Sunday, April 30, 2023

April Recap and May Goals


Blooming daffodils
Even though our spring has contained plenty of snow and hail showers, our daffodils managed to bring color to our yard. I think of them as bits of sunshine! 

The last few days of the month were glorious with summer temperatures. Today, we are back to gray skies with the threat of rain.

My April goals were:

✔1. Keep up making and inserting EPP blocks into the temperature quilt. ---I did correct the incorrectly sewn block.

✔2. Prepare lecture notes for my EPP "Beyond the Flower Garden" class.

✒3. Finish piecing the project for the book, "River of the Gods--Genius, Courage and Betrayal--in Locating the Source of the Nile" by Candice Millard. Between the scraps for this project and the bulk of the Lone Star quilt on the quilting table, my flat surfaces are covered! I need to make enough progress to reclaim my cutting table and ironing board!---I've pieced 19 of the 24 blocks. Watch for a post about my journey in a few weeks.
Working on the last 12 blocks of the maze quilt

✒4. Stitch a Christmas stocking for the youngestgranddaughter. I have a pattern in mind. Next steps will be to locate it and select fabrics. I plan to shop my stash first!---I found the pattern and selected the fabrics which were all from stash. Next will be to prewash the fabrics, copy the foundations and sew. I do want to do something special with the centers of the paper pieced blocks.

✔5.Continue playing with the embroidery module/software for my machine. I need to document my experience last month. 

Four of the six rows of the maze
✔6. Begin filling in the areas with free motion quilting that I've outlined in the Lone Star. My body still rebels against quilting so I must be mindful about taking breaks and completing a little rather than a lot. If I do too much, I set off pain to my head, neck, back, hip and arms! 

✔7. Document my recent trip to London in Wednesday posts. I'll likely start with a post about making my first meal after my return. Scrap Cooking, London Adventure Day 1, London Adventure Day 2, London Adventure Day 3. --I'll be posting about the trip for a couple more months. I've enjoyed reliving our experience writing the posts!

Stocking project

While I didn't make as much progress as I had planned, I still moved the projects forward which is all good! 

On the health front, I continue to make progress. I'm in the normal range for turning my head side to side. I am working to get a little more range of motion looking to the left so that turning my head in either direction is more balanced. Rarely do I cause neck spasms when turning or stretching now.

Lone star quilting progress
I've been incorporating different back exercises for the pain I get under my shoulder blades when I machine sew. I can't tell if the exercises are helping. . .yet. For the last two weeks, I've been able to raise my arms in an arc and bring my palms together. (It is a motion similar to jumping jack arms.) I hadn't been able to do that motion since the day after the car accident. So, while my shoulder is still sore, it is improving too.

I still get the numbness in my fingers when I've chopped or stirred too long. Machine quilting also is a culprit for numbness. I don't know if I can improve more to lessen or delete the numbness or not. Knee wise, the cortisone shot helped. I still need to ice it several times a day and I take ibuprofen for the swelling/pain twice a day. When I try to skip either, my pain level rises as does the swelling!

The best news of the month was that last week, I passed my American Red Cross Lifeguard, Lifeguard Instructor and Lifeguard Instructor Trainer physical exams. Being the role of the victim, didn't cause me additional pain to my shoulder or neck. At the end of the class, I was exhausted and sore; but, my spirit soared to still be able to complete the skills as well as the swim and the time tests. 

When I returned home and after hanging my wet suit and towel to dry, I did ice on my neck, back and knees. (I have several ice packs.) I did do some gentle stretching. The following morning, while I was tender in places, I wasn't so sore that I couldn't move easily. 

EPP preparations

Five inch square project
I look forward to swimming now that I can turn my head to the side without pain to side breath while swimming freestyle. I loved being able to move my left arm through the water without shoulder pain. 

All the acupuncture, physical therapy, massage and chiropractic sessions have been a big part of the healing process. I've also spent time and effort doing the homework. . .exercises, etc.

