Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Party Week

This has been party week in The Villages. Most organizations, clubs, and neighborhoods party this now because many residents are leaving to travel north to spend holidays with family. Not us. We're here sort of twiddling our thumbs because even our regular activities are suspended, unless substitute instructors are found.

Monday evening was our gathering for the Central Florida MQG. The whole post about it is here, but I wanted to share this picture. Of course we took a serious picture first, but this one was the most fun.

Those who wanted could bring a gift to swap. My gift to share was one of the new 45mm endurance rotary blades by Olfa. I bought one for myself and look forward to determining if indeed, it stays sharper longer. The gift I brought home was this ruler. I don't know a thing about it!

At our line dancing holiday party on Tuesday morning at 8:30 am (we begin dancing at 7:30 am), besides sharing good eats, we gift our volunteer instructors to thank them for a year's worth of their donated time. While a card and monetary donation are the custom, I usually step outside the box to make something for each of them. This year Helen - who learns new line dances, practices, and then teaches and leads our Line Dance for Exercise class - received this ornament wall hanging. I made several of these and had fun quilting them. The pattern is a freebie on Bernina's blog, and was designed by Lee Heinrich.

Rosemary - who dances alongside Helen and runs the music - received a wristlet, something she told me last year that she would like to have. Isn't it especially nice to make a gift you know someone wants?!

The only other sewing I've done is to piece a fifth 24" X 24" block for the Wayward Transparency Quilt Along.

Can you see where I had to "make" fabric? I didn't have enough of the middle value to cut the size squares needed, so I pieced two blocks. Hopefully, the piecing isn't too noticeable.

While I have no doubt that everyone else is making one large quilt, I on the other hand will be making five small quilts! Truthfully, the thought of sandwiching, quilting, and binding five quilts doesn't sound like fun at all, but I know they'll make an impact hanging on the wall above the sliding glass doors.

On Saturday I'm going caroling with a group from church who will visit several assisted living places. Then, the following Wednesday (20th), I'm joining my ukulele-playing friends for "Ukulele on the Square." We'll be at Market Square at Sumter Landing on Wednesday morning at 9 am.
photo courtesy of Ron Clark
Can you imagine this square filled with a couple hundred ukulele-players, and singers? Anyone can join as together we sing Christmas songs and a few non-Christmasy songs following lyrics shown on a large screen. This is a first-time activity for The Villages, and it's expected to be a big one! I'm only hoping the weather isn't rainy or cold. Even 40-degrees (which it has been lately) is cold here! Linda

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Piecing, Sewing, and a Berry Merry Wreath

I've been in my sewing room nearly every day and I'm happy to report that I'm up-to-date on all three quilt alongs. I've posted quilt along pictures to Instagram because two of them are hosting giveaways. You just have to show proof of your progress.

This is the #BerninaZenChicQAL progress. I've made all eight blocks, and have a total of 55 of them completed.

For the #YearofScrappyTriangles I've made only one block of each of nine blocks, though I also made Leila's bonus block for registering to receive her monthly newsletter.

Fabric arrived for the last two pair of flannel pjs, and I'll have to say that these were the nicest fabrics to work with! The flannel is called "Chelsea," and it came from a Canadian online shop - Fabricville. I paid a very reasonable price for the yardage, and was pleasantly surprised at the nicer quality of the flannel, as compared to Joann Fabrics. I emailed the company to say so.
Dinosaurs on the left; robots on the right.
Grandsons should find these very soft. And this year they're large enough (size 8s), with folded-up cuffs, that they should be able to wear them for many months. The pattern is "Sleepover" by Oliver and S. Oh, and each grandson is getting a coordinating long-sleeved thermal knit top to go with their pjs. Got them all mailed on Friday.

On December 1 my friend and super-talented quilt designer, Anne Deister of SpringleafStudios, offered a pattern for a free 28" X 28" wall hanging called "Berry Merry Wreath." After seeing her simple, yet dynamic design, I was in a rush to make it. It's extra fun to shop from my own stash. For the background I used scraps from my bin of neutrals, and for the greenery (Friendship Star) and berries, I chose solids. All the patches finish at 2-1/2" square.

For quilting I used circular rulers to... well, quilt circles! The spirals were free motion quilted by eyeball.

My favorite part of circles is filling in with FMQ. 

For the wall hanging backing, I used an incongruous print that had some sentiment behind it. It's one of several fabrics I purchased in the United Arab Emirates, when we visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi (our daughter was working there) in November 2005. The print has some silver sparkles, and though it doesn't look that great with the binding I chose, I'm glad to have put it to good use.

The binding is single-fold, and I used my favorite No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine method. 

This is Berry Merry Wreath that's on my design wall, giving my sewing room a little holiday spirit - the extent of Christmas decorating at our house.

