Tuesday, May 19, 2015

June is MAKING me crackers!

So the June 2015 block went up....earlier.  & since day one it has been making me, well crackers.  The image(s) seem to have some underlying flub that causes (some of) them to be interpreted as code & this does not translate well with Blogger & whatever you use to view this blog.  I have reloaded & resized & I am so sick of it I could spit & I still cannot get rid of the "bad spot".  So I am starting again.  Nothing has changed, deadlines are deadlines (I know several people have already started anyhow) & at least the directions were always in a separate link. 

Here goes:

I took some extra time getting the next Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group block posted & then ended up taking more (sorry!).  There were some problems that I don't really want to go into again (they remain in the original post if you are curious) but the upshot is I need to know if (any remaining part of) the problem is with my directions or if this is going to happen not matter what soooooo this time we are using direction already out there, tied & true for both JUNE & AUGUST.  Yes, I did write the August block directions but that was a long time ago & no one seemed to have a problem at the time so I am calling them tried & true as well.

For June we are making the tradition cracker lock which can be found here:  http://quilting.about.com/od/quiltpatternsprojects/ss/cracker-quilt-pattern.htm

We are using the provided measurements & assembly techniques.  I am NOT providing my own how-I-made-it directions; please use the directions in the  Cracker Quilt Pattern by Janet Wickell on the quilting.about site & do a read thru & then come back here.  For our swap we are working in light versus dark & you should use two (2) fabrics.

  1. One of our fabrics should be either a solid light or a solid dark.  In my original post I said read-as-solid & if you have already started & are confident you know what "read as solid" means you can still do so BUT given the tenor of messages I have gotten re: the June block, there are still people who aren't sure their fabric actually reads-as-solid.  My advice is don't use it; instead stick with solid-solid.

    So one fabric is either a solid dark OR a solid light.  I mean true darks & lights not something that is darker or lighter than whatever it is paired with. 
  2. The second fabric should be either lighter than the dark you used OR darker than the liht you sued & it can be anything at all.  Floral? Yep. Large scale floral? No problem.  Large scale floral overlaying a psychedelic plaid? as long as it is either darker or lighter than your light or dark solid, it is just fine.
In my example, I used a bleached muslin & a dark, small scale floral.   It would not have mattered, but I used the floral to outline the cracker & the bleached muslin for the center; you can use either of your two fabrics in either place.  So, two fabrics one dark/one light, one solid/one anything you want to use up (maybe even another solid).

& that is pretty much it.  Blocks are due in-house the last Saturday in June, June 27, 2015.  think about making a "practice block" as the direction are very specific & accuracy (in cutting, in sewing) matters for this block. 

We swap in sets of five (5) blocks. If you make more than two sets, please be sure to vary your fabrics; please do not send more than two identical sets of blocks.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Blogger's Quilt Festival Spring 2015: Blue & yellow 9-patch tiles

What can I say about this quilt that isn't more than a little bit embarrassing?  I guess I will just jump in:  In February 2009 the Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group...did not exist.  It was still a mailing list in those days.  & our swap block that month was 6.5" unfinished/6" finished equal-parts 9-patch of any kind limited to (mostly) blue & yellow fabrics.

What surprised me most was the variety of 9-patches we got!  These are nine of them, set on point (first framed in a plain bleached muslin border to make them a uniform size) & then sashed in blue & yellow strips I had kicking around.  What could be easier, right?

Unfortunately this top was finished sometime in ?2010? & then sat until almost the end of April 2015 before it was basted & quilted.  It would have sat longer but in a fit of I-don't-know-what-I-was-thinking, I entered it in a quilt show.  Not yet quilted.  Because I am like that.  I basted it not having the faintest idea how I was going to quilt it (I mean I knew HOW, I was going to use my Bernina & cotton thread but the pattern was up in the air).

