Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The fun stuff

What is this mess, er mass? of worms? spaghetti? No, it's selvages. Selvages? Yes, you know the edge of fabric where the manufacturer's name is and sometimes other information like the designer or color samples from the printing process. Selvages are often cut of and discarded. I've been saving them for some time -- since I saw a quilt made entirely of selvages at a Quilt National. I often didn't remember to save them but I do have a goodly pile, you see.

I have been sewing them into squares as you see here. They will be arranged in a sort of basket weave design. I'm having a wonderful time. This is a project I've been planning since early June when I bought Karen Griska's book about sewing with selvages. The thing is I'm not JUST making a selvage quilt. No! It's more complex than that.

Earlier in the year I purchased Sharon Pederson's book about her double sided quilt technique and I'm combining the two. A lot of brilliant quilters speak at our guild and some have books. Only occasionally does something hit me as "for me". Both these did and I quickly saw the possibilities. This will be a reversible quilt with an arrangement of 6 inch squares on one side, mostly a turquoise fabric but also some fascinating European prints that have come into my hands in the last few months via swaps.

There will be further pictures in the future because at this point I don't imagine anyone could get very turned on by the mess of selvages and the few blocks showing only one side.

Here's what I love about this: I'm recycling stuff that would be thrown away otherwise which is what most sewers do with selvages. I lay one strip on the raw edge and sew very close to the edge, as I sew I am quilting the block for there is batting between. When it's put together there'll be no more quilting to do. These are straight lines, very easy to sew. The lines of quilting will be random with the various widths of the selvage and that's both fine and far easier than worrying about even quilting lines. I really enjoy the words on the selvage, the names of people, of patterns, of manufacturers and I enjoy the randomness of their pattern and their colors. Finally I'm enjoying the anticipation of arranging the final squares so I have a brightly colored pattern on one side of the quilt and this subdued white/with print side. Everything about this pleases me. It's simplicity as contrasted with the difficulty and time consuming orange/navy star in the previous post. I need variety in what I do and this is a nice kind of difference. I'm having fun. More about it later.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Just the Beginning

It's been a while since I've had time to think a lot about the quilt projects that are started and that I hope to complete [maybe] this summer. This paper pieced star was started early in June and is progressing in baby steps so far. It looks a bit lumpy because the diamonds are only pinned, I can't sew them together at this point, there's more to add -- a lot more. In a way I'm flying blind. I found a picture in one of the QNMs that I was about to give away, it was called "The 900 piece Quilt". Each diamond has 17 pieces so, without doing any math obviously there's many more diamonds or parts of diamonds to be made.

The reason I say I'm "flying blind" is I photo copied the page that had the paper piecing diagrams but didn't photocopy the page with a picture of the finished quilt -- and I left the magazine in the photocopy machine -- a mistake I have made with distressing frequency. Often I go back and retrieve it the next day but in this case the unhelpful attendant did not even think there was a lost-and-found drawer. So the picture, in color, is gone and all I have is the instructions, which, of course, is the really necessary part.

I know that the light/bright part was NOT the center, but when I pinned it together today I decided to try it and I liked the effect. I remain doubtful about my color choices so reversing dark/light may be a mistake. At this point it's okay to contemplate because it's only pinned. I think I like it. I'll keep thinking about it as I make the next set of diamonds. Each diamond takes at least an hour so this is actually likely to be longer term than summer.

Because I haven't had time for much quilting for over six weeks, the fabric, mostly fat quarters but some bigger cuts, has been piling up. So I sorted them before I started sewing today and and thus had a brief opportunity to review at least part of my stash. The only conclusion is I must live to 110 at least in order to do this stash justice. But what a nice problem to have! I was then inspired to start a quilt I've been thinking about. More about that tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Daughters of Wisdom - film

I wish everyone interested in Tibet and the Himalaya region had access to the Rubin Museum here in NYC. It is a wonderful venue, and so calm and relaxing too. I went last night to see aa new documentary movie called DAUGHTERS OF WISDOM, by a young woman film maker, Bari Pearlman, which has won prizes in three film festivals already. She ad a cinematographer quietly slipped into remote part of of Kham, an eastern Tibet region where a lama, based here in NY state, but originally from there, has started a nunnery which has about 300 students/nuns now. The film is about the nun's daily life and about some of the reasons they chose a religious life instead of a traditional [very hard] life. They are young women, they actually DO work very hard building and keeping up their residence but they do it with great joy. Their elan is wonderful to see; even when they speak of three-year meditation retreats with the traditional boxes in which they spend their time. The translation, in captions, was fluent and seemed more natural than often in such documentaries. The film will be available in DVD at their website, www.Dauhtersofwisdom.com in a couple of weeks.

