Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sunglasses Optional - Divide & Conquer Convergence Quilt

Good Sunday Afternoon to You All! How is everyone doing today?

It is another 3-D day: dreary, damp, and dismal. Clearly, I could also add depressing, but I am trying my best to stay positive in these posts.

Today I want to show you what I am been working on for the last few days. On Thursday afternoon, Ricky Tims of The Quilt Show presented a mini lesson on his "Divide & Convergence" quilt, and I could not wait to get started making one.  I knew that I had just the perfect piece of fabric, a yard of Ricky Tims' hand dyed fabric which I had purchased at one of his seminars a few years ago.

Friday morning I got started. Note: You can find his lesson on Youtube on The Quilt Show Channel, on Alex Anderson's Facebook page, or on Ricky Tims' Facebook page.

 I was totally absorbed in the process, and it was good, creative fun! Here is the middle section. Ricky explained the process clearly, and trust me, it was easy to do.

I put a thin black inner border and fortunately had enough fabric left to piece together a wide outer border. Then I faced the real challenge. How was I going to quilt it??? I am an absolute whiz at stitch in the ditch, so I stitched down the columns in the middle section. Then what??? Free motion quilting is definitely not in my wheelhouse. (Perhaps it is a skill that I could consider working on in the stay-at-home weeks ahead.)

I had in mind having big swooping lines diagonally across the piece, and then I remembered  Sue Pelland's Leaves Galore rulers!!! Just what I needed!!! I used the largest template and marked the gentle curve. I drew five such lines across my piece.

 I used two of Superior's Rainbows threads to stitch along the drawn lines. You may not be able to tell from this photo, but the colors of this polyester thread change in one inch increments. Remember to use a 90/10 needle with this type of thread. Even with the correct needle in place, I still had a bit of difficulty, but a quick check of Superior's website  - trouble shooting section - and the problem was solved. It was a matter of adjusting the tension.

The finished piece is BIG . . . 23x31, and this is where the sunglasses come in as it is really, really BRIGHT!

 It's hanging in my kitchen and it will surely wake me up when I come down for breakfast! :-)

If you are a quilter, I am sure you already follow Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville Blog, but on the off chance that you do not, check it out tomorrow as she is starting a "Sew in Place Quilt Along!"

Now because this is acts as my journal, I would like to record some notes on the coronavirus pandemic this week.
 - The United States now has over 110,000 cases and over 2,000 souls have been lost.
 - There have been over 10,000 deaths in Italy and the death toll in the United Kingdom is over 1,000. (The virus has been in Italy longer than the US and the United Kingdom.)
 - Things are starting to improve in China where the disease was first noted.
 - Dr. Fauci says the US could see millions of coronavirus cases and 100,000 or more deaths. Let us pray that this good man is wrong.

So, how do we deal with all of this? I will not say "Stay Positive" as that is not possible. What I will say is "Stay Connected" to family and friends. "Stay busy." "Stay Creative." Find moments in each day that give you peace or encourage you to smile. Pray for all those working to keep us safe. Perhaps record your own thoughts and feelings in a journal, so that one day when this all has passed you might look back and reflect on all that we, our country, and this world have been through.

I wish you peace.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

This & That Thursday

Hello Everyone . . . How are you doing today?

I did not post yesterday as it was a 3-D day: dreary, damp, dismal. Not much was accomplished in this castle, and that is perfectly okay. I truly believe that we need to be kind to ourselves and not put any pressure on us to accomplish things. I did make three masks, but I felt a need to do some hand stitching. The wool applique piece that I wrote about in an earlier post arrived in the mail, and it was just the ticket.