For May, my goals are:

1. Keep up with the temperature blocks. 

2. Continue piecing my maze quilt top.

3. Continue to free motion an area of my Lone Star quilt.

4. Sew a Christmas stocking for my youngest granddaughter.

5. Play with the embroidery unit on my machine.

6. Teach a Zoom class on EPP.

7. Teach an in person class on EPP.

8. Play with the five inch squares I won from Preeti.

9. Document more days of our March London trip.

I'm linking up to Cynthia and Oh Scrap/Quilting is More Fun Than Housework because my maze project is all scraps!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

A London Adventure--Day 3

On our third day in London, Keira treated us when she baked her homemade biscuits for breakfast. The biscuits were delicious. I neglected to take any photos! 

Riding on the top of a double decker bus

After breakfast, we were off to visit Windsor Castle. First, we took a bus. This time not only was it a double decker; but, we were the first ones on the bus so the front seat was available for Miss K. She loved the view! We rode to the train station where we purchased a hot drink and met up with Mihaela before boarding our train. Mihaela is from Romania and is a dear friend of Nicole's. She is also one of a small group of super honorary aunties to Miss Ada.

Taking photos on the train

While we waited for the journey to begin, Miss Ada explored and Miss Keira documented the process!

Writing in the journal

The trip took about an hour. Miss K used the travel time to catch up with her trip journal.

Headed toward the guard station 

After we disembarked from the train, we walked through town and up a hill to the castle. We arrived in time to watch the changing of the guard. I had taken a small busy bag with me on the train. When we went through security to enter the castle, my bag was searched. I couldn't figure out why. The person searching couldn't tell me. . .and then it hit me. . .those Karen Kay Buckley scissors were in my busy bag. The security person recognized the scissors and said it was the first time she had encountered them in her job. She commented about how special that brand of scissors was. Sheesh!!!!

My scissors stayed at security because there can be no pointy or sharp objects at the castle. I received a claim check. At the end of the visit, we reclaimed them. For the remainder of the trip, I took no scissors with me!!! 

Watching the ceremonial changing of the guard
Of course, there were a lot of other people who had the same plan of watching the guard change! We still had a prime view of the out going guards as they marched directly past us.

Marching guards 
Miss K commented over and over about their uniforms. She wanted to know if they wore uniforms or if they were wearing costumes. She wondered how they could see! It is a sight to watch and we enjoyed all of it!

Touring the interior

We did enter the cathedral; but, you can't take photographs there. We paid our respects to Queen Elizabeth and to her husband, Phillip. We weren't able to see the queen's dolls and doll houses because the line to that part of the castle was too long. Miss K could have waited out the line; but, not Miss A!

Checking the view over the wall

There are a number of volunteers who help visitors find the lifts (elevators) and who answer questions. Miss K asked questions of one of these volunteers and then asked if the volunteer would pose for a photograph. Miss K wanted to know if the volunteer liked her job and if people were nice to her!

Meeting a local volunteer

While Miss K enjoyed the grounds, her favorite part of the tour was listening to another volunteer who talked about the 1992 fire in the castle. 

Leaving Windsor

It was nice to see a little blue sky while we were visiting the castle. We had a late lunch in town before catching a train to return to London. Again, it was a full but fun day!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Winner Winner. . .Thank you Preeti--post 1

The package
Last week, I received an e-mail from Preeti of Sew Preeti Sew that I was one winner to receive forty, five inch leftover squares from her Bourbon Street Bash quilt. I loved the bright batiks and the almost look of a solid of these Island Batik fabrics. Bourbon Street Bash is one happy quilt!

When she notified me, I did a happy dance that was long enough that I actually had a few minutes of exercise credited on my Apple Watch! Then her prize package arrived in the mail. I got to touch and pet each and every square. There was a lot of drooling involved!!!

Stack of five inch squares and the note
These luscious fabrics will be available in the stores in May. Each square has a friend so there is a pair of each fabric.

