Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thinking Christmas

At a gathering of quilters a couple of weeks ago one of the women spoke of making sweatshirt jackets by raw edge appliqueing more or less random pieces of fabric to the sweatshirt, after a front opening has been cut and the whole side and underarm seams also cut open. The hostess of the gathering went to her closet and modeled her version which was very handsome. I've done two and am on the third as of this morning. I have a large stash so one was made of only batiks and this one of blue/lavender fabrics, it doesn't need big pieces so I can't call it a stash buster. My favorite thing about quilting has always been making seat-of-the-pants decisions about which fabrics to put next to each other. I had so much fun with this particular jacket that I began appliqueing a second fabric on top of the first. I'm getting a lot of loose threads so I'll wash it before I give it away and hope to dislodge the really loose threads. But if it has a slightly "hairy" appearance, that's okay with me.

The jackets are meant to be worn casually with jeans, not seriously out of the house. I had thought the first one which is on a fleece sweat-style top, would become a bed jacket for myself as I love reading in bed, especially winter nights. But I decided it was just the right thing for my niece so I may have to make another for myself. I'm really enjoying the project. A baby quilt has been requested so I have to leave myself time for that, too.
Speaking of babies, little Sophia here is no longer the baby of the family [she is my son-in-law's niece]. Whenever she visits, as Thanksgiving day, my daughter's house her first stop is the Buddha board where she can paint with water as she is doing here. I've written about the Buddha board before -- that is a trade marked name and can be found by Googling it and can be ordered if anyone wishes. [I am not a salesman.] Our family have several, I had a tiny one. The board part has a surface that dries gradually after a picture is painted -- it is a meditation device. You can see the potential if, for instance, you write your name or draw a self-portrait and mediate as it gradually fades away. I use that exercise also as a timer for how long to sit and meditate. Sophia tends to slather on a lot of water and doesn't particularly want it to dry -- but is then pleased if she goes away to do something else and comes back and finds a clean board to draw on all over again.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkeys and other wild life

The local newspapers have received a number of photos of wild turkeys from local residents. I have seen them rarely but I rejoice that they are around. I'm also happy there are deer and coyotes and beavers reclaiming the land, I used to visit the Catskills frequently and keep looking for the little black bears others reported seeing. Some romantic part of me wants the land to be as abundant and varied as it reportedly was when first settled by the Pilgrims. I know that is impossible, I know the chestnuts and elms are gone, I know the frogs and honeybees are disappearing in many places, various kinds of birds are gone forever. Like many people who notice what's going on, my environmentalism is really a romantic impulse. I try to be informed, but I'm not an activist, only an observer and not a very active one.

When I eat turkey at Thanksgiving, I know the bird was factory raised and factory killed. I know the flavor is not from the bird itself but from the skill of the cook and the way the stuffing's spices and flavors has added taste to the meat. I enjoyed the meal but it was not the protein part I loved. Like so many others [at our table and across the country] it was the carbohydrates, the fats and sugars that I enjoyed most. I haven't stepped on the bathroom scale this morning and it's a gray and damp day which does not encourage restorative walking. I'll avoid the greedy scenes at the mall and do some home sewing of Christmas presents.

My thoughts are scattered, as you see, this morning. Perhaps that's a carb hangover. Happily my refrigerator is full of fruits and vegetables and most of the leftovers were left elsewhere.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thinking aka meditating

I just found an aphorism on Marian Van Eyk's Elderwoman blog that resonates with what other blogs have said on the blogs I have been browsing this evening:

They say the unexamined life is not worth living, however the unlived life is not worth examining.

Most people I know are indeed living their lives quite fully -- which is not the same as constant multitasking. But every now and then I run into someone either in person or through their writing, sometimes on blogs, sometimes in other venues, who seem to have done relatively little living and certainly little self-examination. That is very sad.

Monday, November 22, 2010

MackIntosh Inspired Wall Hanging

I've finally finished this wall hanging inspired by the Scottish architect/designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It has not been hanging long enough to straighten out and I should have waited to photograph it. The design as a quilt was done by Claudia Clark Myers for her book A Passion for Piecing.
It is perhaps the simplest in the book and one of the most dramatic. There is another quilt or two in the book that I'd love to make. I have to have the time and the nerve to spend as long piecing as they would demand.