I have become a complete Sue Spargo convert. Previously, I would have lightly fused each wool piece down, but not any more. Sue Spargo has you whip stitch each piece before going back and adding any embroidery or embellishment. She believes that fusing pieces down with an iron will flatten things.  This new piece was not a Sue Spargo kit, but I am incorporating what I am learning in her mini BOM. I've said it before and I will repeat it again  . . . there is no better way to relieve stress than to do some wool applique. Actually, I spent a few hours stitching yesterday. :-)

Today, I would like to share a blog that I follow, Pentreath & Hall Inspiration which is written by a designer who often shares lush photos from the British Isles. He is a fine writer and an excellent photographer. I'm mentioning it here since his post today deals with the coronavirus in London and is well worth reading. I'm adding his blog to my blog list.

[Note: if you do not see a blog list in a column on the right it is because you are following by email. That's great! But, if you scroll down to the very bottom of the email that you receive, you will see something like "View in Browser" or "Web Version." Click on either and you will be taken to the whole page. It contains some of my favorite blog links, my contact information, and a few other things. It will also allow you to scroll through previous posts, locate something I wrote about before, or leave a comment on a post which I would enjoy reading. :-)]

Today, Ricky Tims gave a demonstration of how to do a convergence wallhanging. You may find it on The Quilt Show on Youtube, on Alex Anderson's Facebook page, or on Ricky Tims' Facebook page. Tomorrow I may just give it a try!

Anne R., another Crosstown Quilter, sent me a photo of the pretty new stitch pillow that she made.

You may find the tutorial info at this previous post.  While there, check out Anna's (from the Woolie Mammoth blog) Youtube channel, and if you have fallen down the cross stitch rabbit hole, you might enjoy her "Floss Tube Stitch Roadies" channel. Now, one should never say never, but I am 99.9999999 percent sure that I will not go down the cross stitch rabbit hole. It's beautiful to see, but it is not my thing!

Back to Anne R. who sent along this meme which totally cracked me up!!!

Stay safe, stay creative, and try to smile when you can.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Making Protective Face Masks Update

Hi Everyone . . . How are you doing today?

This morning my friend Maribeth, she of the magnificent "Jack's Chain" quilt seen in a recent post, stopped by to drop off some masks that she had made. Maribeth, Emma, and I went for a walk around my neighborhood. Don't worry; we observed all social distancing guidelines. When we returned to my home, we sat for a bit in my backyard in the pink, plastic, Adirondack chairs which I had never bothered putting away last fall. We sat about eight feet away, but I'm afraid Emma didn't get the  social distancing guidelines and could not get enough of our visitor. Emma loves people and believes that all who come here must be greeted with enthusiasm. That goes for folks that we meet on our daily walks as well. :-)

Using Dr. Lauren Streicher's tutorial, A Surgeons Guide to Sewing a Surgical Mask, I made five masks this afternoon.

Her video tutorial is clear and extremely well done. Who better to explain what our health care workers need? The size of her masks are a tad larger than in some other patterns, and she recommends incorporating a piece of wire edge ribbon inside the top edge. The ribbon sewn into the top of the mask can eliminate any gaps. Watch her short video to see what I mean.

She also recommends labeling the"top" on the back, so the recipient will feel where the mask may be adjusted to conform to his or her face and adding a short message using a permanent marker.

Coronavirus  Update:
- The Olympics have been postponed for a year.
- Sixteen states have now issued stay-at-home orders.
- 1.3 billion people in India are now in lockdown for twenty-one days.
- Ford, GM, and GE Health Care are gearing up to make desperately needed ventilators.
- 3.4 million citizens are expected to sign up for unemployment.
- The stock market roller coaster continues. The man in the White House would like to "open things up" by Easter. His focus is the economy and his reelection bid, not the American people.
 - Good news: Dr. Anthony Fauci, a powerful voice for science and truth, was back this afternoon with the White House coronavirus task force.


Be kind to yourself.