Seventeen fabrics are from the Celebrate line by Kathy Engle. Preeti added three fabrics from her stash of Island Batiks Foundation line that went with the Celebrate fabrics. 

Gertie, who has been relatively silent since being rear ended in my car accident last September, has been whispering in my ear. She has pointed out a background fabric from my stash. She has even nudged me toward some design or pattern options. (Gertie is my inner squirrel!)

I'm thinking about the options. I can't wait to start!!! Thank you so much, Preeti!

The luscious five inch squares
On another note, Preeti will be co-hosting her third Positively sew along. It will begin at the end of May. Bernie, from Needle and Foot, is her co-host. Finished quilts are Mercyful Quilts which benefit the Palliative care unit of Mercy Hospital.

Preeti provides the pattern free of charge. You need about 4 1/2 yards of background fabric, thirty 2.5 inch strips of focus fabrics, 4 yards of backing fabric and a half yard of binding fabric. It is recommended to choose gender neutral colors so avoid a color like pink. It is also recommended to avoid dense quilting so it is a cuddly quilt.

The Sew Along ends September 3. You will e-mail Preeti that you've finished your quilt. She will e-mail you the address where you send it. 

Are you in? I am! It will be the first time that I've participated. Although, I might not finish by the time the Sew Along ends, I will finish it. (I still have some rough days from that car accident.)

If you have more questions, check out Preeti's blog post. I'm linking to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework as these are scraps ready to be made into a project!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

A London Adventure--Day 2

Ada walking to school
Day two on our London trip was overcast with a threat of imminent rain. The first task was to walk Miss Ada to her nursery school. At one year old, she is small; but, mighty. She walked most of the way. . .it did take 15 minutes instead of five!

Keira riding the bus
We headed to the bus stop to catch a bus to the Imperial War Museum (IWM). Miss Keira was excited as she hoped we would ride a double decker bus. Well, it wasn't a double decker; but, it was a bus!

In front of the IWM
The IWM is set up so you get to see the war through the eyes of the people who lived it. Many of the exhibits are interactive and there are volunteers/docents who can answer questions. While many of the exhibits were the same as when we visited a number of years ago, the whole museum was set up differently.

Miss K listening to the docent's description
My favorite area of the museum is the lobby. Miss K focused on every word that the docent spoke about the Spitfire, V-1 bomb, remains of a car after a bomb went off and a Nery Gun.

We spent several hours in the museum. Miss K wanted to see the holocaust exhibit which was floor number two. The staff recommended children be 12-14 to see the exhibit. Since we hadn't checked with Miss K's parents. we didn't visit the floor. 

Hot chocolate break
Miss K wasn't pleased with our decision. She was surprised when all of us (my husband, our daughter and me) said because we weren't her parents, we couldn't make that decision as there needed to be discussion between her mom and dad. Next, there needed to be a discussion between her and her parents.  

The first chance she had to call home, she described the situation saying it was history and she should be able to see and learn about history. While her parents didn't come out and say they were glad we hadn't seen the exhibit. They did say, she needed to be older and that the adults were in the right. 

Her favorite exhibit was the Morrison Shelter. This was a stay at home shelter used during World War II. It was basically a table that had a bed underneath it with screening on three sides.

The crumbs of a Cinnabon, cheese stick, salami mini
sandwich and mozzarella, tomato, pesto focaccia 
sandwich from Gail's

We walked toward Westminster Abbey; but, it started to rain. We were about to become drenched. Nicole pulled us into Gail's Bakery for sustenance and a break out of the rain. The hot drink and share dishes were terrific. We all mooned over the mozzarella, tomato pesto focaccia sandwich. Keira made it her mission to look for a Gail's the remainder of the trip.

Posing for a photo
By the time that we had finished our snack, the weather had cleared and we resumed 

our walk. Along the way, we happened by an iconic red phone booth. These are fewer than they were a few years ago. With most people carrying a cell phone, most of the booths are without an actual phone. Keira got a kick out of the phone and the booth!