After it was basted & rolled (I more or less always knew I would begin corner to corner), I settled on a square flags sort of thing.  I could tell you it was inspired by Buddhist prayer flags (which it could be) but really, I was also cleaning some old house stuff files & found Corian samples from when we redid our kitchen.  I started playing with them.  Truly, playing.  Mostly I was making clicking noises with them.  The quilt just happened to be on the table; yes, I have the world's shortest attention span. 
After it was all done, I recognized the Corian sample was the same square dimension as a single unit of the patch of the 9-patches:  2 inches more or less.  This is probably why the shape & size of those squares looked "right".  Also, they make a cool mahjong tile clicking sound.  But if anyone asks I am going with Buddhist prayer flags from now on.

I quilted it in a variegated very pale blue & white cotton thread.  The thread is so pale I was surprised how much the stitching does show in the pale blue border sashing scraps.  because I was quilting when I could find the time, it all got done rather piecemeal. Sooooo.  The corner to corner nature of things got twisted around as I lost my place & those Buddhist prayer flags are just blowing every which way.  

The quilt went to the every-two-years quilt show held by the Tree City Quilt Guild in Gainesville, FL & then came home a week ago Sunday.  It was hanging on the wall during bookclub earlier this week & M****** saw it for the first time & immediately recognized the blue sashing strip as scraps from a blue & white quilt currently on her couch.  This quilt was more collaborative than I even realized!

This quilt is 50" x 50" ; it is actually square!  It was made from all cotton fabrics as far as I know & 100% batting- of this I am certain.  It was quilted with a cotton thread which is probably a factor in why the stitching is very visible, even on the same shade of pale blue fabric.  I am entering it in the Home Machine Quilted category at the Blogger's Quilt Festival for Spring 2015. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What we are reading in 2015-2016

Last year we swung the schedule around a little bit.  We still meet the second Tuesday, nine months of the ear (no July, no August & no December), but we choose the next books the month before the last month before the two months we don't meet.  Easy, right?

Anyway, this is what's up:

October 2015: Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

November 2015: A Bell for Adano by John Hersey

January 2016: The Golden Books Family Treasury of Poetry selected etc. by Louis Untermeyer

February 2016: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

March 2016: The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

April 2016: Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

May 2016: Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith

June 2016: Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

September 2016: Consider the Fork: How Technology Transforms the Way We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson

We aim for a mix of classics/contemporary, fiction/non-fiction, long/short/in-between & I hope for a wildcard: a play, poetry, a graphic novel.  Not every year hits every note, but every year has variety which is the goal. 

We still have June & September of the current year to wrap up.  & I have updated the Goodreads Kitchen Table Book Club shelf to reflect everything we have read in the past -wow! that many!- years. 

Marybeth's bookshelf: kitchen-table-book-club

A Dirty Job
5 of 5 stars
tagged: kitchen-table-book-club
The Egyptologist
5 of 5 stars
tagged: kitchen-table-book-club
Pink Slip
5 of 5 stars
Maybe it was growing up in CT, the same time as the narrator, knowing Choo-choo & Railroad Salvage, remembering when AIDS wasn't even called AIDS yet, but I just fell into this book.
tagged: kitchen-table-book-club
The Eyre Affair
5 of 5 stars
tagged: kitchen-table-book-club


Friday, May 8, 2015

Garden stones in August

For our August 2015 swap block, the Facebook Quilt Block Swap group is having their first ever flashback block swap.  No worries, though, we are not making the exact same block as we did for June 2009.  That swap was all about using baby fabrics & this time we are using garden fabrics.  Yep, that's the only difference. 

The already written up directions can be found in the original link, but the highlights are you have a choice of making a set of five 9-patch snowballs, five 4-patch snowballs or five one-patch snowballs. The blocks, whichever one you choose, should be 9.5" unfinished/9" finished.  

If you elect to make the one patch snowballs, your single patch should be special.  It should have some piecing or embroidery or broderie perse or applique or something.  You cannot just take one big single 9.5" square of fabric, make the snowball folds at the corners & call yourself done.  This was true in June 2009 as well, which might be why only one person did this.  Because this is a garden themed block, your special feature should be garden themed.  A foundation-pieced flower perhaps.  let me repeat:  this special extra thing is ONLY an issue if you elect to make the one-patch snowball...