Stay safe. Stay creative. May God bless us all. The world is a very small place, and we are all in this together.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Face Masks

Do not look for anything remotely positive in this post. After listening to the latest White House coronavirus press conference tonight, I simply cannot fake it. I am too scared as should be every American.  The President claims that 'the coronavirus cure can not be worse than the problem itself.' His focus is on the economy and not on us. What good will it be to improve the economy if thousands and thousands of us die? When he was asked if he would listen to the medical experts, he said he would listen to what they say, but their focus might not be his, and he would make the decision about what to do and whether or not isolation measures in any form would continue after the initial fifteen days. He would clearly disregard the advice of doctors from across the country in his desperate bid to rally the economy to help his reelection. Does he not realize that the deaths of thousand might be on his hands? Whom will he blame then???

One more thing... where was straight talking Dr. Anthony Fauci??? Why was he not at the briefing???

As I wrote in yesterday's post, across the country people are sewing protective masks for members of the medical profession. We will not kid ourselves into thinking that these masks are as good as what these dedicated men and women need and deserve, but they are something. That the richest country on earth cannot provide personal protective gear to those on the frontlines fighting this terrible virus is unconscionable.

So many are trying to help in their own small way, that some sewing supplies are now limited, so I thought I might present some alternatives.

The patterns for these masks which are readily available online call for elastic which is now difficult to find. This was 1/2 inch wide elastic which I cut in half.

I also made a number of masks using grosgrain ribbon which I had on hand. Other ribbons would probably be too flimsy.

Stores in our state are closed and there is no elastic available online, but you can make fabric straps which will perhaps stand up better to repeated washings. This may seem basic, but I thought that I would share how I make straps.

First, cut a piece of fabric 2" by 16". You will need four strips for each mask. 

Next, fold the strip in half lengthwise and give it a press.

Open it up and fold each edge into the middle. Also fold up each end. Give this a good press.

 Then fold the strip together to create a 1/4" strip. Stitch the three open edges.

Though these ties do take a bit longer to make, they will hold up better and make the mask more adjustable.

Important UPDATE:  I just came across an excellent video tutorial  A Surgeon's Guide to Sewing a Surgical Mask which I will be using from this point forward.

I wish you peace. Stay creative. Stay well and may God bless us all. The world is a very small place, and we are all in this together.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Sunday Sampler 3/22/20

Good Sunday Morning to you all!!! We have made it through another week of self isolation, social distancing,  staying in our homes, etc... How are you doing?

Let me start by providing a link to a live camera feed from the National Mall Tidal Basin; click HERE to see the cheery blossoms. You will see people, although not nearly as many as in ordinary times, strolling along. They change the viewing angle from around the basin every five minutes. Seeing the cherry blossoms in our nation's Capitol is something that I have always wanted to do. I think I will start a list of things I am committing to do and places to visit . . .  post-coronavirus.

Something lovely to look at . . .

Pat S, a member of our Crosstown Quilters Guild, sent me a photo of her beautiful stitch pillow. She had admired mine at our recent quilt retreat and decide to make one as well. You will find a link to an excellent video tutorial in a previous post, HERE.

I received notification this morning that my internet weekly usage was up 48%. No kidding! ! ! What would we do without it during these stressful days? Emailing,  texting with friends, having a family meeting on Zoom, and reading blogs . . . Let me talk about a few things you might enjoy on Youtube. Alex Anderson @ The Quilt Show is doing a live mini quilt lesson every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1:00 EST on their site and their facebook page. Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimbel, and Steven Colbert are doing mini monologues each night before showing reruns of their programs.  Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel are using skype to interview guests. It's nice to see how folks like Lin Manuel Miranda, Jennifer Garner, and others are coping. By the way, wouldn't you want to have Jennifer Garner for a friend or neighbor?  She's lovely.

While writing this post, I am viewing a delightful St. Patrick's Day posting of "Dinner with the Gaffigans." If you don't know Jim Gaffigan, he is a very funny stand up comedian, and each night he and his family of seven sit down around their dining room table to eat and talk:-). All ages will enjoy spending time with this family. [Note: You may watch any of these programs at anytime on Youtube.]