Outside Westminster Abbey
We arrived at Westminster Abbey; but, it was closed to the public. On Fridays, school choirs practice to perform at the Sunday service. We did visit the gift shop.

Outside Big Ben
We walked along and we didn't say more than that we were walking back to the flat. When she saw Big Ben come in to view, she asked to have her photo taken so she had proof she was there!

Water taxi transportation
Then it was on to catch a water taxi for a ride back towards the flat. The water taxi runs along the Thames River. Many commuters ride it; but so do a lot of tourists! Miss K wanted to know what the pods were on the Ferris wheel. We explained she was looking at the London Eye! 

View of the "Walkie-Talkie"
We disembarked from the water taxi at London Bridge. She liked the view. I motioned toward the "Walkie-Talkie" building and pointed out the windows on the top floor. I told her that was where the Sky Garden was. We had tickets to go there on another day of our trip.

HMS Belfast
As we walked to the flat we stopped for a number of photo ops! 

Hay's Galleria
We made a stop at Hay's Galleria.

Black Egg sculpture
There was a pose at the Black Egg sculpture.

Tower Bridge
There were several poses with Tower Bridge in the background. She liked the pose with her Auntie best. 

The size of her fish
Back at the apartment, we decided that for dinner, we'd have fish and chips from the local shop. Nicole's partner and Miss K picked up the order. She was surprised to see actual potatoes being prepped for the chips! She couldn't believe the size of her fish. This was considered medium. She told Nicole's partner that she was glad he didn't order a large!

One order of chips
We had three orders of chips. We ate two; but, the third order we ate on another night! Keira ate ALL of her fish and at least her share of chips too! It was a full and extra fun day!

Sunday, April 16, 2023

The Embroidery Plan That Wasn't

Some of the supplies for the project
At the end of February, I had this idea that I would make some kitchen towels to take with me when we visited our London daughter at the end of March. Kitchen towels make great hostess gifts.

At first, I was going to decorate the towels using the pattern that I used for my Dad's wife's birthday gift. Over the years, I've made a lot of this type of towel. I went to the project box. What was on top was a package of three linen dish towels.

Test front
These towels have been hanging around in the project box for too many years. I decided I would decorate these. This type of towel would look better with a simple embroidery motif. 

I happened upon an embroidery video on the Oklahoma Embroidery Supply and Design (OESD) site that shared how to get perfect embroidery results embroidering on a tea towel. I liked the basil motif that was featured in the video. I could think of at least another use for the collection so I purchased the set for about $30.

Test back
Next, I purchased two types of stabilizer. One was a sticky back wash a way fusible and the other was a fusible to back the cotton fabric that stays in after the embroidery.  

Stitching the first thread color
I purchased a thirty yard bolt of the Shape Flex stabilizer. Before COVID, I believe this product was about five dollars a yard. It was $7.49 a yard. I had a 50% off coupon and because I purchased a bolt, I received another 10% discount from Joann Fabric and Craft store.
Second stitching--Out of the hoop
tear away stabilizer removed

I spent $130 on the fusible products. I had the sticky backed wash away fusible on hand.

I pulled a piece of white on white cotton fabric from my large chunk of scraps that was large enough to back all the motifs in the collection to put into a wall hanging project. I chose colors of 40 weight Floriani polyester thread and stitched a test sample. 

On the sample, I used a variety of threads in the bobbin: a 50 weight cotton, a 40 weight polyester and a 100 weight polyester. I knew for the tea towel, I would need to use the same color thread for the bobbin. For the wall hanging, I could use a lighter weight thread in the bobbin.

I'm glad I tested. Even though I used the same stabilizer combination that was shown in the video, my final embroidery rippled after removing all the stabilizer.  One of the thread colors didn't show well.

Regarding the test of bobbin threads, the 100 weight polyester thread made for the least thread build up. The motif, however, contained so many stitches that it was stiff like a badge. It wasn't at all what I had envisioned on the towel. 

