Tuesday, June 29, 2010

At Last, a Picture

This smallish, 44X38, one block quilt in Marian Rosenthal style was a spur of the moment impulse. I had the fabric [border is the original] for maybe three years having purchased it when a shop in the NYC garment district was going out of business and thinking at the time that it might be a stack-n-whack style quilt. It actually shows up more interestingly in the photo than it does when I'm closer to it. I've called it "Flower arranging". It's lying on my dining table, which is small and which it just covers. I am currently still enchanted with Marian Rosenthal's one-patch, kaleidoscope possibilities with various sorts of prints.

It's now quilted and bordered and even named so I'll get on with other in-process quilts of which there are only two. And I've just decided the bigger project I want to do next, something I thought I couldn't do until I had a design wall. Now I have a design wall and reading the directions more carefully than before, I realize I could have done it anyway. But this is the right time. More anon, it's from a book that was a gift to me in 1999 so it's not "up to the minute". Not a matter of concern to me anyway.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Plain and Simple

I found Sue Bender's Plain and Simple: A Journey to the Amish, at a used book store. The book was published in 1998 but can still be found on Amazon. The author seems to have been a very typical uncertain, harried, ambitious, dissatisfied 40-something. She fell in love with traditional Amish quilts at a show and managed, with some difficulty, to be invited to live with an Amish family in Iowa one summer. They were quite strict people but good and admirable. She struggled to understand them. She went home and seemed to be stumped about what she had experienced. A few years later, that experience having grown a part of her, she managed to be invited to stay with another family, this time in Ohio. This family were dedicate Amish but not so strict. She found a spirit of fun and lightness in this family she had not found in the previous stay. And the women were much stronger personalities -- she was far more comfortable with this family.

She left and wrote the book. Her descriptions of the families is well done and interesting. At the end she tells us a list of truths she has learned. I am not at all sure she learned them, they seem too facile and she has given us almost no real insight into her own life and the impact except that she learned to make bread. She has a husband and at least one child [grown] but never reveals enough to make us care at all about her search or her "discoveries." She offers no understanding of Amish quilting, in fact, is not very interested except for purchasing cottons in "Amish" colors and playing with squares that she doesn't even know how to sew together. I very much mistrust people who use exotic others to learn "truths" but who seem unable to be self-reflective.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


On the spur of the moment I made this wall quilt/pillow cover for Ruth. A couple of months ago she sent me a panel of prints with Buddha and Tara and dakini figures. I did not like the colors very much and thought the style of the designer was irritatingly saccharine. But I don't look a gift horse in the mouth and decided I could find a use for the panel. About a month ago I made two such wall hangings/pillow covers with Green Taras, and I forgot to take photos before I sent them to the people they were made for.

[I am calling them wall hanging/pillow covers because I completed the small quilt, with embellishments and a light muslin backing, then I added another backing, sewing it on pillowcase style making a folded kind of open pleat in the middle of the back so that a pillow form can be inserted if the owner wishes. If not it can be used as wall hanging .. or whatever.]

Since I owed Ruth a letter I decided yesterday to use another figure -- I think this is a dakini although it might be another Tara. There is no "Pink Tara" as far as I know. So I got busy and made it. Doing these is a very nice way to use some of my sizable collection of metallic fabrics. I also use some of my small collection of beads. Ruth is a wonderful spunky woman who I met in 1996 on my second trip to Tibet. We acclimated a couple of days in 6,000 foot high Kathmandu but the arrival the third day in 12,500 foot high Lhasa hit her with a bad altitude sickness. We had oxygen pillows in our room and she gulped oxygen but the headaches, chills, and other symptoms lasted for three days. I felt fine but very sorry for the woman I had just met. She never whined or moaned or wished she hadn't come -- it was her trip of a lifetime. She recovered and enjoyed the rest of the trip. We stayed in touch. When her husband on many, many years died she picked up and moved from L.A. to a small town in New Mexico where she knew only one person. She has made a place for herself, made many friends and has a contented life. She was a big inspiration to me when I decided to move out of NYC and come to Cape Cod. Obviously we maintain our interest in things Buddhist.