I enjoyed pulling out all my reds and working with my daughter, Rachel to chose the ones to go into this quilt. Since my living room is full of red and black this is a perfect addition.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nice to Know I'm Not the Only One

It may take a bit of looking but that photo is my foot, garbed in a sock, on the pedal of my sewing machine. I very rarely sew with shoes on -- or at last not on my right foot which I use on the pedal of the machine, when the weather is reasonably warm, I'm like likely to be barefooted.

Recently Karen who write the Selvage Blog, which is in the sidebar here, said in a post that she usually sews barefooted and asked her readers what they did. The last time I looked over 30 had said they sew bare or sock-footed, and none were advocates for shoes. I feel I have much more control especially about the speed when I can feel the pedal right there under the sole of my foot. Naturally I know that when I drive a car, I am also controlling the speed with my foot, but that seems a very different matter. I do not drive barefooted and it's my understanding that most insurance companies insist the driver have on shoes -- which I think is pretty ridiculous.

To digress from sewing matters, I have long been aware that the reason we have the seat belt laws is because of serious lobbying on the part of insurance companies, not because legislators cared about saving our lives. The insurance companies didn't like the thousands and thousands of dollars it cost when an accident victim went through the windshield -- the injuries were horrible, if not fatal and the consequences often lifelong disabilities.

Well, I haven't heard of any disabilities from controlling sewing machines with the unshod foot and plan to continue sewing this was for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November Journal Quilt

The theme of my year of journal quilts is trees and birds. For November the title is "The Ones Who Winter Over". I've added four birds to the leafless trees which represent the birds that I still see at the feeders -- or at least I hope these are the right birds. I'm not a bird identifier and I only watch them at feeders and to me the majority are LBBs -- which is "Little Brown/Black birds." I'm happy people feed them and later in the winter I wonder how the tiny little things manage to stay alive in blizzards. Nature's wonders.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nashua, NH show purchase

This is Bernina's lightweight portable sewing machine, the Bernette. It seems almost a toy. Compared to my ancient Riccar [the saleswoman said it had been made by Bernina .. circa 1960] which had only two plastic parts and has, in its old age developed rheumatism, siatica, wheezing, and probably cardiac occlusion, this is a healthy, happy child who has acquired very few skills or competencies but has endless energy and charms me. It was on sale at the Quilters Gathering in Nashua, N.H. at about half price, I was able to bring it home -- a carrying case came with it and it would be ungracious of me to complain that it's kind of an ugly brocade-y fabric.

I walked around the quilt show for about an hour asking myself if I wanted this machine. I have been sorry I didn't have a portable for taking to classes or sew-ins. And I have hesitated for some years about purchasing a new electronic, digitalized machine that does everything except select the fabric colors for you. I keep asking myself what kind of quilter am I? The answer is that I'm happy to be an amateur, am not ambitious to win prizes, don't care about many new techniques -- I don't want to thread paint or embroider or do very fancy quilting. I want to be able to do rather modest things but some complex paper piecing -- but paper piecing is only straight sewing. So obviously I decided I would buy this machine. So far it's easy to use, purrs far more quietly than the growling Riccar. So I am happy.

The Work in Progess that is partially visible in the photo will be finished by dinner time today and, if I can find the hanging rod I think I've stashed somewhere, it will be hanging and I can take a photo later on which I'll post in a day or two

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Oldest Twins in the World

This article with the wonderful photo is from The Elderwoman Newsletter They live in Powys in Wales -- don't we all wish to look so happy and vibrant at 100? And how wonderful is it to still be able to live in your own house?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Geese left behind

No quilting is getting done, a batch of other things need doing but I'll get back to my nearly done quilt soon. Meanwhile here is my paper pieced Canadian goose. I've shown it before, he's an illustration for the poem I felt inspired to write this week.

Going South?

Only two now, out there,
Early morning on the lawn,
Mates, if one believes the romance
About geese mating for life.
They arrive early and quietly now
As if they’re a little embarrassed
That they’ve dawdled here
When their companions left two weeks ago.