Finished second stitch out
after removing the stabilizer 
and before pressing
I tried again. This time I added Shape Flex, a fusible stabilizer made by Pellon, to the back of the cotton fabric. I soaked the fusible backed fabric in Perfect Sew, a liquid stabilizer. This product is similar to Terial Magic. I let the fabric dry. I ironed out the wrinkles. The fabric was stiff like cardstock. 

I hooped a piece of wash away stabilizer. I floated two pieces of tear away under the hoop. I floated the fabric on the hooped stabilizer and I used a fusible wash away topper. The topper helps the embroidery stitches to not sink into the fabric. I changed one of the thread colors. I stitched out the design a second time.

The thread color change was a good choice. The second stitching looked great until I removed the stabilizer. I still got some rippling but, it was less than the first time. The motif was still too stiff to place on the tea towel.

In the end, I took no tea towels as hostess gifts. I'm back to the drawing board with the tea towels. I have options. I could hand embroider a design on the towels. I could search for a line drawing type of embroidery to purchase. I could develop my own design from a design in one of my books. 

Instead of pursuing the tea towel embroidery, I'm going to work on stitching out the other nine motifs in the herbal collection that I purchased. These will work into a wall hanging. I might sash the blocks with a lot of green scraps. 

This was goal number four on my April list. I'm linking to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework because my white backing fabric is leftover from a previous project.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

A London Adventure--Day 1

Leaving Portland

Our youngest granddaughter turned one last month. As I shared last year, I spent almost three months getting to know Miss Ada as well as enjoying every day with our youngest daughter. 

My husband, Bob, is not a traveller.  Many people in a small space causes him distress and airplane travel is unpleasant on his ears. Even with noise canceling headphones, the humm from the engines plays havoc with his hearing. His hearing is compromised on a good day.

He agreed to go and he suggested we take our oldest granddaughter with us. My husband loves his grandchildren. We asked Miss Keira's parents about the trip and they said yes. 

Sharing the contents of her backpack
We invited Miss Keira saying that being a decade old deserved a celebration and would she like to travel to London with us during her Spring Vacation? Keira was excited. Her younger sister definitely was not excited about her sister's trip. Perhaps when she has decade status, we will book another trip. She turns ten in November.

We left Wednesday evening March 22 and returned Friday evening March 3l. Keira had Thursday and Friday off for school conferences so that was why we could leave mid week. We asked her to make a list of where she wanted to go. In about ten minutes, she had more destinations written than I thought we could fit into the trip!

K's parents did provide us with a notorized form which stated we had permission for K to travel with us. During our research, we learned we would need to keep this form handy and one of us would be the designated person to walk through security and customs.

Arrived Heathrow and waiting for a bag
Interestingly, not once during the trip were we asked to produce the documentation though! It made sense to have it as there are cases of non custodial parents taking a child away from the custodial parent.

Leaving Portland, our flight was delayed because the plane was an hour late in arriving. Crew then spent an hour cleaning the plane so we boarded two hours late. We were supposed to leave at 7:30; but, we didn't leave until 9:30pm. 

I thought that K would want to sit by the window; but, she didn't. I took the window seat and I was asleep shortly after take off. It had been a long day. Miss K tapped my shoulder because the flight attendants were serving a snack. She didn't want me to miss the snack! What a blessing she is!

Walking home from nursery school
We did have dinner and we all were able to sleep a little during the flight. I probably slept five hours of the nine hour flight. She might have slept four. She watched a movie, she played games on her tablet and she commented that she never thought that classical music could lull her to sleep!

Nicole's partner picked us up from the airport. He had a black coffee for Bob, a hot chocolate for Keira and a latte with oat milk for me. K was impressed. We loaded our bags into the car and headed for Central London. It was about an hour drive. We drove by Buckingham Palace and had to wait for a motorcade to pass. We surmised it was Kate going to a gown fitting for the coronation. It could have been any royal or it could have been the prime minister. The windows of the sedans were all dark so we had no clue.