Bari was at the screening and answered many questions very articulately. The film was lovely, well put together but, of course shot with small handheld cameras and subject to the limitations thereof. Interestingly, she said that young men of Tibet seem more interested in the social and commercial life and that it may be women who prolong the monastic traditions.

I was also very impressed in 15 minutes before the screening by a docent who was talking about the Tara figures, some in the collection but also giving broad background of the concepts. Very fluent, very articulate, this woman spoke so easily and amiably it was a joy to listen to her. It became a very interesting evening.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Sometimes I just got-ta shop. This was one of those days. It's so hot and summer's got a long way to go so I decided that even a tee-shirt is not cool enough to sleep in. I wanted a wisp of a top for sleeping and it's sale time in the department stores. So off I went to Daffy's which always has lots of racks of stuff on sale. Finding a couple of PJs quickly was easy enough.

But Daffys is a place where I have to allow myself a couple of hours because I HAVE to look through all the racks. They have tons of stuff for very young women but sometimes amid the age INappropriate tops and shoes and so on, I have, in the past found treasures for a tiny price. I have yet to meet any man who can comprehend the impulse to paw through item after item, stopping at the colors that that I like. In fact, many women also cannot bear this kind of shopping. It's a treasure hunt, really. I think it is infinitely more satisfying than, say buying an instant win lottery ticket and, in a matter of a few seconds scraping off the coating on the answer only to discover one has just wasted a dollar or five. If I don't find anything, even though I've enjoyed fingering knits, cottons, silks and synthetics and looking at a variety of styles, then I haven't wasted any money and have had both a tactile experience and the same satisfaction of the hunt that a fisherman has when he stands all day by the lake, maybe pulls in a few too small to keep and comes home empty handed, with no sense of having wasted his time.

It's something to do with my enjoyment of textiles -- I really enjoy seeing what's been done with different fabrics and patterns, perhaps other sewers can understand. So, did I find anything? Well, a $12 pale blue sweatshirt, totally classic design. Something I'll pull on over and over again in the cooler months ... that is if I don't act on thought I had on the way home. I could turn it into a quilted patchwork jacket. I had a conversation with a woman wearing such a jacket at a quilt show; she explained exactly how she cut of the ribbed cuffs and bottom , slit the front and sides and undersleeves, sewed on stripes of fabric and put it back together. I've been thinking about that ever since. Hmmm ... I suppose I'll keep on thinking about it until the weather gets cooler and I decide how much in love with this sweatshirt I am. There are possibilities ...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer - hot, lazy

It's summer! It's hot, it's humid, a breeze is a touch of an angel's wing. I escaped the city for a weekend 100 miles north somewhat between the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountians -- still hot, still humid [but not as bad as NYC] but a slow, placid, sitting still, feeling the breeze kind of weekend. Saturday morning, after a tour of the farmer's market, and pause for good coffee and enjoying friendly people who introduced themselves to "new faces", a half mile walk through forest, swamp and taller than my head reeds to the Saugerties Lighthouse, a beauifully restored the wide, beautiful Hudson, shaded by an abundantly fruited mulberry tree with a wonderful breeze from the river. Dogs and children were playing in the river. A beautiful spot for a contemplative half hour.

The rest of weekend, quietly watching birds at feeders and enjoying a riotous bed of zinnias, nice food, and classic movies on TV. Mostly a lot of sitting still and the very great pleasure of moonlight and a very good breeze that made sleeping far pleasanter than in the city.

A two hour return bus ride, thanks to returning traffic, took nearly four hours ... as well. Being away and catching up with a long time friend was very good indeed

Thursday, July 17, 2008

So far from the concrete canyons of Manhattan

For the friends who said, "show picures of your vacation."I took several but Leslie had a brand new, first digital camera and was learning the settings. She took about 300 and some are quite good. I have prints of some but the ones below are mine, which owe more to the light and the scenery than to my skill. First a bucolic, peaceful view of the Grand Tetons from Summit point. This is picture postcard land. The Tetns with Jackson Lake below.

The picture below is partly for myself today. It's full hot summer here, they're laying new tar on Broadway [I've just come in from a drugstore errand] and it even smells very hot, very near hellish, out there. The water below was just beneath a waterfall that was entirely snow melt. Even 100 feet away it was like stepping into a walk in refrigerator. The rushing power of the water was also wonderful.

Below is a meadow path beneath the mountains that lead into and out of forested areas and finally to a calm beatiful, incredibly reflective lake. The trail's delight was that it went in and out of different ecologies every half mile or so; in a way it was perhaps the most perfect walking path I've been on -- some 3-1/2 miles long, mild uphills but not strenuous. It would be wonderful to live a few miles from it and walk there say once a week or so.

