Archive for January, 2014

Remembering Bob and Nancy Murdock

January 21, 2014
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Nancy Murdock in 2004.

The quilts in this post were gifted to me for various birthdays or Christmas.

I met Nancy Murdock in the late 1980s through a mutual friend. All 3 of us worked at Social Security Headquarters. We started meeting for lunch once a week and working on needlework projects. For reasons I don’t remember I stopped joining them. Over time others joined the group and I rejoined. Nancy named the group “Sew and Tell”. My male co-workers called it “Stitch and Bitch”. Eventually we stopped meeting at work because of difficulty coordinating our schedules. As people retired, we needed some way to meet away from work. We started meeting once a month at Seminole Sampler (closed as of 1/18/2014).

Barbara's Birthday Butterfly, 2004

Barbara’s Birthday Butterfly, 2004
Made by Nancy Murdock

One of the major events at our meeting each month is gathering around the table to eat. Nancy’s husband, Bob, always made deviled eggs for us. They were our favorite food each month. For his 80th birthday Beth made a small piece with the number 80 on it and used deviled eggs making the numbers. I wish I could find a picture of it. It was perfect! Beth is so inventive.

Aurora Borealis 2002 Made by Nancy Murdock

Aurora Borealis 2002
Made by Nancy Murdock

I owe a lot of my stash to Nancy. Every year our guild does a shopping trip to Lancaster county. Nancy and I went together for several years and encouraged each other into excessive stash enhancement. At Sauders, she would commandeer one of the large carts the staff use at the cutting tables to hold the bolts that need to go back to the shelves for us to pile our bolts on. While standing in line to be cut, we often shopped from other people’s piles. Too much fun, as Eleanor Burns says.

Nancy was the first one I ever knew who went on a “fabric diet”, only allowed to buy borders, binding and backing. I belong to the Stashbusters group on Yahoo! where many members do the same fabric diet.

End of Summer Garden, 2009 Made by Nancy Murdock

End of Summer Garden, 2009
Made by Nancy Murdock

In 1999 a group of us from guild decided to do a mystery quilt. The pattern called for a light, medium, and dark of one color and some other stuff. Nancy showed up with the most boring set of fabric I’d ever seen. Definitely not Nancy choices. She thought it over and decided to dispense with the pattern requirements and just went with multi-color prints that read light, medium and dark. It was beautiful. Much more interesting than the boring fabrics she started with. And, pretty as my fabrics were, her quilt was much more appealing.

Nancy was an art quilter and a painter. She was never afraid to experiment with a technique. She often worked with fabric that she hand-dyed. I have several pieces of her hand-dyed fabric in my stash.

Nightflower 2002-2004 Hand painted by Nancy Murdock

Nightflower 2002-2004
Hand painted by Nancy Murdock

Nancy was a few years younger than my mother. Once while talking to Mom about something she asked, “Why are you hanging around with someone that old.” When I told Nancy what she said, Nancy laughed so hard I was afraid she’d fall down and hurt herself.

A few years back, probably longer ago than I realize, Nancy and Bob moved away to be near their son who, in Nancy’s word, “will take care of us in our gaga years.” Bob died 12/27/2013. Eleven days later Nancy died on 1/7/2014.

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

January 21, 2014

For the last several years on holidays, my friend Linda and I have a tradition of getting together for a sewing day in the classroom of her quilt shop. This year we sewed for 2 days, Dec 31 and Jan 1.

I always take more projects than I can work on just so I don’t run out. The one project I had promised to work on required more effort than I felt up to first thing in the morning. I decided to start with some mindless sewing. “Mindless” meaning everything was ready to go and I didn’t have to make decisions – just sew. It was the 2012 Saturday Sampler from Linda’s shop. I had to sew the corners onto the 12 blocks. Everything was going along swimmingly until I realized that I’d sewn the 4th corner on eight of the blocks with no bobbin thread. Bummer! After I finished sewing the corners, we arranged the blocks and I sewed them together.