Peri Peri Chicken from Nando's
Seeing a royal was the first item on K's list though. It was a rainy blustery day in London and because we were two hours late in arriving, our driver dropped me at my nail appointment. Later he even came to pick me up. I had a manicure/pedicure at West Lane Studio

While I was at the salon, K and Bob picked up Ada from nursery school and got acquainted with the flat. Because it was raining and my knee was sore, Nicole's partner picked me up from the salon which was nice. 

For dinner we ordered in from Nando's. It was a nice way to complete a long day. I can't remember if first ate at a Nando's in France or if it was in Australia. Where ever it was, it is a place we try to find at least once when we are traveling. 

The chicken is good and the sides vary from country to country. In England, one of the sides was a wheat berry type salad that was delicious. 

Keira thought the chips (fries) were delicious. She decided that she would rate the English chips during her stay. We thought that was her way of letting us know she planned to order chips as often as was possible!!

Stay tuned next Wednesday, I plan to post about what we did on day two of our London Adventure! Oh and if you missed my scrap cooking post that was inspired by a professional chef, click here.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Lone Star Update (post 6)

Larger scallop design
Happy Easter! Today, my dad would have celebrated his 88th birthday. He said he could remember Easter falling on his birthday once. He died December 24, 2016, I still miss our daily seven pm calls.

Continuous curve in the diamonds
I 've been noodling the next round of quilting design on the Lone Star quilt. Physically, I wasn't able to hold the ruler with enough strength to quilt a smooth line because the length of the curved line was too long.

In March, I drew some small scallops; but, that wasn't the "right" design. I thought about the space for a few more days. I kept coming back to the scallop design. I decided to try a larger scallop and that worked. 

Goal number six on my April list was to begin filling in the spaces that I've outlined. When I wrote my goals, I thought that I'd start in the section closest to the inner star legs and work my way out to the outside of background.

When I sat down to quilt, the diamonds in the lone star called me to quilt them. I had envisioned a simple continuous curve in each diamond. I quilted three diamonds. I didn't like the look. I removed the stitching. I penciled some designs. No doodle felt right. When that happens, it means I need to think some more.

While I'm thinking, I moved to another section of the project to quilt. I've found that if I continue to stew over what to quilt, I get no where but frustrated!

Four inch arc template/ruler
Because I was stumped on the diamonds, I decided to start in the middle of the background with the petal shapes. I've a number of quilting rulers that I don't use. With this project, I have challenged myself to incorporate as many rulers as possible. If I don't use them, they won't be hanging around the studio.

I started with laying the half circle templates against the quilted petal. The quilted line that I could create using those templates didn't excite me. When I auditioned the four inch arc template/ruler by Westalee Designs, I liked the shape of line I could create. I liked how it fit my hand. 

First of eight petal shapes stitched
Before I started quilting, I chalked lines into one of the shapes. When I viewed the chalk lines, I knew that I would be happy with the quilting result. 

I have drawn the shapes on paper and doodled. I have used a clear plastic over the quilt (with the edges marked with painter's tape) and doodled. I have learned that I can get into a design that I like quicker if I use a chalk pencil to draw on the quilt.

Before my car accident, I would hold a quilting ruler and quilt in any direction. Post accident, I'm not as coordinated. I found I had better control and better results if I held the template with my left hand and quilted in a forward direction. 

View of a quarter of the motif
Then, I needed to deal with the stop and starts because my curves looked better if I didn't try to complete them in a continuous line. Also, I didn't like the thread build up on the petal shape. It probably took me an afternoon to determine what pleased me the most.

All eight sections of the petals are quilted with those curved lines. I am pleased with the over all look. I might quilt straight lines in the background after I fill the current areas. The quilting plan will develop. 

I'm going to work on my maze project while I think about what I may tackle next on this project. As long as I make progress every month, I'm pleased.