Today, in anticipation of four Christmas parties Monday through Wednesday, I made Crockpot Peanut Clusters as shared with me by my Iowa-Texas friend Patty who found them on Pinterest. I've learned that not all crockpots operate at the same "warm" temperature; ours runs hot. So though I put the ingredients in a crockpot, I sat the crockpot in the oven at the lowest (170-degree) temperature. It successfully melted four kinds of calorie-packed chocolates! I have 97 of these mini cakes, so that should get me through all functions. I plan to remove the papers before I set them out on a serving tray.

The effort of making these reminds me how much I appreciate Dan's work in the kitchen, and that I have greater success in the sewing room. Being in the sewing room makes me a whole lot happier too! Linda

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Sewin' Away

My sewing room has become a bit of a sweat shop in the past couple weeks as I've focused on garment sewing for a little while. That means dragging my Bernette serger out of the box in the closet, and arranging my sewing space a little differently.

I've made three tunic tops for myself, as I'm trying - quite belatedly - to get into the leggings/tunic top phase. What I've discovered is that: 1) I feel somewhat exposed if the top isn't long enough, and 2) I definitely have a pear-shaped figure. Each top I made fits perfectly on the upper half, but is somewhat snug through the hips. Sigh. Hence this picture of the tops, and no picture of me wearing them!

Thankfully, I can make flannel pjs for little boys without worrying too much about a good fit. Baggy is fine, and if the pjs are too big, they'll grow into them. Thus far, I've been able to make only two pair  for two grandsons because I'm waiting for a fabric order from Canada to make two more pair for two other grandsons! It wasn't my first choice to buy flannel from a Canadian website, but JoAnn Fabrics very quickly sold out of suitable designs during their Black Friday sale.

Also, I sewed up another "The Essential Wristlet," a favorite pattern by DogUnderMyDesk. The outside fabric is Blueberry Park.

This is the fifth one I've made, and each one is a little better than the last as I've added an interior zipper pocket; exterior zipper pocket, and a clear vinyl exterior pocket to handily hold a Villager's ID card, needed to get into any rec center.

This wristlet is for a line dance leader who told me her most worn colors are red and blue. The zipper and wrist strap are blue. The inside fabric is a combination of Good Neighbors by Amanda Jean (CrazyMomQuilts), and a favorite Cathy print "blah, blah, blah." The latter is perfect for the cell phone pocket!

An unexpected surprise in the mail was this little Lego creation - a sewing machine! It was put together by my Orlando quilt-y friend, René (RenéCreates). I've admired and wanted one of these cuties, and hoped a grandson might come through for me - perhaps it's a bit challenging for an eight year-old. But this is adorable, isn't it? René is so thoughtful! 

Last Friday evening I attended Advent By Candlelight at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, Oxford (FL), where we have recently been attending. Twenty-five table hostesses set beautiful Christmas tables for seven other guests.

I sat at this table, invited to it by the hostess who is a quilt-y friend. We heard a message, sang carols, listened to a vocal soloist, and enjoyed Christmas treats.

Now a series of Christmas parties is coming, and I don't understand how they all managed to be schedule nearly on top of one another!

Monday evening (11th) I'll be with members of the Central Florida MQG at the home of one of our members. It's a bring-treats-to-share and a gift-to-swap sort of thing.

Tuesday morning at 8:30 am is the Line Dancing for Exercise Christmas party that's also a bring-treats-to-share event.

At 12:30 pm Big Cypress Quilters has a Christmas party with bring-treats-to-share.

Wednesday evening is a neighbor's open house. Whew. Early December partying could prove exhausting! Linda

Monday, November 27, 2017

Quilt Along #3 - Bernina Zen Chic

The last of the three quilt alongs I've been involved with recently is the first one I started in August of this year. It's the Bernina Zen Chic Quilt Along. Since Brigitte Heitland is the face of Zen Chic, and Brigitte lives in Germany, the quilt along blog posts are first available on the Bernina blog in German, then in English.

The quilt, which is made of 12 differently-pieced 60-degree triangle blocks, is supposed to finish at queen-size.

I've decided to make the blocks, and upload pictures to the Bernina website. That means each set of blocks has been photographed. These are the seven sets of triangle blocks I have made thus far.
Block 1
Block 2
Block 3
Block 4
Block 5
Block 6 
Block 7
As you can see, I'm going with a teal/sea glass green analogous color combination. There's one punch color, and mine will be a solid fuchsia! All fabrics are from my stash.

Truth be told, I had to make a couple sets twice. I'm telling you my mistake so you don't make the same...

When printing the foundation paper-pieced pages onto Carol Doak foundation paper, I just hit "print." I didn't notice that my MacBook talked to my Canon MX870 printer and told it to automatically reduce the page size to 92 percent. Argh! I didn't realize the error until I had made the first two sets of blocks, and was printing papers for the third set of blocks! So, I had to remake. Sheesh. Now that have quite a few triangles that are a bit too small to use they'll likely go on the back of the quilt, which I find is the best way to use orphan blocks. 