During the past week, I have watched two John Wayne movies, The Quiet Man  and last night Hondo. I find it oddly comforting watching these old movies, and yes, I have been spending time with The Virginian and the Cartwrights on the Ponderosa, too :-)

I finished the second block of the Sue Spargo wool applique mini BOM which was fun to do except for the palestrina knots in one section. Grrrr . ... I have Sue's Creative Stitching book, but I still wasn't able to figure them out. Finally, on Youtube I found two tutorials which helped, but those stitches are still not good. It's only a small section, so perhaps no one will notice.

Confession: I ordered another wool applique kit this week. I couldn't stop myself. It is spring themed with bunnies, chicks, flowers, and happy things, etc. Seriously, it would have taken a stronger woman than I am to resist. Besides, right now we all need to work on things that we enjoy.

As are folks across the country, I am making fabric masks. There are many tutorials online. It is appalling that our dedicated medical people who are risking their lives for all of us do not have adequate supplies of personal protection equipment. Don't even get me started on that.

Anyway, this is getting long, so may I wish you all peace and good health. Stay creative. Stay well and may God bless us all. The world is a very small place, and we are all in this together.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Jack's Chain and Spring Is Here!

Yesterday was a beautiful day and knowing that today would be cold and rainy, I took Emma for a long walk. Along the way, I photographed these crocuses.

Today, I offer you something beautiful to gaze upon, my friend Maribeth's latest quilt. The pattern is "Jack's Chain." It is pretty awesome in the photo, but trust me, it is even more spectacular in person!!! Look at all of those pieces!!!

Now for some quilt related possibilities. People in the quilting community are stepping up to give comfort and support; none more so than Alex Anderson. She is posting free mini lessons on The Quilt Show. Monday's talk was on neutrals and yesterday she talked about choosing fabric for a project. You do not need to join to see these lessons. She will be giving another lesson tomorrow at 1:00 EST. Simply go to The Quilt Show and click on the "Daily Blog." She is also posting skype interviews with some big name quilters. Yesterday it was Victoria Findlay Wolfe; upcoming are Katie P.M., Bonnie Hunter, and Laura Wasilowski who is offering a free hand stitch along, "Tools of the Trade." The big news is that The Quilt Show is planning something special for International Quilting Weekend; go to the site for more details.

New topic . . . has all this hand washing and cold weather caused painful cracks in your skin? I found something that really, really works, Gold Bond Cracked Skin Relief. It has a thin applicator and you just squeeze a tiny bit into the crack . . .  instant relief. (That is until you again wash your hands and need to reapply it.)

Coronavirus update: Department stores, theaters, and playgrounds are closed. Some supermarkets are offering very early hours exclusively for those 60+, the high risk group. The number of deaths in Italy has now surpassed that of China.

Stay safe and be kind to yourself. We are all in this together.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

St. Patrick's Day and Tom Brady Breaks Our Hearts

A message from Emma . . .

A short post this morning to wish you a Happy Saint Patrick's Day and to tell you about something Alex Anderson of The Quilt Show is doing. Quilters are fortunate that nearly all of us have large enough stashes and projects to keep us busy for the next few weeks. (Truthfully, we probably have enough to keep us busy for five years . . . make that ten years!  :-)

Alex Anderson is offering free mini quilt lessons online; you do not have to join The Quilt Show to view them. Yesterday's lesson on "Using Neutrals" was very interesting, and it will be posted in their newsletter and it is on their Facebook page. (I do not do Facebook, but I was able to watch the lesson.) Note: if you wish to view it on their Facebook page, scroll down to the video that say "neutrals," not the one where she is holding a phone. I believe there will be another LIVE lesson tomorrow, Wednesday @1:00 Eastern Standard Time.

And now, if things were not dismal enough, Tom Brady has announced that he is leaving the New England Patriots. It is hard to believe and even harder to accept, but I am sure that all of Patriots Nation will wish him the best wherever he goes. He has been a great quarterback and a truly class act. We have been blessed to have him for twenty years.

Stay strong. God bless the members of our medical profession, first responders, our leaders, and all  who are trying to deal with this devastating crisis.