For most Amerians there is only The Grand Canyon and this isn't it. But it IS the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone; and grand it is. It is 20 miles long with at least two spectacular waterfalls. It was painted by Thomas Moran ater a sketch he made from a point to which we walked. No, it's not the gasp-inspiring GRAND Canyon but ... pretty grand.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Alpine House, Jackson, WY

Who wouldn't be delighted to be served this for breakfast -- with an orchid for sheer beauty? When I found the only available space in Yellowstone was for old and very basic cabin, I began reading guide books and booked three nights for the segment of the vacation that came after Yellowstone, in The Alpine House B-and-B in Jackson, WY, which included spa facilities and a "gourmet" breakfast. Gourmet is thrown around at random but in this case it was true. Each morning we had a different choice of sweet or savory plate. The above is a sweet. Below is a savory, which was always eggs with some delicious accompaniment. Also available were the only flaky Danish pastries I've seen in a long time, fresh fruit and various cereals as well as excellent coffee.

We were actually very happy with our cabin in Yellowstone although it was short on beauty. It was clean and had hot water, screened windows and weather that cooled during the night so that I got up and closed the windows at some point and pulled up the covers.

The Alpine House was very attractive without any kitchiness. It had lovely flowers in the small garden, a hot tub and a sauna and spa facilities we did not take advantage of since we were hot on the trail of the elusive moose. There was a lovely ginger scented lotion in the bathroom as well as shampoo and conditioner. There were complimentary bikes which Rachel used one morning and a nice little library. What more could one want?

Well, I do have to say that Jackson also has an excellent Japanese restaurant quite near the Alpine House, called Fish. Our meal there was totally delicious and beautifully served, although we wished the dishes had come just a big further apart so we could yum over what we had just eaten before plunging into the next beautiful dish. Who would-a thunk it out there in cowboy land?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Big Animals

We wanted to see big animals! We especially wanted to see moose. Bison are big and we saw a great many, big and baby, there are some 5,000 in Yellowstone so they are easy to see; in fact, one morning a bison was grazing peacefully 20 feet from where our car was parked. Elks were also plentiful, and a couple of types of deer. To my great surprise Leslie spotted a gray wolf trotting purposefully along the edge of a forested area as we walked through a meadow early one morning. We saw black bear grazing on something bushy. And we saw a nesting eagle, funny looking white pelicans, later on sandhill cranes, and a bunch of small animals we had not seen wild before -- a beaver, and a couple of badgers. But moose eluded us although we went out before breakfast but had no luck.

So we were about to settle for a drink at the Mangey Moose Saloon in Teton Village when we finally found a moose 90% hidden in a patch of willow trees munching noisily but nearly invisibly. However -- this was, mind you, our last day in the parks -- just down the road a youngish looking moose was standing in a stream peacefully allowing half a dozen people, and then we three also, to take his picture. My picture if on my film camera so I can't post it here. This is the animal part of my vacation story. I've gone on in a more philosophical vein in my other blog. I've just tried to add a link to it, and it doesn't work. Go to "view profile" and then to bottom of screne and click Big 7-0 blog. Sorry it's such a pain. I'll figure this all out eventually.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Big Wonderful West

Once in a while I have an idea that is so good I could disjoint both shoulers from patting myself on the back. Such was the idea of a week in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons Park with my two daughters. None of us had ever been there. We spent every day feeling wonderful about what we were seeing and doing. Beautiful scenery, all kinds of wonderful animals from the tiny prarrie dog near our Yellowstone cabin that we saw the first night there to the bison grazing on the other side of the drive the last morning. We even saw a gray wolf lopeing along the edge of a meadow, and I had been sure we would see no wolves. Plus black bears, elk, deer, badgers, beavers and more

In the Grand Tetons the line from our guidebook was totally true: not the tallest or biggest mountains in the US but the most perfectly scenic. Sometimes in pictures they are so perfect they look like painted backdrops. As in the photo above. Leslie has had a moose fetish for years and we were getting discouraged the when we hadn't seen one our last full day -- until we were headed to a bar called The Mangey Moose and actually saw one, and then a second along a road we hadn't taken before.

For Rachel there was a wish for 4th of July fireworks that she hadn't seen for some years -- we had a wonderful display in Jackson where we stayed. Far bigger display than I expected!

We all are early risers and good walkers so we had wonderful early morning walks and missed the crowds -- most of whom don't walk much at all. We also had evening walks -- and in both cases had to use bug repellent lavishly. A trade off but the plus was worth it. More another day, I'm a little too tired to be more coherent tonight.