Most people made either the 9-patch or the 4-patch.  If you make the 9-patch, you will begin with nine 3.5" squares & four 1.5" squares to cover each corner of each of these 3.5" squares (thirty-six 1.5" squares).  If you make the 4-patch, you will begin with four 5" squares & four 2" squares to cover each corner of these 5" squares (sixteen 2" squares).  All of this is exactly the same as the block we made back then.

Now the differences:
  • this is a garden themed swap so one of the fabrics either the large squares (the snowball itself) or the smaller squares (the background) should be a floral. Or at least garden-y, so vegetable fabrics would also be acceptable.  Or trees.  Or just leaves, even.  Firetrucks on the other hand...no.  Unless they are covered in vines.  & if you find firetrucks covered in vines fabric. PLEASE post a picture to the group because I am writing this assuming it does not exist.  Wow! I got sidetracked there:  the short version is if your fabric has a visible garden element, it is OKay to use.
  • the second fabric can ALSO be a floral (or whatever-garden), just please not the exact same floral (or whatever-garden). It can also be any solid or read-as-solid or even just mostly one or more of the following "garden" colors:  blue, green or brown.  I am prepared to interpret blue, green or brown very very loosely but please do no use anything that is obviously not predominantly blue, green, or brown. 
  • please limit your block to TWO fabrics.  One fabric should always be the snowball & the other fabric should always be the background.  You can of course mix fabrics across blocks: the fabric that was the snowball in one block can be the back ground in another BUT within the same 9-patch or 4-patch just one background & just one snowball fabric PLEASE.
  • while you are making your blocks, please cut away the extra fabric underneath the corners.  After you have stitched & pressed each component of your block, you will notice you have THREE layers of fabric; if you stitch these together, you will have seams that are SIX layers of fabric thick.  It's too much!  Please cut away that extra corner fabric as you go.

  • once you are all done & your block is pressed, please double check that it does indeed measure 9.5" unfinished/9" finished (so you will be looking for a 9.5" by 9.5" square).

In my two examples, the fabrics sort of blend together  Sorry about that, it is not a requirement.  They can be super high contrast if that is what you want.  I was apparently in a smooooooth sort of mood the day I made these.  As we get closer, I will make more that are crazy-busy, I promise.

These blocks are due IN-HOUSE the last Saturday in August, August 29, 2015.  Blocks will be swapped the following weekend (which is Labor Day weekend so they will likely get in the mail later that week, not Monday).  As always we swap in sets of five: you send five, you get five back.  You can send as many sets of five as you wish but please do not send more than two sets of five (ten blocks total) that are exactly alike. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

June is for crackers

I have been taking some time getting the next Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group block up because we have been....experiencing some difficulties.  I wanted to take that time to go through the problems, see where I was going wrong, maybe identify a problem swapper or two (this is not a blame thing, just an information misfire that happens when particular features align...like when I say "low volume" when describing fabric to people for whom English is maybe a second language...or a third.  Yes, this was a thing).  I think I have plugged some of the larger holes, but it is going to be an ongoing process over the next few swaps. 

Which brings me to our June 2015 block, which is the traditional cracker block with some swap-specific features sort of sprinkled in.  First though, the directions.  They can be found here.  Yes, I do usually recreate even available directions just to have the pictures, but this time I am not going to.  I figured these directions have worked for slews of people before & lets just leave them as is.  So go ahead to the Cracker Quilt Pattern by Janet Wickell on the quilting.about site & do a read thru & then come back here.  Also, there have been a few complaints about my directions so I want to see if this helps.

You will have noticed this link has directions for a whole quilt top.  We will be swapping one component of one block.  In other words just this piece: 

You will need two fabrics for each of your blocks:
  • either a solid or read-as-solid DARK or a solid or read-as-solid LIGHT.  Interpretations of dark versus light & read-as-solid have varied over some of the swaps so I am going to make this suggestion.  If you cannot tell if your fabric is dark, it probably isn't.  Ditto light.  We want true darks (black, dark navy, dark green, dark brown, etc.) for the darks & true lights (white, cream, pale pastels, etc.) for the lights.  You only need one or the other so this really should not be hard to find.  As for the read-as-solid portion all I can suggest is it should be a blender in a uniform color & if that is still too vague (I accept it might be), maybe just use an actual solid.  Bleached muslin will fit the bill nicely, as would a black broadcloth. 