Monday, June 21, 2010

On wall and floor

Three quilts in progress, two shown here. The third may be the first done and I'll take a photo then. None are intriguing me as much as they did when the idea came to mind. Ah, well ... The above is the start of a paper pieced lap quilt that I have been wanting to make since I purchased a book from a vendor at a quilt show. The empty corners will be filled with a flower paper pieced pattern which means 16 more to make -- well, I've made two of them already. And then there will be a border which will mean another eight paper pieced blocks. So 22 more to sew. They are not very complicated but paper piece is slow. This will not reappear on this blog for quite some time, maybe the end of summer.
These crazy squares, sort of log cabin blocks gone all wonky and random, are laid out on an uncut piece of cherry color fabric that has a small tone-on-tone random dot. I've thought about different stripping colors, a dark purple,a medium yellow but they didn't appeal to me and the cherry color [which isn't very true in this photo] does. So I'll cut it into strips soon and possibly I'll make a crazy pieced border also - I certainly have plenty more strips of fabric in my scrap bag. Some of these squares were made by a couple of others in a "virtual quilting bee" online group project. It's nice to have their variety of fabrics too, although I supplied some to each of them. The crazy strips are pieced onto a backing square which keeps the square relatively square despite some bias cuts pieces.

My work ethic tells me to get something finished soon. So it's going to be first of all the un-pictured piece which has reached the quilting stage already and may be finished by the end of the week. And then the crazy squares. I have in mind a full size quilt that's been on my to-do list for probably 15 years and I thought i couldn't do it until I had a design wall. I've got it so not more excuse for not doing it -- a contemporary-traditional design. More anon.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June Journal Quilt

My June Journal quilt is titled "Crows in the Salt Marsh". I made a leap that I have not made before. Not finding any tree fabric in my stash that suited me and not wanting to shop for anything new, I chose a fabric that looked like a marsh in winter -- all beige and brown. The I got out the markers, medium and fat, shades of green and turquoise and a brown one for trunks and stems, and colored the whole thing. It's not greatly artistic, but I cannot even draw so I make no claims to having an artist's eye and sensibility. It does look like the shrubs of a marsh to me and the crows -- fancy cut from a design I had and fused -- seem to have some perspective. Since I was lazy and did only outline quilting on the previous journal quilt, I spent an afternoon heavily quilting this -- so heavily I got a feeling of what thread painting may be like ... well, sort-a, not nearly that heavily but very heavy for me. I often don't like the surfaces of heavily quilted works and I don't like the surface of this all that much. But it was an interesting experiment and that's the purpose of the journal quilts for me. So this is unlike any other and I hope I'll be able to say that about each and every subsequent one.l

Friday, June 18, 2010

Beautiful natural designs

I've shifted into full summer mode, waking at 5:00 when it's fully light, maybe lolling abed for half an hour but up by 6:00 and, when weather permits, taking a two mile walk on the beach before 9:00. I carry my camera and often am glad [snapped a white shark the other day -- see my other blog]. I see so many beautiful patterns as a result of the tide or the constant grinding of shells and sand. The pieces of seaweed are laid out very gracefully sometimes. Other times they look like the tangled strands of a mop.

Shells are endlessly fascinating, their shapes, their colors, and the colors inside -- only when they are very fresh does one find wonderful blues inside shells and on crab claws, just at the edge of the surf usually. But there are browns and pinks and pale yellows inside broken shells. And the wonderful ones that have been totally bleached to chalky white.

And then there are the patterns of the spiral inside the conch shells, which are sometimes honed to only the spiral. Often wonderful patterns have been etched into the shells -- click to enlarge both these shells. The circular patterns on the outside of the one larger one are from smaller crustataceans adhering to the outside and then falling off. The lacy pattern on the bottom picture is repeated with endless vacations, every one astonishes me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Good Week

It's been a good week -- Leslie has vacationed and I've vacationed with her. We've had quite a bit of good beach weather, some very nice seafood meals and just lots of quiet rest time. The Cape is beautiful with tons of roses everywhere, the ocean and the bay sparkle and have presented her with enough shell bounty that she's packed up a box to send herself as a present when she gets home.

Yesterday when she and her sister did some very serious hiking in the dunes between Truro and Provincetown with Rachel's school hiking club [much dwindled this last hike of the year], I was able to finish the quilt in the previous post. It's not one of my favorites, too in-your-face colors. But I really wanted to use the diamonds. It was a total stash buster with a backing of a different parrot fabric that I've had for quite a while. Love using up parts of the stash. Will now look for a place to donate the quilt -- but not until I've joined the local quilt guild, showed it at the first show-and-tell and thank the woman who gave away the diamond pieces and show her what became of them. [I hope she isn't horrified.]

Next week it will be life as normal with the addition of serious dieting for the rest if the summer. In the crossword puzzle the clue is "person dieting" and the answer is "loser." I hope that will be me. I shall not come back to this theme very often; I have always preferred that my dieting be private so I can suffer silently and alone. [and sometimes cheat a little, I will admit].

