We may still be a week away from the meteorological beginning of autumn, but we both know that Summer 2017 has essentially ended. Sometimes the end of summer leaves me with an immediate sense of nostalgia, a feeling that I didn’t make the most of the season, and a reluctance to accept that fall is coming.
I don’t feel that way this year, though. I mean, sure, I never made that peach-blueberry pie recipe I had my eye on, I certainly didn’t get a tan (although I got sunburned), and I didn’t see a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre (not for lack of trying—grrrrr…).
But I did go on a wonderful vacation in June to North Carolina’s Outer Banks with family; getting to dig my toes in wet sand for a few days in a row does my heart good. When we were planning the trip I actually thought about trying to bring a hand-quilting project with me to “keep me occupied.” I’m sure it comes as no surprise to hear that I kept myself occupied just fine while relaxing on the beach, by the pool or on the screened-in porch, sometimes with an adult beverage and often with a book at hand.
I did a good amount of reading this summer, and I managed to keep my quilt mojo working, neither of which have always been the case in summers past. I attribute both to setting some goals for myself, as well as to counting audiobooks toward my reading goal.
For quilting, at the beginning of the year I set a goal to finish an average of one project per month, whether UFOs that were started prior to 2017 or new projects. We’re eight-and-a-half months into the year and I have six finishes to show for it, so I’m a little off my pace but I think I can still meet my goal.
As for reading, I’m part of a loosely organized reading group on Facebook. For the summer, the challenge is simple:
- Set a personal goal of how many books you want to read between May 15 and September 15. You are encouraged to read books of any genre or length that you’ve never read before (to avoid the group turning into the Harry Potter/Pride and Prejudice Re-Read Club).
- Read books.
- Post your progress in the group if you want to; if not, it’s no big deal. You’re only accountable to yourself.
- If you meet your goal, feel free to get yourself a little reward. (For many people, their reward is a new book.)
And that’s it. This year I doubled my goal from previous summers from five to 10 books, and not only did I meet it but I exceeded it by one book read and an audiobook still in progress. Before the summer started I pored through my local library’s catalog of streaming audiobooks and created a wish list of almost 100 titles. Enough were available at any given time for me to be able to choose something interesting and borrow it via my cell phone while sitting at my sewing machine. Oh, this modern age we live in!
Combining sewing with listening to audiobooks had a synergistic effect: having an audiobook in progress made me more inclined to sew, and making time to sew gave me more time to listen to some good stories.
Here’s a rundown of what I made this summer and what I was listening to when I made it.
Sweet Home Colorado: In early June I bound this Delectable Mountains quilt, making it my 5th finish for the year. I started piecing it about 12 years ago and longarm quilted it in May. I didn’t really listen to any books while I was finishing this up, but it counts toward summer sewing.
This Land Is Your Land pillow: I started this in mid-June, before our vacation, and finished it the 4th of July, my 6th finish for 2017. It’s based on Homeland by Candy Hargrove, a large throw that was in McCall’s Quilting June/July 2017.
Audiobooks: Antigone by Jean Anouilh, a play performed by L.A. Theatre Works that I want to listen to again, and the beginning of The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan, which is a lighthearted novel about a young heir to the British throne who falls in love while at Oxford with an American student on her junior year abroad. I ended up borrowing the hardcover so I could finish it on vacation, and it made for good poolside reading.
Geese in My Kitchen: I worked in earnest on piecing this top from July to mid-August, although I’d started planning and cutting it in April.
Audiobooks: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris, a collection of essays read by the author; Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang, a memoir read by the author (note that this rated-R-for-language memoir almost certainly has very little in common with the family sitcom based on it); Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, read by the author, which was great for a “you can do it!” pick-me-up as I neared completion of the quilt top.
Project to be named later: in mid-August I pieced a queen-sized quilt top from someone else’s design for an upcoming issue of McCall’s Quilting. I can’t show you the whole thing, only a few in-progress shots, but it’s a very cool and easy-to-piece design that I know a lot of people will want to make.
Audiobook: Kitchens of the Great Midwest, a novel by J. Ryan Stradal, read by Amy Ryan and Michael Stuhlbarg. I really enjoyed this, particularly the narration; note that it also has R-rated language in places, but it is also warm and funny, and a little heartbreaking in the way it examines how children take care of their parents as much as parents take care of their children.
Wild Ducklings: this is a 29″ x 29″ color option I made based on a pattern by Nancy Mahoney from the current issue of McCall’s Quilting, and I’m in the process of using it for free-motion quilting practice before I move on to more challenging projects.
Audiobook: Summer by Edith Wharton, still in progress.
I spent most of my sewing time over the summer working on piecing and more lighthearted stories and memoirs. Now that it’s fall, I’m ready to do a lot of quilting and dig into some more serious reading material—can you believe I’ve never read To Kill a Mockingbird? I know, neither can I, and it’s time to rectify that.
Before that, though, I’m spending some time today celebrating National Sew a Jelly Roll Day. I have two jelly rolls of Sweetwater’s upcoming Project Red collection for Moda and I have plans for them … stay tuned!
Have a great week,