    As I said above, the term read-as-solid has been yet another tripper-upper so I wish I could give a more exact description.  The best I can come up with is a fabric that is patterned but very subtly with a minimum of contrast in color: both shade (light to dark, dark to light) & hue (blueness VS greenness, for example).  If you are looking at a fabric & are not sure if it does read-as-solid, please put it aside.
  • the second fabric is YOUR CHOICE with one guideline:  if your first fabric is a light, please do not use another light.  If you first fabric is a dark, please do not use another dark.  The rest is up to you.  Large bright cartoon characters? Fine.  Pastel florals? Also fine.  Another solid the opposite (light or dark) of your first fabric?  Still fine.  When your block is finished, the lines should be sharp & clear; this is easy to test for by putting on piece of the fabric against the other.  If the edges blur, those fabrics won't work together.
In my example I used a bleached muslin for my solid/read-as-solid light side & a densely patterned floral that is indisputably dark but not read-as-solid for the other side.  You will need enough fabric for one strip to make the on-point center (again, please see block directions in the link) & the two corner triangles that set it on point in one fabric & exactly the same + one more strip of the other.  You will notice I am carefully avoiding giving dimensions here; they are all in the link & they are VERY SPECIFIC. 

Bringing us to another problem we have been plagued with recently.  I usually let blocks that are within <1 1="" 9-patch="" a="" adding="" allowance="" also="" am="" amp="" another="" anyone="" as="" at="" been="" being="" block="" blocks="" but="" can="" cannot-sew-a-straight-line="" cause="" check="" cut="" cuts="" dark="" dimensions="" directed="" doubt="" each="" especially="" fabric="" for="" frequent="" full="" have="" href="http://www.metric-conversions.org/length/inches-to-millimeters-table.htm" i="" inches="" individual="" into="" is="" issue="" it="" last="" less="" light="" link="" look="" making="" matter="" nbsp="" no="" not="" of="" only="" or="" particular="" picture="" piece="" problem="" pun="" reads="" really="" reason="" recurring="" seam="" should="" size.="" size="" small="" smaller="" solid="" surprisingly="" swap="" swappers="" target="_blank" tell="" than="" that="" the="" there="" they="" this="" three="" time="" to="" too-deep="" too="" unfortunately="" unlike="" up="" urge="" was="" way="" were="" whatever="" when="" whether="" with="" wrong="" you="" your="">metric conversion chart
(you might need to change the INCREMENT field to 1/4) although I feel I should add NONE of the way-off measurements came from metric countries.  NONE of them.  I think the lesson here is that people who know they need to check their measurements are not having an issue, instead people who assume they do not need to are having the issue.  Measure twice, cut once was never more apt. 
These blocks are due in-house the last SAT in June (June 27th).  I will swap the following week-end (because of some delays with the post office) BUT your envelope must be postmarked before the deadline & if you have not received confirmation the envelope arrived by the deadline (SAT June 27th) you need to let me know it is en route.

As always we swap in sets of five, send five get five back (or send twenty-five & get twenty-five back).  If you do make more than two sets of five (or ten blocks), please mix up your fabrics when you get to the third set.  Because this is a not-frequent but not-rare I am going to restate this in a different way:  if you send more than two identical sets you are guaranteed to get some if not all of your own blocks back. 

UPDATE MON May 11, 2015:  it appears that Blogger had a few updates during my hiatus & this post appeared briefly when it should have & has been reappearing & disappearing (mostly depending on which device I used to upload the photo &/or how your device handles the out-of-date photo-format) ever since.  The problem is now resolved (I upgraded my Blogger photo-posting tool anyhow, & it all seems to be working) but this means some people will have less than the preferred two months minimum to work with the block.  Still, everyone should have more than one month & that should be plenty of time. The in-house due date remains that last SATURDAY in JUNE.