Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Virtual Quilting Retreats

Lovely bunny project
This month, I attended two virtual quilt retreats. Since COVID, I've stitched via Zoom with a couple small quilting groups. I liked the experience. I have missed our in person quilting days in addition to all the other in person activities I did before COVID. Zoom, for me, is almost like meeting in person.

The first quilting retreat was through the Mt. Hood Quilters guild. We drove to the church parking lot, where we met pre-COVID, on a specific day and time to pick up our retreat packets. There were at least five small wrapped and numbered gifts in the bag which we opened at various times throughout the retreat. I didn't photograph the gifts which I should have! All were wonderful! The retreat was scheduled over four days--Thursday through Sunday. The hours were 9am-7pm Thursday though Saturday and 9am-3pm on Sunday. 

I quilted on Unity during the retreat. I finished the last skinny border and started quilting the last full border. Every day, the retreat chair would ask a question and over the course of the day each person would answer as she called each of us by name. This was a great way to get to know people. 

One of the retreaters led us through chair yoga exercises which was a great way to break up the day as well as help the body continue to quilt. There was a lot of interaction
Retreat blocks
between the 32 attendees. I liked how people posted their show and tell projects on the Facebook page associated with the retreat. We had a story night which was wonderful.

We sewed two Lovely Bunnies for charity. A Lovely Bunny is a small comfort item for new parents who are waiting for their baby to arrive and whose baby may spend time in the NICU. We learned that sometimes, the parents hand stitch the kit while they wait for their baby to arrive because it gives new Dads a task for their fingers rather than worry about outcomes. 

In the photo you see the back and the front of the two that I made from the kit that was in my bag. I didn't have the fabric paint to complete the face which goes on the white square in the yellow  bunny. I will make more of these as I have some flannel which will be perfect for this project.
Me with my retreat bag

The first morning after the retreat, I missed hearing the "Good morning" greeting. I loved having company while I quilted away. I missed the camaraderie! I had a lovely experience.

The second online retreat was through the Clark County Quilters. It also was a Thursday through Sunday event. It has been five years since I've attended a retreat. Previously, the dates didn't work in my calendar. I was a late addition and the last to the group which had 43 participants. I got in because someone was unable to attend. This retreat had a retreat block which was Salt and Pepper by Kim Schaefer with Andover fabrics. Those that wanted to participate made four blocks. I loved the blocks and hoped that I would win some back to make this quilt!

You could also participate in a fabric square exchange. This year we exchanged 40 black and white ten inch squares. If I adapt the pattern a bit, I may still be able to make this quilt using the ten inch squares. If you wanted to participate in the block drawing and exchange, you had a deadline to submit your items. The committee collated the fabric squares back to the participants. The chair drew the winners for the blocks and included the blocks in the appropriate
Results of a scavenger hunt

retreat bag.

The committee person in charge of my group delivered the retreat bags to each of us. Another committee member and friends stitched all the bags. Sadly, I wasn't a block winner. Those that were the winners though could have their project quilted if they put their blocks together before retreat. What a sweet incentive! Three of the four winners took advantage of that option. The retreat chair is a longarmer.

We played games. One game was a scavenger hunt which was a hoot! I liked that the winner was chosen based on participation rather than who had the most right answers or who texted the photo first. I liked that approach. The games were a great stretch break too!

I spent most of my days quilting Unity. The background swirl takes a lot of time to stitch. I had a goal to piece three "Frolic" blocks and to put a few pieces of fabric on the butterfly collage. Most days I completed the first two goals.

If this had been an in person retreat, I wouldn't have been able to work on the butterfly or the quilting because of space issues. I loved sleeping in my own bed and not packing all my supplies. Yesterday, I mailed my registration for the  Spring retreat which happens at the end of February.

