfinished),

and 15 half-hexie selvage blocks, plus the remaining selvages into strip sets.

I sure had a lot more of these aqua (etc) scraps than I thought, so I will definitely be making an aqua fabric scrap bucket next week. I’ll also work on some scrappy Beachcomber blocks and a Scraptastic Star. Last year I sewed garlic knots most of the year and only have two colors left to make to wrap those up, but it won’t be this month.

And since I don’t have any teal or aqua African fabrics, I won’t be making any new International Sisters blocks unless I find a fun American fabric just to sew one for my personal quilt. Instead, I hope to get a couple wall hangings of the International Sisters blocks (backed by an African mandala print) assembled this month. But that’s a couple weeks off, at least.

I did manage to get four of these 12” star blocks sewn for my Seeing Stars Sewalong led by Diane Knott of Butterfly Threads Quilting. Aren’t they cute?

Because I started out the sewalong by doing 8 of every block for the first 4 months (intending to make a quilt) I have more than enough blocks to finish out the wall hanging and table toppers that I decided to make instead. Here is the wall hanging pinned up on the design wall. Only a few of the  seams are sewn. It will finish roughly 30x36”.

I didn’t use the pinks in the wall hanging, but will use them with the other blocks to make two table toppers that will feature more of the pastel colors I used. I’m thinking spring and Easter. I’ll show all those as they all finish up, also hopefully this month. 

In my last post, I showed two kid panels that I need to turn into kid quilts for QFK. Here is the first completed top. In keeping it simple per our instructions, I only added a lime green border stripe. The backing is pieced and everything is ready to be basted.

This second one is still a (limited) work in process. It’s been trimmed and the bottom blocks separated. I’ve added borders to two of the four blocks. There will be a narrow blue border then a wider orange ducky border. I plan to finish this one today and get both the donation quilts layered, quilted and bound this weekend.

There are other quilty things going on, too, like the deconstruction of On Ringo Lake (my March OMG) and two more baby quilts to quilt for Quilts for Kids in the next couple weeks, but they aren’t picture-worthy. So, I’ll wrap it up and get this posted. Have a great weekend, friends!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Setting March Goals

It’s time to set my OMG (One Monthly Goal) for March.  OMG is a monthly incentive program for quilters, seamstresses and needleworkers (etc.). We set ourselves a monthly goal, and if we complete it are entered into a prize drawing. I’ve been participating for a couple of years or more, and my current running streak is 14 consecutive months of setting a goal and completing it.

But this month may be my undoing! I’ve had the following quilt in my backlog of UFOs for more than two years. This month I’m going to move it along, come hell or COVID-19. So, I’m linking up to Elm Street Quilt’s goal-setting post and then will set to work.

Here is how my Bonnie Hunter quilt “On Ringo Lake” has looked For.Ev.Er.  What I’ve finally decided is that instead of one huge, complicated quilt, I am going to make two smaller quilts. So, my first step will be to deconstruct what I’ve got so far. And then I’m going to simplify the setting(s) and sashing and see what I come up with

So, to summarize, my March OMG is to (1) deconstruct the existing half-quilt and (2) reconstruct it into one (or likely two) smaller, simpler quilt tops. I’m anticipating that I’ll have lots of leftover sashing components. So be it; they’ll go into my stash for use in the future.

And speaking of stash, I had a very sweet surprise yesterday. Bruce brought a Priority Mail box down to my studio. I wasn’t expecting anything. It was from my sweet friend Nann (With Strings Attached), and it was stuffed to the gills with fabric scraps! If you know Nann, she is the queen of both scraps and acronyms (she is involved in so many volunteer groups). She labeled the box as a B.O.R.S. (a box of random scraps). Well, thank you dear Nann, because you are O.A.Q.F. (one awesome quilting friend)!

The picture doesn’t do them justice of course. Just that baggie of black and white scraps (center top) took me two (heavenly!) hours to sort through! I realized that the drawers I’ve been clearing out by making my scrappy fabric bins will now be filled with neutral and low-volume scraps (black, brown, gray, white/black, etc). But it’s all good! I’ve already pulled all the yellow, gray, black and white scraps from what Nann sent, added some of my own scraps and fabrics and will be making (this spring) a fun kid quilt with those. And that floral in the bottom right corner just screams for orange, yellow-orange and blue squares to help it along.

And if that wasn’t fun enough, this weekend held another surprise. Preeti and I chatted/face-timed for an hour or more on Sunday! She is a hoot. We were sharing blocks, fabrics and ideas. When I came upstairs after the call, Bruce said “it sounds like you two were having fun down there”. I hope we do it again soon! And we floated the possibility of going to the Sisters quilt show in Oregon possibly this year or next.

But, coming back down to earth today after all that excitement, I’m all about laundry setting goals for March. So, besides the deconstruction and reconstruction of On Ringo Lake above, I’ll quilt a couple kid quilts for Quilts for Kids. I help out our long-arm quilters by doing a few of the smaller kid quilts every month. As well, I’ve brought home two panels for our chapter’s challenge to get over 100 donated panels made into quilts this year. Here are my two panels, along with some fabrics I’ve pulled as potential borders, backing, etc.

The panels were folded up into baggies, so I selected them solely by the exposed colors (BRIGHT!)
The idea is to keep these quilts as simple as possible so the group can whip through them this year.  On the first quilt below, there are four blocks to cut out and do something with (add borders?) and I may add that blue fabric hanging on the left as a quilt border if necessary. The check print on the right will be the back/binding. I could do some fun wavy quilting.

The next one will probably be a bit more straightforward. I am just going to add that green as a border around the quilt and call it good. It’s cute as is and doesn’t need to be chopped up (like the one above). Again, as simple as possible.

Yesterday I broke down and ordered a roll of Warm and Natural batting (40 yards) from Amazon. For years I’ve used the Warm and Plush, but it’s pricier and only comes in 25-yard rolls. With all the kids' quilts I’m doing, it makes more sense to save the thicker stuff for personal quilts and use the basic lighter weight for the kid quilts.

And finally, I’ll be working on my Rainbow Scrap Challenge color of Teal/Aqua for March. I’ve already made headway, but I’ll show that on Saturday. I am hoping I have enough of that color to do a Creature quilt in March. And if a squirrel project crosses my path, I may have to run off to chase it...