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Freebie stack-n-whack

A set of diamonds cut from a parrot fabric in Bethanty Reynolds "Stack-n-whack" method was the treasure I brought home from the Bayberry Quilters meeting that my friend Marylou invited me to attend a couple of weeks ago. They had a free share table and I was told it was alright for a guest to take the baggie full of cut diamonds, plus a couple of strips of the original fabric. I'm a sucker for these designs as I've demonstrated many times. So I couldn't wait when I got home to pull out a bunch of stash fabrics and start sewing.

I chose the bright colors on the parrots bodies for the background of the various squares and used up several pieces I had in my stash. Plus the back is a bigger piece with parrots that I have had quite a long time. It is not finished, no quilting yet and of course no border. I plan to join that guild this summer and will take this quilt as my first show and tell and thank the person who made it possible.

When something has been in a stash more than a couple of years it begins to see as if it were free -- so this quilt feels like a total freebie even though I know perfectly well I purchased those background fabrics at some point in the forgotten past.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Heritage Plantation

To celebrate my birthday my daughters and I went to Heritage Plantation in Sandwich, a town here on Cape Cod. It's 70 acres of planting, most famous for it's spring time display of rhododendrons and azeleas. Last year on the first weekend of June it looked like the above photo. This year we had a very early spring and all the rhodies were gone but I was not disappointed. Even before getting through the entrance I had seen my favorite flower, the peony -- as big and totally luscious as a flower can be.
Then we saw a flowering golden rain tree which was very tall and wide so that this photo really doesn't begin to show what a lovely sight it was.
Many mountain laurels were in bloom, some white and some with red and white blossoms, they were more delicate than rhodies and lucky to have a time to themselves to really shine.
We saw a couple of museums, one with rubbings and photos of 18th century gravestones and another another with wooden indians and a handful of paintings. Then we followed a winding path above and beside a lake with ducks on it, came to a labyrinth which we dutifully walked. And then strolled across a beautifully manicured rolling lawn to the hosta garden and then to the herb garden.
And to top the afternoon off we made a stop at Titcommb's bookstore in Sandwich which has a very browse-able selection of new and used books and very tastefully selected gifts. Plus Rachel discovered she knows the very personable manager. What more could one hope for?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Time Marches On

I haven't posted here for a bit and think it's time. This was posted a couple years ago. This shows five generations of first daughters in my family. I am the baby in the black and white photo, and the middle one in the color photo. I have a birthday coming and I'm pondering about aging as I become as old as the bonneted woman in the black and white [my grandmother] and as my mother in the color photo. These photos prove much about health and medicine and that progress has been made over these 70 years.

I know, also, that a progression has taken place in what women expected of their lives and how they live them, it has much to do with education and even more to do with the pace of change in society. My great-grandmother went to school only a few years and the same with my grandmother but my mother graduated from high school. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. The others lived within a few miles of where they grew up for the rest of their lives. I have lived far from home and traveled farther than any of them could imagine. I did not know my great-grandmother [she died two or three years after that photo] I believe my grandmother had a simple kind of acceptance in her later years, suffering from congestive heart disease and doing nothing about it; taking breathlessness and decline as an expected progression. My mother had massive heart surgery and later became depressed by macular degeneration which contributed to her lack of will to live after another heart attack. I think she hoped for better final years. I think I will remain healthy much longer [but who knows?] and my expectations are much brighter. My coping skills are greater and I'm financially better off. So that brings me to another birthday... tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

It's a bird, it'a plane --

I looked up from my sewing and saw this bird in the sky. A beautiful, breezy weekend day. This apartment complex is inhabited by mostly rather non-playful types, people over 50 but mostly in the 70 to 80 year old range. In short, not a kite flying crowd.

But, yes, it was a kite, a beautiful hawk kite, mostly yellow with Asian type markings, likely of Chinese manufacture [but these days, what isn't?]. It soared and fluttered and eventually fell into the parking lot. I assumed it must belong to someone's grandchild. But no. First I saw Joe, the building's jack-of-all-trades man pick it up. He handed it to the Vietnamese man, who was spray painting the shingles of the building -- the building belongs to a family from Vietnam. This is their American dream, their wealth, and pride and they take quite good care of the place. And, now I see, they also play a little bit, even when putting in extra hours of work over a holiday weekend. In the last year or so, many things in my life have seemed so serenditiously delightful ... maybe it's also a matter of keeping my eyes open and enjoying the tiny things like an unexpected sight of a kite in the sky.