For people who can't get away to an in person retreat, a virtual retreat is great. In person retreats are great too and I expect that both will exist in the future. Connecting with fellow quilters so often this month sure has improved my spirits. It was great to laugh and it was great to hear laughter!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Frolic--Post 4

Making geese with green wings
The beginning of March was my last "Frolic" post. I had started clue number six. Later that month, Bonnie Hunter released clues for her "Unity" quilt. Like any self respecting squirrel, I started working on that project and left this one languishing in the project box!

At the end of the month, Bonnie will release the fabric colors and yardage amounts for her next mystery quilt. I decided that even though I'm still quilting "Unity," I had better make progress on "Frolic!"

I've been at a virtual retreat since Thursday. Today is the last day. It has been fun. I've worked on stitching blocks a little of every day of the retreat. Making progress is great!!! Our Mavens group got together via a Zoom sewing session at the beginning of October. At least one other person was working on their "Frolic." Those members, who had finished "Frolic," stitched  other projects. A number of the Mavens were working on another Bonnie Hunter projects which was fun too!

In my last post, I had started step six which was making geese with green wings. It took me a couple hours to figure out where I was with the project. Another participant, who is putting her blocks together, expressed the same lament. We both figured out what we were supposed to be doing and we made progress.

Making HSTs and a few pinwheels
I spent another couple shorter sewing sessions to finish step six of the mystery. I waited a few days before I tackled step seven!

In step seven, the directions were to cut a whole lot of half square triangles (HSTs). Some we left unstitched; some were stitched in HSTs and some were stitched into pinwheels.

I also completed step eight. In this step, we were to stitch different wings on the geese. The most challenging part of the last several steps has been to keep the various like parts kitted together! 

Stitching geese with coordinating wing
Currently, I'm working on the last step. I've stitched a few blocks together. I'm stitching slowly and carefully. I'm finding how easy it is to turn the blocks to a design other than the one I should be making! So far, I'm liking the results. I am awed at how the parts come together at the end. 

Bonnie's projects sure have helped me use a lot of scraps! Unfortunately, I have yet to finish one of her projects; however, I am moving closer to a finish on Unity! Since all but the aqua fabrics are from stash, I'm linking my post to Oh Scrap!

Regarding COVID:

Worldwide: 42.8M cases; 1.15M deaths

United States: 8.64M cases; 2.25K deaths

Oregon: 40,443 cases; 635 deaths

The first whole blocks

The number of COVID cases is on the rise everywhere. Sadly, it is going to be a long time before I get to have a sleepover with the granddaughters. It is getting colder and people may choose to take their outdoor meet ups indoors where more transmissions may occur. 

Regarding the protests: Tuesday night, the media reported protesters had made signs and then marched to the ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) building to adhere their signs to the fence. The event began peacefully around 7pm; but by 10pm federal officers were warning the crowd not to set fire to the building. It seems that the number of protestors is decreasing. It seems the targets of the protestors are increasing.

Regarding voting: "The Guardian" reported that more than 50 million people have already voted and that it is forecast that 65% of the population will vote in the upcoming election. The percentage could be the highest voter turnout since 1908! Statewide, 9.5% of the ballots have been returned. In my county, 38% of the people have returned ballots. 

I like the approach the candidates in the Utah governors race are using. They appear in a joint ad saying that they can agree to disagree without hating each other. I hope other politicians will take notice and follow suit. Currently, candidates spend their advertising monies on attack ads. It is difficult to weed through the muck to learn what the candidates' platforms are. When I was in elementary school, I can remember my great grandmother capturing printed materials that listed the platform of the candidate. She would research their background to see if they actually lived similarly to their platform. Remember, I grew up in a small community so this wasn't a difficult task for her to do! There was always a lot of discussion about how the campaign was like a job interview. She had a unique perspective on politics. She was also known to call a candidate and get the facts from the "horse's mouth" as she called it!


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Family Catch Up

Painting the barn
On the first "breathable" day after the fire, Bob painted the barn. He painted it the "suburban red" color that it was when we first moved here thirty one years ago!  Although the air quality index stated the air was "good," the air was too smoky for me. After taking this photo, I had a coughing fit so I spent the remainder of the day inside!

