National Quilting Day

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Until today, I didn’t know there was a National Quilting Day.  Amazingly, considering I haven’t been working much at all, I actually worked on a quilt today. I must’ve sensed something in the air.

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I’m scrap piecing together a baby quilt for one of my team members. I’m not sure that the colors really look baby quilty, but she’s not a pastel person so I think she’ll like it.  And I’m having fun with the randomness as I build blocks and puzzle out combining the odd sizes.

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I need to decide soon if it’s going to be a square or a rectangle.

Well, this changes things

Sometimes the world makes a sudden sharp turn and becomes very bewildering.

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Around here we are all feeling a little like our puppy Maxx right now.  Things are all upset.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I work for a school district. Work is apparently no longer the correct word. The governor of Washington has ordered all schools to be closed, and now we are awaiting guidance from admin about what that means for our students and ourselves.

My particular school is very online. The students all have Chromebooks, and are very used to using Google Classroom on a daily basis. However, that doesn’t mean everybody has access from home, and students who need special services to be academically successful also can’t just open their Chromebook and go for it.

A lot of students also rely on the schools for meals, but I’m happy to report that my district has a plan to continue availability of food. They’re going to run the buses on elementary school routes and at each bus stop people can wait and be handed their food.  They’re also going to have a couple of schools open where students can stop and pick up food.

While what I can only assume are fairly frantic administrative meetings are happening to decide how to deliver education as well as food if (when) this stretches out, the rest of us are at home waiting to hear the plan.  My teaching team and I have been having video meetings and brainstorming possibilities.

And as of now, I’m also self-isolating with two middle school sons, while my husband still has to go into work.

I want to say that I know we are very, very lucky. The state is going to continue to pay my salary while the schools are closed, and so far my husband’s company is not talking about layoffs. Compared to other people, we are going to be just fine. The hair salon my niece works at closed with just 20 minutes notice yesterday, my sister’s second job just laid her off, and with the new notice to close all restaurants and bars and allow only take out, a lot more people are going to suddenly lose their jobs.  So we are grateful for what we have and ready to offer help where we can to others in our community who are less fortunate.

My sister and I visited my mom today.  She lives in one of those active retirement community buildings, where they are highly discouraging visitors. Locked doors and signs everywhere levels of discouraging. So our visit looked like this:

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We’ve told her that we will get her a bucket on a rope so we can keep her supplies of coffee creamer and chocolate topped up.

Luckily, during this sudden downtime, crafters can always come up with things to do.

I’ve started sewing again for the first time in a long time.  Baby quilts must be made!

And then there is the high volume soup making.

And, as long as the sunshine holds out, garden improvements. My new raised bed arrived recently so we put it together today.  It is steel and designed to develop a rusty orange patina very soon.

I also have supplies to make a lot more panels like this wire one that will go up on posts around the yard for vines to grown along.  One down, six more to go.

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And then there is the new puppy.  She is thrilled to have us around all the time!

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So, keeping busy isn’t a real concern. Keeping healthy is, but we’ve got plenty of soap and social distancing.  I know the boys are going to get bored a lot faster than I will, but one likes to play basketball in the street, and the other one sees his friends just as much in video games as he ever did in person, and I’m letting them ride their bikes all around as long as they avoid people. Eventually they’ll get desperate enough to read books and remember they used to like those.

And, as I’ve explained to them, I am certified in this state to assign them homework!

Hoping you all stay safe and healthy out there.

Ewe and I

I spent the day yesterday at a wonderful new-to-me yarn shop in Chehalis with my fiber friends – Ewe and I.

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It is both yarn shop and cafe, so we used it as our landing spot and drank many cups of tea while we split off in small groups to check out other nearby businesses.

I highly recommend the Sisters quilting store as well.  Maybe wear sunglasses – the fabric is bright!

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So much Kaffe Fassett.  The choices were mind boggling.

Lunch back at the yarn store was as lovely as the fiber choices.

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Definitely a town to return to.  It is already on the calendar.

Summer blues

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A sudden urge to sew came over me and I actually made enough progress to have something to post about.

There hasn’t been a lot of time spent on the machine this summer, spending more time camping, in class, or hanging out in the hammock reading, but in the last couple of days I’ve picked up my modified crossroads blocks again and got the top finished.

The original block puts the emphasis on the center 8 point star.  I changed it up to make smaller X blocks in single shades which makes that part stand out more.  If I’d stuck to a single X color or made the bars of the X random shades the stars would have stood out more, but as it is, this is an X quilt more than a crossroads block.

 

 

I finished up all the 16 patch and X blocks a few weeks ago. I dug out my Hera marker which made sewing the corner lines go faster, although it was still the slowest part of the block.  Chain piecing sped things up again.