During the summer more than thirty
Arrived each morning whooping
Like a Comanche raid war party.
Most stalked the grass, some took turns
Scouting, heads erect, eyes brightly watching.
Only mildly perturbed if Joe rushed
Flapping a towel or clapping hands
-- a single settler against the tribe.
He hates the landmines they lay,
Sticky worms of poop
Fouling [fowling too] and fertilizing the lawn.
Some squawk indignantly and waddle away
Like broad beamed matrons leaving a quilting bee.

Next door Ed and Margie dawdle like the goose pair.
They can’t decide when to leave for Florida this year.
Ed keeps tinkering with the car,
Margie makes soup and zucchini bread.
They like the crisp days of autumn.
Perhaps they ought to coop up those geese
And deliver them to a Delaware corn field.
Old people and old geese cling to the familiar,
Need a nudge to do what’s good for them.

Friday, November 05, 2010

A Quilt Gathering, Nashua, NH

Rhonda Beyer made this grand prize winning quilt which had the place of honor at the show in Nashua, NH that I went to yesterday with the Bayberry Quilt group. It was a beautiful combination of taupe and black. That it was expertly sewn goes almost without saying. The feathered stars were perfectly made, which is why I include the detail below. In the full size picture you can see that there are designs in black around the inside border -- these were all machine embroidered and each was different.
This quilt is truly a combination of traditional piecing [although probably the feathered stars were paper pieced] along with the technology of what today's expensive sewing machines can do. Add to that the current interest in taupe -- a "fad" imported from Japan where taupe has been very popular for the last 3 or 4 years. It has not been a big hit with American quilters but here it was extremely effective. I totally agreed with the judges that this was the most outstanding quilt in the show.
Otherwise I was under-whelmed by the show. Many traditional designs, mostly using very modern fabrics were well made but very little was unique or able to hold my attention very long. There were only a small handful of what I would call art quilts, of which this is the most unique and interesting one. It was badly displayed at about knee level -- an indication of the quilt show curators of their interest in art quilts.

This bright pineapple quilt was probably the one that will inspire me to make something along the same lines. There was also a Chinese coin quilt that did not photograph very well because what I liked about it was that the fabrics chosen were so well blended they created another fabric. This seems a bit too "sweet" but I could imagine it in other colors working with much more pizzazz.

I was only able to credit the prize winner because it was easy to find her in the show booklet. When I had taken a picture of another I was told by the quilt police [a "white glove volunteer] that I couldn't use my pen to jot down in a tiny notebook which quilts I took pictures of. For some reason that is unfathomable to me, pens and pencils were forbidden on the show floor. Other rules that appalled me were that the volunteers were not allowed to turn over the quilt so a viewer could see the back [which is the usual job of the white glove ladies] and that absolutely no food or drink was allowed on the floor including water. I have never heard anything more ridiculous at a quilt show. No food makes sense the rest is another example of the rampant paranoia that is affecting American society today. We are making ourselves into a self-policed state with ridiculous rules and fears that "something could happens". I for one don't want to live in a society where nothing ever happens.

The show's special attraction was a collection of Amish quilts, many large ones -- but all recent, i.e., from the '50s onward when most of the skill and color sense had been lost, alas, yes, even the Amish are Americanized! They had begun making quilts quickly for sale using pattterns that would sell. Sad. I've seen true antique ones and thought that was what I would be seeing. A nice collection of miniature Amish quilts were older and some really wonderful with startlingly small pieces. Of course all photography was forbidden -- more quilt police, although in this case, they are able to make a reasonable argument for damage being possible from the light although, actually, I don't buy it.

I was not in a good mood most of the day -- the vender section was far larger than the show and they were so crowded movement was almost impossible - plus many women were walking about with huge tote bags bumping and thumping one another. And to add insult to injury the Raddison Hotel which has surely hosted many other large events in those rooms was unable to keep up with the line of people waiting for lunch and not replenishing food quickly. Of course it was over priced but one expects that. I had one positive about the day but I will write about that another time.