After he had completed the painting, he researched gutters for the barn. Bob determined what he needed. The structure had never had gutters. When it rained, the water would splash on the lower boards. Over time, the boards rotted. These new boards are destined to last longer than the previous ones did!

Bob purchased his supplies, brought them home and he laid out the pieces. He found he was a few pieces short. In his working days he estimated materials for building highways. He was excellent at his job. He had to know why he was short. The reason, he discovered, was a misinterpretation of the packaging information. The package read 'contains two' which Bob thought was two separate pieces turns. Actually,  the total package contained the parts to make one piece of the gutter. He solved that mystery!

Bob assembled the gutter pieces so that when his friends came the following day to assist, all that remained was to put the parts in place and attach the parts with screws.

Ensuring the supports were in place
It took less than two hours to complete the gutter project. We have had rain since the completed installment. We watched how well the gutter system works. Painting the barn will happen again; but, we won't be replacing siding because of rot!

I was glad that his friends came to help as this was a two person job with the third person acting as ladder holder and "gofer." "Gofer" being the person who goes for this and goes for that!

My pen pal, who is my eight year old granddaughter, has written me eight letters. She told me that although balancing letter writing with school was challenging, she plans to continue writing for a good long time. Truly, since we've been writing to each other, mail has become much more important!

She still address the envelope to "Gran," which makes both me and her papa smile. She often shares a story and often asks questions. Her penmanship has improved greatly since we started. Sometimes, it is a bit of a puzzle to figure out the word that she spelled; but, I love every minute of reading! Her first letter arrived at the end of July.

Greg and Rod ensuring the project progresses smoothly
We also have a "phone day" which she gets to call and chat after she has finished school and her homework. My day is Monday sometime between 1:30 and 4:30 in the afternoon. She calls her Papa on Tuesdays and her Auntie on Thursdays. She calls her other Grandmother on Wednesdays. Fridays she spends with her dad because he doesn't work on Friday.

I treasure these days because with technology, we get to FaceTime. I get to see her and her sister too. I miss our face to face visits and the overnights that we had. They are growing up fast and COVID keeps us from hanging out together. Her two last calls were without video. 

A Gladiola that Bob planted this year

The first time that she called not using FaceTime, I asked her if she wanted me to call her back because we weren't on FaceTime. Her response was, "Today, I'm calling on our old fashioned phone. Daddy says I need to learn how to use it." She went on to describe all the features of the phone. It had a base and a cord so you can't walk far. She concluded, "Daddy calls it a landline. What a funny name for a phone!" I had to chuckle over her use of landline and old fashioned.

I remember eating shredded wheat cereal in my grandmother's kitchen while she talked on the phone which was a wooden box that hung on the wall with a receiver and a crank. You cranked a specific number of times to get an operator who connected you to your party! It was also a party line so if you heard voices when you picked up the phone you were supposed to put it down. Although, there was a lot of listening in! I wonder if the game "telephone" originated from this experience!

Each household had a particular ring so you knew which call was for you. We progressed to a ring which just for you and went to private lines. Phones changed over time too. 

Evidence of the lunch delivery

The crank went to a dial model and you sat next to the phone to talk. I remember how cool it was to have a sleek princess phone in a color! Later, the cords became long so we could do other activities while we talked. The dials became buttons so we could dial faster. Answering machine options became available as did caller ID and call blocking options too. 

Now we have cell phones and landlines are few. Watching episodes of popular TV shows produced in the 80s and seeing the portable phones in that day makes me appreciate technology improvements and advances. Now, it is possible to watch videos, take photos, send e-mails, and much more in addition to talking on the phone. So yes, dear granddaughter, that landline is old fashioned to you!

On the other hand, my husband asked the youngest granddaughter if he could drop some fresh apple cider at their house. He said she didn't even pause with her "That would be splendid, Papa," response! My grandma used to make apple cider. It was the drink at Halloween, Thanksgiving and IF the apples had stored well, Christmas. It was my favorite drink. 

