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

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wayward Transparency Quilt Along

I'm participating in three quilt alongs! I didn't really plan to join that many, but as each one came up,  and I found I have the fabric to make the project, I thought, "Why not?" 

The first one I'm doing is the Wayward Transparency Quilt Along led by Yvonne Fuch's (QuiltingJetGirl). The description of the along is here. We not so far into it that you couldn't join in too. Right now!

For quite a while now, I've been fascinated by transparency as a quilt design element. 

If you're not familiar with transparency, the way I explain it is... the design looks like fabrics have been layered over each other, changing the depth of color. The look is accomplished by using several different values - light, medium-light, medium, medium-dark, and dark - of color. 

I really like this transparency quilt. To give credit where it's due, the name of this quilt is Jewel Box by Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle.

I also love this Richard Blanco piece which is acrylic paint on canvas. Can't you imagine it recreated with fabric? 

But until I fully grasp the interplay of values, I'm practicing with Yvonne's along. These are two transparency quilts that Yvonne has made. The first one was shown at QuiltCon 2016 in Austin.
 

This is the quilt we'll make for her along. I'm making the 48" X 48" size. 

We were to choose three values of a color. I went with the orange, but had to go through a half dozen different combinations of orange to get the "right" ones. My fabrics are:

light: Painter's Palette Amber
medium: Moda Grunge Tangerine
dark: Kona Flame 
The best way to select a combination with enough contrast is to take a picture of the fabrics together, and then use photo editing to turn it into a black and white picture. The values should really stand out. 

I'm up to date on the "assignments" for the quilt along. I've done the piecing and sewing for steps one and two.



On November 24, Yvonne will release the third piecing step. Then the fun really begins as we see the whole design coming together. I know what I'm going to be working on in December! Linda

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Central Florida MQG Quilt Challenge

While it seems like I haven't been doing much sewing or quilting, in fact I have, but just haven't been able to share it. That's the downside of participating in a quilt challenge when a reveal date is set and other quilters are voting on their anonymous favorite. There's no sharing on social media.

The upside of participating in a quilt challenge is pushing oneself to design and implement an original creation. That's certainly not my strong suit! But I keep banging my head against a brick wall...  Err. Trying.

For the latest Central Florida Modern Quilt Guild challenge, we were to first bring to a meeting any non-quilting magazine. Well that was a tough one to begin with as I don't subscribe to any magazines! But happily, members brought along several different ones to share. I chose this, the April 2017 issue of Real Simple. 

Then, we were to look at pages 48 through 52, and choose a page from which to take inspiration to make a quilt. Our quilt design concept could be gleaned from any of the page's elements - colors, shapes, and such - and the quilt could be made any size we wished.


This L'Oreal ad for Wrinkle Expert cream on page 49 spoke to me. I mean, the topic was wrinkles for goodness sake! The second was the colors - royal blue, fuchsia and purple. I also liked how the curved colors darkened and lightened.

My last bit of inspiration was from the Wayward Transparency Quilt made by Yvonne Fuchs (QuiltingJetGirl). I've been long-enchanted with transparency quilts, and at the time I started this challenge I was choosing fabrics for Yvonne's Wayward Transparency Quilt Along. I applied Yvonne's color/value lesson to choosing values for my challenge quilt.

I made the curved pieces using the Quick Curve Ruler, and was happily surprised that the design went together rather quickly. Guess that's what comes of creating minimalistic. Here's a black and white photo of the quilt so you can see the values.

I positioned the colors to match the ad. 

As I've said, my skill is not in designing, and I continued to question my choices. I decided to email the above picture to a long-distance friend (I've never met her in person) who I implicitly trust when it comes to anything quilting related. After all, she's a past QuiltCon award winner, among other talents! Paige (QuiltedBlooms) replied with several helpful suggestions.

Mentioning that artists give weight to color, she suggested I rotate the quilt 180-degrees to position the darkest values at the bottom. Then, she drew on the picture I'd sent and returned it drawn with simple quilting lines. I modified it only slightly.
Wrinkles Fade Away
Paige also suggested the name that I immediately latched onto. Thank you for all your help, Paige!

Batting is Quilter's Dream Wool which I love for the dimension it gives to quilting which is entirely walking foot quilting done on my Bernina. 

Whatever colors of thread I had on hand that came close to each color and value - Aurifil, Mettler and Prescencia - were used for quilting.

Binding is pieced to match the color changes that happen on the quilt front. I used my No Tails Binding method, of course!

"Wrinkles Fade Away"
Finished October 2017
30-1/2" wide X 39-1/2"
Fabrics: mostly Painter's Palette solids, and some Kona solid
Batting: Quilter's Dream Wool 
Threads: Aurifil, Mettler and Prescencia.
Quilt label has a photo of the magazine page.
Wrinkles Fade Away was revealed at the Central Florida MQG meeting on Monday evening, November 13. Eleven modern quilts were shown and members voted for their three favorites. I placed second, and I'm feelin' pretty happy about that!
First place on right; third place on left.
Linda

Monday, November 6, 2017

Gator World and More

Before our family left on Saturday, November 4, we shared other fun activities, including visiting Gator World Parks of Florida in nearby Wildwood. It opened several months ago and is literally 10 miles from our house. What an educational place to go, and seeing alligators is the perfect activity for two little boys.

When you drive through Gator World Park you see large, double-fenced enclosures full of all types and sizes of alligators. You can't leave your car to go up to the fences, but we slowly drove around them twice to see all the gators - hundreds of them.

Then we parked and walked to the petting/feeding area.

Here is an outdoor glass booth full of small alligators. We thought the gators were babies, but in fact they're only small because they have been raised in a small enclosure. Gators grow as large as the space they're raised in.