The 12 blocks assembled.

2012 Saturday Sampler assembled.

The border on the shop sample was a Jinny Beyer border print and looked just fine. When we put it up on the wall next to my quilt, it just didn’t look quite right. I didn’t get a picture of that. I came up with an alternate idea but it required more of this fabric which no longer existed in the store:

Starry fabric

That small amount is all I had. The only hint on the selvedge was “rfabrics.com”. What company was it? Luck was with me. Later I was pressing a fabric for a different project and noticed that the selvedge said “www.andoverfabrics.com”. Yeah! A place to start looking. I discovered that it was a fabric from The Very Collection and I found someone who had some for sale. Now I have 2 yards to play with. That’s for another day.

Now it was time to suck it up and work on the borders for Colette’s quilt. It had stalled because I needed just the right shade of fuchsia/hot pink for a flange. That was harder to find. I had 3 candidates (again, didn’t think to take a picture). We decided on one and I got busy.

On the design wall with the borders pinned next to the quilt.

A closeup of the borders.

A closeup of the borders.

There are 3 pices to the border: the white strip, the pink flange and the black outer border. I had just a little more fabric than I needed but not enough to make another mistake. While cutting the black borders, I cut one too narrow, so there is no more black. The last time I cut borders for a big quilt, they came out too short – twice! I was paranoid about doing that on this one since I didn’t have enough fabric to recover from something like that. So, this one went in the box for another day when I was ready to tackle that.

The third project I worked on was my triplets from a class taught by Norma Campbell. One set of 9 half-yards yields 3 baby Trip around the World quilts. I chose animal prints which were lots of fun. I thought everything was in the box but I was missing the flange fabric that both Linda and I remember selecting at a prior get-together. I went home  and searched the night of the 31st but the fabric I though was the one turned out to not be it. So, I went out into the shop to see if there was anything left (the store was going out of business) that would work. I found this fabric which worked very well:

Kind of ugly and hard on the eyes.

Kind of ugly and hard on the eyes.

Here’s what it looks like with the other border fabrics.

Auditioning the borders.

Auditioning the borders.

That was a good 2 days work. I was raring to go for a third day (I’m sure I could have convinced Linda to go for it) but I had to go back to work on Thursday, Jan 2. On Jan 3, my brother was diagnosed with incurable but “manageble” (for a while), stage 4 cancer. Between the 2, I lost my momentum and didn’t sew at all for 2 weeks.

Sunday, Jan 19, was Sew and Tell day so I needed to figure out something to work on. Monday was Martin Luther King Day which is a federal holiday and that meant no work so Linda and I planned to sew again.

Again, I decided to start with mindless sewing for Sunday. I want to get my scraps down to a manageable amount so I decided that I will sew 6″ string blocks at our meetings this year. I sew the strips to patty paper – the small sheets of parchment paper they use to separate deli meat and cheeses. I got 13 blocks made. That’s pretty good for 4 hours considering the amount of time we spend looking at what everyone else is doing, chatting, eating and this month, remembering a former member and her husband who both recently died.

The mindless sewing on Sunday set me up for the harder tasks on Monday. The first thing I did was finish sewing the binding onto the front of Easy Street. All that was left was connecting the ends. I ran out of time at the December meeting and left the last little bit for another time.

Then I tackled sewing the borders on Colette’s quilt, shown above. Linda was confused when she wrote that I did the binding. I talked about making the binding but decided to leave that for another time. I need to get this quilt to the quilter so I can finish it for our guild show at the beginning of May.

After that I put the borders on the Triplet 1 quilt.

Top complete!

Top complete!

I made some rookie mistakes while sewing yesterday (I’m NOT a rookie). Apparently I’ve successfully overcome my perfectionist tendencies because I didn’t feel the need to fix them. As someone said to me years ago, “You’re not making a $15,000 quilt”. If anyone looks closely enough to find these small issues, they deserve to find something.