Along with the cider, Bob also dropped off lunch. With COVID, the granddaughters don't leave the house but to kick a soccer ball around or to take a neighborhood walk. This lunch delivery was special. Photo is courtesy of their dad, J! Ah. . .family. . .I'm so fortunate to have such a special one!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Thoughts When Unpacking After the Fire--post 3

The "important" stuff
I've been unsuccessful with downsizing the items that are crammed in my studio space for more years that I can remember. I'm much better at collecting and cramming the stuff into the studio!

Packing the important stuff that we couldn't replace was an eye opening activity. When we unpacked, I had the opportunity to inventory what I had since all the quilts were together in one place.

I also had the opportunity to review what was "important!" Surprisingly, few WIPs made it into the "important stuff." The majority of my collection of quilting supplies that has infiltrated many areas of the house, also did not make it into the "important stuff" load. 

The unpacked quilts
I packed no books and no patterns. I packed few tools. Three works in process projects made it into the load. Few fabrics were packed as well. I have several WIPs that are either at the quilting stage or a few borders away from the quilting stage. In the past, I have resisted determining how many in process projects I actually have. Perhaps, I should at least prioritize some of the projects because I still am not interested in knowing how many projects there actually are.

Since I noted that I packed the finished projects, I am even more determined to work on my finishes. The old adage, "Done is better than perfect," sure made sense in my case! I have done well to not purchase fabric because I liked it for the last four years. I have limited my fabric purchases to what I needed for the project that was under my needle. I still have bags of Martha's strings and bits so I need to make better progress on charity projects in her memory.

Perhaps it is a rose colored view, but, I still plan to sew myself into more space rather than toss the bags and bins that are cluttering my space. Perhaps, I would make more progress to that end if I always have a charity project in the piecing stage and one in the quilting stage. Currently, I have two projects at the quilting stage and one in the piecing stage.

Zooming with friends while I sew myself into "space"
I  do realize that I need to be faster with my machine quilting. I know that I would benefit from a longarm; but, my room isn't big enough for 13 foot frame and purchasing a smaller frame doesn't seem practical since I want to quilt at least one king size quilt a year. I've more to think about and I'm not getting any younger so I need to figure out how to make progress on the studio reorganization.

Since the quilts were all together when we unpacked, I took an inventory of how many I had. Truly, I had no idea. My family guessed at how many quilts were in the house. They had some fun guessing. The guesses were: Bob--876; S.--172; Amanda--123; Nicole--100; J.--65; Me--50ish.

Me with the retreat tote bag for retreat
In that pile were 67 quilts that I had made and 25 quilts that others had made. J and Nicole definitely were the best estimators. I also thought about the quilts that I've given away over the years. I came up with 44 of those. In 40 years of quilting, I've quilted 111 quilts. Perhaps, the next 100 quilts won't take me 40 years to stitch!

They don't all fit in the closet. I've decided to rearrange the items again so they do fit. I want the majority of my quilts to be in the same room!

Next week, I'll be participating in my second virtual quilting retreat. I had fun at the last retreat which was a couple weeks ago. I made a lot of progress on quilting Unity. I plan to make more progress next week on Unity and even the butterfly as I'm nearing the point of needing the design wall for "Frolic" which was was Bonnie Hunter mystery from last year!

Regarding Covid:

Worldwide:39.6M confirmed; 1.11M deaths

United States: 8.12M confirmed; 219K deaths

Oregon: 38,935 confirmed; 617 deaths

Ballot ready for the ballot box
This week a physician was in for a CPR skill check that I administered. I asked him how his patients were doing. He reported that many didn't believe that COVID was as dangerous as it is. He commented that more of his patients were getting flu shots than in past years. He also said that patients can't wait for 2021; but, he cautions them that 2022 will be when we experience the type of normal that we use to have. It will take time once the vaccine is available to vaccinate 70% of the population.