The gator that everyone got to hold has it's mouth taped shut.
Tay
Aesa
Daughter Jill
 The whole family posed with "Big Al" a real taxidermied 15-foot gator.

Then came feeding the small gators. About 100 of them are in this 8' X 8' enclosure. 

The attendant put a piece of turkey hot dog on a wire at the end of a fishing pole. 

The boys took turns holding the pole about an inch above the water, until an alligator caught it. 

We learned that all the gators in the park are rescued from farms (think boots and purses), or relocated because they're nuisance gators. Their diet is various sizes of specially-made pellets (depending on the size of the alligator), except for the occasional turkey hot dog or chicken gizzards. 

Feeding gators was followed by feeding goats... 

... and holding and petting rabbits.



Gator World is a really great place to take kid, and I'll admit that I sure found it interesting too. I have no doubt we'll make return visits with other grandchildren in tow. 

Our Kansas City family likes geo-cacheing too. We did most of that via the golf cart. 

On Friday before they went home (Saturday evening) we had a small birthday celebration for both boys, as we didn't get to share Tay's eighth birthday with him in September. And Aesa turned seven years old today! The number 8 and the number 7 were on one cake. 

They were excited to receive their gifts of an MP3 player and headset. They like music and audiobooks, and it was great to see them sit quietly, seemingly entranced, and in "the zone." 


Now that they've returned home, our house is too quiet. Even Hogan has been wandering around, seeming to look for them. The house has been set to rights, my sewing room has been restored, and I'm ready to power-up a sewing machine.

But first, on Tuesday afternoon I'm showing Big Cypress Quilters my favorite binding method: "No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners By Machine." I'll be demonstrating by putting binding on the raffle quilt made by Big Cypress Quilters, for Quilting Guild of The Villages, for the 2019 "Showcase of Quilts." After that I'll be in my sewing room. Just watch as the fabric and threads fly! Linda

Two Weeks of Playing

If it seems like I've been missing in action, I have!

Beginning October 21 with preparations for having company, we've had two wonderful back-to-back visits with friends and family, in that order.

First, our longtime friends Patty and Greg from Texas flew to spend four nights with us. We helped celebrate his 66th birthday by taking them to Universal Studios' City Walk in Orlando...

.... where we ate dinner at Margaritaville, and saw the Blue Man Group. It was the third time for me to see that show, and it still makes me laugh.
Greg and Patty
This was their third visit with us here in The Villages. It's always fun because we find plenty to do - Patty and I get pedicures, go shopping, and hang out. If we're ever at a loss for something to do, we play some pretty intense Mexican Train Dominoes.

After that great visit with Patty and Greg we had two days to catch our breath before two grandsons flew in from Kansas City for seven nights. This is what my sewing room has looked like since October 28. How 'bout that colorful design wall "headboard" over a double air mattress?!

Our daughter Jill has an annual business conference in Orlando, so we picked up the three of them at the airport, delivered Jill to her hotel, and took the boys home with us.

It's always high energy time with those two - Tay is 8 years old; Aesa is 7 years old today! - and we were on the go nearly all the time. With them, if going to the swimming pool isn't enough, we go on a golf cart ride.

We carted to a house decorated for Halloween. 

Tay the vampire is the only one who wanted to go "trunk or treating" at a local church, so that's what he and I did.

We played miniature golf. Bapa won.

We wandered around the boardwalk at Lake Sumter Landing... 

... noting how high the water remains since Hurricane Irma who dumped 11" in our area on September 10-11.

The Florida Soft-shell Turtles were hovering in the vegetation.

We played boccĂ© ball a couple times, and Aesa figured out how to set up the perfect score. 

The boys watched BattleBots on TV. Bapa explained that team MIT had "glasses power," and taught them the "glasses power" hand sign.

Animal Kingdom
On Tuesday, Tay, Aesa and I returned to Orlando to meet-up with Jill, spend the night, and head to Animal Kingdom. It was a first-time visit for all four of us.


This is the 145 foot-tall Tree of Life which is pretty amazing. It has carvings of 325 different animals.

By far, we had the most fun visiting the Africa section. The boys got Wilderness Explorer Guides and we made sure to stop at Troop Leader Stations throughout the park (there are 31 of them), so the boys could learn about animals and countries, and earn badges for their guidebooks.

Jill and Tay

The biggest mistake I made was agreeing to go with the family on the Expedition Everest Yeti Rollercoaster. OMGosh. It was awful! It's one thing to travel forward at 50 miles an hour, but it's completely another to roll backward in the dark, at that speed! It was the longest, most terrifying 2 minute, 50 seconds of my life. I'll never do that again! Aesa didn't like it either.

In the late afternoon we headed over to the new area (opened May 27), Pandora, thinking the crowds would be down. Nope. It was pretty crowded for a Wednesday.

The scenery is definitely amazing. 

The magnitude of these floating mountains isn't captured in my photos, but they're magnificent! I think they're especially remarkable because our structural engineer son, Brent, helped create them. He works for the company responsible for designing and engineering the support system.


Tay

This picture was taken pointing skyward. Weatherize, we had a gloriously beautiful day with perfect temps and low humidity. 

After wandering around, we decided to tough out the long line for Na'Vi River Ride - a 3 minute 30 second boat ride. We were told the wait was 80 minutes.

This is how long we actually waited in line. 

In fact, we're certain that to get the people through faster the ride itself was rushed. We spent about 2 minutes 45 seconds in that boat. Sheesh. Another "never again."

I will say that the prettiest part of the boat ride was seeing the oversized Neytiri character who sang along with hand motions.  

As we left the park toward 8 pm, the Tree of Life was lit-up. Quite impressive.

This day was an especially long one. We didn't get back to The Villages until 9:30 pm. But it's definitely a day for the memory book (blog book!). Linda

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