I wish that Bernina Zen Chic would post one blog page with links to each of the blocks... but they haven't. So to make it easier for you in case you'd like to join in, here are the links to the seven blocks posted so far:

Even though Thanksgiving is behind us, all of us have reasons to be grateful all the time. I'm grateful that this young man - our three+ -year old grandson, Luke - is attending a Christian pre-school. This video made me melt. 

The lyrics are:
Build a steeple, built a steeple
Way up high, way up high
Put your hands together, put your hands together
Close your eyes, close your eyes
Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus
For our food, for our food
Many many blessings, many many blessings
A-men, a-men.
Followed by a really cute grin. 👼

Many, many blessings indeed! Linda

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sewing, Quilting, and Giving Thanks

Last week I finished sewing two Kismet Trinket Boxes from a pattern by Sew Sweetness Designs. I made them for each of our Kansas City grandsons to use for their headphones and MP3 players.

I mailed the boxes to them before taking pictures (oops), but I took one picture before taking apart the box and cutting down the height to about 1-3/4". In spite of having to mess with the pattern to get the box the right size, these should do nicely to protect their headphones. 

The second of three quilt alongs I'm doing is Leila's Year of Scrappy Triangles. I wanted to participate for two reasons.

First, I know Leila. She lived in Des Moines when I did, and we knew each other through the modern quilt guild. She was among a group of modern quilters I taught to sew blocks together using the "web" technique.

Second, I love the idea of using up scraps! What quilter doesn't?!  

Thus far, these are the 6-1/2" square foundation paper-pieced blocks I've made. You'll note that each one has a single triangle on one side and different piecing on the opposite triangle. 

Leila releases a new design every week so that means I'll always have blocks to make! But no worries. It's easy to pull scraps, cut them up, and sew every Tuesday afternoon  with Big Cypress Quilters. Actually the blocks are perfect for sewing on my little, five-pound, aqua-colored Janome Derby.

This past week I also FMQed on our 2018 QuiltCon Charity Challenge quilt. Five of us are making it together. Jane quilted it first, using her walking foot to stabilize all the pieced Waves of the Ocean blocks, and quilt vertical zig-zags of different widths on both sides of the blocks. She did a beautiful job.

I added some ruler work, and a lot more free motion quilting to fill in some of the spaces in the centers and sides of the pieced blocks, and along some of the zig-zags. I have passed it off to another Linda who will add binding and a hanging sleeve.

We've named the quilt "Florida Waves" (the traditional block is called Waves of the Ocean) and it will be included in a display of Central Florida Modern Quilt Guild quilts at World Quilt Florida on January 18, 19, and 20 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Then, the quilt will be shipped to Pasadena for display at QuiltCon from February 22-25. After the quilt is returned to us, we'll donate it to a charitable organization.

I've also been piecing blocks for the third quilt along I'm involved with, and sewing clothes. Mostly though, I've been counting my blessings and feeling extremely grateful.

An appointment with my oncologist this week was a positive experience. In four more months it will be five years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer (lumpectomy and radiation). I just learned about a new test (developed in the past year or so) called the "breast cancer index." It's now being used to examine tissue collected when the cancer was first treated, and determine: 1) what risk there may be in the cancer's return, and; 2) whether it's beneficial for the individual to remain on the hormone drug treatment for another five years. My drug treatment for the past four years and eight months has been Arimidex. When I return for my next check-up in May, I'll learn the results of the tests on my own tissue, and whether I may be permitted to go off Arimidex. I am certainly hoping I'm a candidate for going off Arimidex so as to not have to always deal with weight gain, and seven to eight hot flashes a day.

Still, I am counting my blessings and all the things for which I am grateful - our families are healthy; Hogan (our dog) recently passed 14 years old, and except for being deaf, is well; and Dan and I are living happily in our home and enjoying our retirement lifestyle.

God is always good, and wants only the best for us. Happy Thanksgivings, friends! Linda

Sunday, November 19, 2017

RE-Catching Up!

Oh my! I messed up on my last post. I thought I was all caught up on the Wayward Transparency Quilt Along and then discovered I wasn't! How I found out is through Yvonne (QuiltingJetGirl) who's the Wayward designer! It seems that she reads my blog, and in her comment she gently suggested I reread the last quilt along instructions.

Whoops. Piecing step #2 was to actually piece together four 24-1/2" (unfinished) blocks. So this was my Saturday evening piecing fun. I sewed together two of these blocks...

... and two of these blocks.

I couldn't resist putting them together on my design wall, and I'm really liking it! Can you see the transparency effect?

The next step on November 24 will likely be to decide if I want to keep my quilt at 48", and if so, which of these arrangements to sew it into.

Or, I could decide to set it on point and add Kona Flame (darkest orange) setting triangles on four sides to make a 68" square quilt.

I have until Friday to decide how I'll proceed, but I'm leaning toward the 48" size thinking I could put it on a white wall across from the tangerine orange wall in the living room.

Feels very good to now be caught up on the along! Linda


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