Regarding the protests: This week, protestors targeted the Oregon Historical Society smashing the front windows and tossing flares that landed on the carpeting. Fortunately, the flares went out leaving scorch marks on the carpets. Sadly, an African-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative quilt was taken. The makers finished the quilt in 1976. One of the makers is still living. Fortunately, the quilt was recovered. It suffered damage and will need professional restoration. It has dirt and water damage from being drug through the mud and getting rained on. Some of the colors in the fabric ran. 

Regarding the fires: Oregon Highway 22 opened this week. Workers removed 30,000 hazard trees along 40 miles of the highway. A hazard tree is one that could cause damage if not removed. Because significant work is still going on in the area, highway speeds have been reduced to 40mph. Unless significant news happens next week, this will be my last update regarding the Oregon wildfires.

Regarding voting: Twenty two million people have voted which is more than ever in history. I marked my ballot yesterday. Today, my husband took both of our ballots to the ballot box. We always use the ballot box. 



Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Unity--Border Nine--Post 15

Block overview
Quilting the broken dishes portion of the block puzzled me for a long time. When I pieced the blocks, I thought about about stitching a continuous curve in the red triangles. I also struggled with what to quilt in the light and dark blue squares.

For the broken dishes, I decided to quilt straight lines with a ruler. Looking at the triangles that kissed gave me the idea. Actually the word "kissed" gave me the inspiration to quilt the pairs in straight lines! This quilt will go to my daughter and her husband when they marry. Quilting the pairs with quarter inch lines fit great!

In the light and dark blue squares, I quilted a circle with the template and I quilted the squiggles free hand. I quilted this motif in lots of other areas in this quilt. I decided to include the neutral squares into the background swirl motif. Interestingly, once I made the decision, I felt like I had scored! I decided that since I felt that way, my decision was on the mark! I'll be quilting this border for a long time. Quilting the curvy swirl background is faster than quilting pebbles; but, not by much!

Close up view of the lines and the squiggles
My plan is to quilt a background every day that I'm not working. I'm doubtful that I will finish quilting this project this month. Quilting that background takes some time!

I hadn't planned to share this post until I had at least quilted one quarter of the border. Yesterday, Rebecca announced that this would be the last time to link up with Longarm Learning. I decided to participate one more week with her link up. 

I've enjoyed participating and reading the links. I've picked up some longarm tips that crossover to my domestic machine quilting. Rebecca posted some other link ups and I plan to check those because I have found this link up to help me make progress on projects. Being part of a community that shares tips and resources is so helpful!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

A Bag Of Flannel Scraps--Starting with Four Fat Quarters

The last "collection" of fabric
The fourth pile of Martha's flannel scraps contained four flannel coordinating fat quarters and at least three 2 1/5 inch strips. There were a couple chunks of green fabric. Of course, there was the usual one to two inch range of strips and a couple two inch squares. 

It took some time for me to be inspired about how to approach the fabrics. Then, the printed fabric spoke to me. It told me to make bear paw blocks. Two of the prints were bears and the third print was a bear paw block! I looked online and found a 14 inch bear paw quilt block pattern. The larger the block pieces are, the better chance I have of accurately sewing the pieces together!

Following the pattern directions, I cut the cream fat quarter into 2 1/2 inch strips. I cut the green print fabric into 4 1/2 inch squares. Next, I cut the brown print into 2 1/2 inch strips. I decided to use sashing that contrasted to the background fabric as that was a way to incorporate those 2 1/2 inch strips.

Four completed blocks
I stitched two blocks. I liked how they looked so I cut and stitched two more blocks. I have picked up more background fabric and more "claw" fabric to stitch the remaining blocks. I did look on line at flannel fabrics; but, I'd much rather see the fabric in person before I buy it! I did pick up some flannel fabrics at the guild sale last August. I have purchased some cream flannel to make more backgrounds. 

Perhaps, Martha bought this fabric to make what she called a "curly" quilt. I looked on line and found this source for a free rag quilt pattern. I can remember her sitting in her comfy chair cutting the seam allowances so the quilts would ravel and "curl" after she washed and dried the quilts.