ECEF7A9F-06D9-4FFB-B218-5FE365F7F202I spent a lot of time trying to get the mix of blocks so that the different blues were scattered and the low volume blocks didn’t have any duplicate fabrics touching, and had the blues and yellows spaced out.  Inevitably I missed some with the background fabrics and didn’t notice until seams were sewn.  Eventually I had to let go and just not care.  I’m the only one who is really going to see those duplicating squares when it is all done, so I am reminding myself not to care.  With mixed success, but I will keep trying to not obsess.

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Laying it all out is also when I discovered that apparently I can’t count.  Back to the sewing machine to make four more 16 patches.

 

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There are eight blues and 50-60 low volume fabrics in this.  It made only a small dent in my 2 1/2 inch squares, so I will be searching for the next scrappy pattern to use them with.

The top is 56” x 80”, so a smallish twin or a largish throw.  I’ll piece together a backing from more of the stash fabric one of these days.  I lost my usual places to pin quilt sandwiches as both my sister and I have changed schools so I no longer have the library tables or her classroom floor.  I think there will be spaces in my new building, but they don’t know me yet so it seems a little weird to go in this summer and commandeer floor space.  I will let them get to know and love me before I start crawling around with handfuls of pins and tape.

Linked to My Quilt Infatuation and Oh Scrap

 

Design wall, without design

After two years in this house, I finally got around to putting up a design wall.

I have been using the floor for the most part, but after laying out my blocks for the latest quilt top, I got a lot of pushback from my family who apparently felt that completely blocking access to the kitchen was “unreasonable.”  Not a quilter among them to sympathize with my need to make sure that the Xs in different shades of blue were distributed attractively across the top.

So at long last I got a 4’ x 8’sheet of foam board and put up a design way.

It isn’t a complicated process.  I cut off a foot as our ceilings are barely 8’ up, and with the trim I needed more wiggle room.

I had the flannel still from the last house’s design wall; I just sewed the two lengths together and then spent a minimal amount of time ironing it.  A lint roller cleared off all the threads from previous quilts.

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It was a quick task to trim and tape the flannel around the board.  I kept the writing side to the back so the words wouldn’t show through – the other side of this board is a reflective silver.  I pulled it taut, but didn’t worry about perfection.

What I should have worried about was the wall it was going to be hung on.  I forgot about the wall socket.  It is our only nearby electrical outlet for the room’s main lamps, so it couldn’t just be covered up.

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The solution involved a box knife and more duct tape.  Not attractive, but it worked.  I may get white tape and recover it in a more aesthetically minded way in the future.  Or, I may just not think about it ever again.

A few finishing nails to hang it on the wall and now I have a design wall.  A little narrow, but it will keep the path to the kitchen clear – most of the time anyway.

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On vacation

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Summer vacation finally got here, and I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to arrange camping trips.  We recently bought a little tent trailer, and I’m discovering that it is very difficult to just spontaneously go camping on a weekend.  People apparently start booking the reservable camp spots months in advance, way before we realized we were going to be able to get a trailer.  My husband, sadly, doesn’t get summer off, so if we want him to come along, it has to be on the weekend.

But I’ve cobbled together a few reservations for various locations over the next couple months.  We may have to switch spots every night – and we will know better for next year to plan way in advance.  But we will be camping!

We did a couple of test runs in nearby parks to make sure we knew how everything works.  We’ve learned how to turn on the propane heater, attach the side mounted camp stove, and made lists of things we need to organize the very minimal storage.

And saw some pretty beautiful scenery.

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Our dog, Theo, who is rather a neurotic and barky mess, has proven better at camping than we thought he’d be.  He hates strangers and cars and bikes, but it turns out he is a big fan of woods and nature walks, and he’s been willing to keep a little quieter so other campers aren’t bothered.

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So I think this camping experiment is going to be a success once we work out all the kinks.

When not endlessly searching through the Washington and Oregon state park reservation systems, I’ve been sitting down at the sewing machine and am making more X and 16 patch blocks.  Nights in the forests get chilly – we are going to need a bunch of quilts!  It is motivating to get back to the fabric.

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(P.S.  That is Mt. St. Helens in the mountain photos above, our local volcano.  The visitors’ center at Johnston Ridge is wonderful – we’ve been going for years to see the recovery proceeding since the eruption. But it turns out no dogs are allowed in the national monument. Yet another thing we’ve newly learned about camping – check ahead where and when pets are allowed.)

Crossroads block

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I haven’t started a quilt top for awhile – or done much else with fabric – so it was time to get going on one.  I landed on this tutorial from the Bee in My Bonnet blog.

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I used a lot of my darker scraps on my Growing Up Odd quilt, so for this one I sorted out low volume fabric for the background and dug out some blue solids to scatter in.

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This is what the block is supposed to look like.

After I made the first block though, I realized that I’d have to do a lot of planning if I wanted each X to be from one blue rather than mixed.  I went back and forth on whether I cared, tried a different arrangement, finally decided I did care, and dismantled the completed block.

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So now the plan is to make the X blocks separately from the 16 patches and assemble it from there.