The leftover bits
While I stitched, I thought about stitching sections for the string border with the leftover strips. I decided that I would wait until I finished the bear paw blocks before staring the string strips. I have enough fat quarters to cut squares for nine blocks. Perhaps, twelve blocks would be a better sized top. Time will tell.

The great news is I started with a lot of flannel scraps. The scraps were housed in a two gallon ziplock bag and an overflowing linen case. After stitching three panels and four blocks, the remaining scraps easily fit in a gallon zip lock bag! I made progress!

I pulled the panels and the blocks and I laid them all out on the couch.  Once I quilt the other three tops, I'll work again on this top.

I'm linking to Oh Scrap/Quilting is More Fun Than Housework

What Martha's scraps produced
Regarding Covid:
Worldwide: 37M confirmed cases; 1.07M deaths
United States: 7.73M confirmed cases; 214K deaths
Oregon: 36,538  confirmed cases; 600 deaths
Covid is on the rise again. In the UK, 14,000 cases are being reported daily. In the U.S., 39 states are experiencing an increase in cases. The president has recovered from having COVID. He has resumed his campaign activities. A second relief plan remains under negotiation. In Oregon, 434 cases were reported on Friday. 

Regarding the protests: Wednesday, protestors turned their message from police violence and racial injustice to evictions. 
  
Regarding the fires:
Oregon officials are relaxing some requirements for handling ash and debris containing asbestos to speed work in removing debris from homes and buildings destroyed by wildfires. The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission on Friday also authorized the temporary stockpiling of asbestos-containing debris before being taken to landfills. Property owners can only take advantage of the rule changes if they hire licensed asbestos abatement contractors. 


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Unity--Border Six, Seven and Eight Completed--Post 14

Border Six completed
Wow--I've written a lot of posts regarding this project since I began it last March! The Riverside fire which burned less than a mile from us and which had officials placing us on a level two (be ready to go) evacuation level, interrupted progress on this project. 

The reason I took a break was because while packing the "important stuff," I included this project! While I was waiting to hear that firefighters had the blaze under control, I worked on other projects which I posted about here and here. I am thankful for my quilting hobby to keep my mind and fingers occupied during COVID social distancing.

Border Seven completed

After we were cleared from the evacuation list, after we had unloaded, and after we had put away our important stuff, I selected this project. I had quilted about a quarter of the sixth border. It took me a few days to get back into the rhythm of working on it again. I berated myself for taking so long to finish. I lamented about the imperfections. I struggled with ideas on how to quilt the next border. In short, I wasn't getting back into this project!

It took stitching at an online retreat to change my attitude. I don't know whether it was hearing people laugh or the anticipation of an activity or seeing friends I haven't seen since last February; but, after the first day of retreat, I started enjoying working on this project.

I estimate it took me about a work week to complete border six which is composed of two inch neutral squares. Quilting pebbles takes a lot of time. I sure like the texture that quilting pebbles creates. I tackled border number seven. This flying geese border is at the top and bottom of the quilt. I knew early on that I was quilting half circles in the triangles with the squiggles or as some readers have suggested sun rays. 

Borders 5, 6, 7 and 8
These half circles are in a lot of sections of this project. I like repeating designs because repetition gives cohesiveness to the project. Quilting the quarter inch lines on either side of the triangles added more repetition. There are also a lot of quarter inch lines in the project! I had thought that I would quilt a vine meander in that space; but, I decided to save the meander for the backgrounds of the last full border.

Knowing that the inch wide border number eight would be next, I decided to quilt it after I had finished half of the geese border. Truly, I'm wearying of quilting circles! I thought that having the other half of border seven to quilt next was better than quilting another 38 circles and pebbles. 

I'm glad that I decided to quilt half of those borders because having that break from pebbles was great! What remains to quilt is one full border and one half border. I've a plan for the half border. I have a plan for the full border too. I envision writing a couple more posts regarding this project. I am excited that I'm nearing the finish!

I'll be linking up with longarm learning.