Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fat Dragon

 This wall hanging is so long, about 5 foot, that to get a passable photo I had to take two.  (Apologies because the lower half was take from a bit further away than the top half)

The fabric is an indigo, hand-stamped, batik which I purchased in Yunnan province in China a few years ago and have been thinking of quilting and using as a wall hanging.  It's story is this: I was traveling with only three other people (plus American and required Chinese guides) in Sichwan and Yunnan provinces. We visited a Miaow village; they are a tribal people, have attractive stone villages and live in beautiful rolling foothill of the eastern Himalayas. Although we were a very small group of tourists, our arrival triggered a serious feeding frenzy. We could barely look at the village and the people's costumes because venders were shoving things at us telling us prices. I saw an indigo dragon fabric and paused a moment go see how long it was.  The woman was asking a price as high as I would have to pay retail in the
US.  I said no thank you.  Eventually the venders realized we were there to listen to the village spokesman and to wander around the attractive village and countryside.

A couple of days later we were at a grotto that is a minor tourist site. We were the only tourists around, there were a couple of women with brassiers selling delicious smelling roasted sweet potatos and a few tables with items for sale. On one was this batik which I recognized as surely from the same workshop as the one I'd seen before. This time the vender's price was half that asked  by the Miaow woman. I bought it.

I machine quilted around the designs, added the navy border and added some quite narrow silver colored braiding. I can see that the stamps of designs along the sides are out of sync with one another near the top -- a "mistake" that makes me like the print more  than if it were perfect.  However, as I worked on it, I liked the scaly body of the dragon, felt his feet were too small and his head very much too small.  He looks like a fat worm with a little dragon head. I remember that some poem or epic from early English lit. called dragons "worms". And I think Tolkein calls his dragon, Smaug, in The Hobbit a worm.  Still this worm seem to have no menace, has no wings and seems a pussy-cat of a dragon although it is quite authentic as handwork from another country.  So I have mixed feelings about my personal Smaug.  I look forward, in a couple of weeks to seeing the movie of The Hobbit. For now my fat wormy dragon hangs in a space just the right size for it but I think his tenure is limited.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Quick little quilt

Rachel and some of her work colleagues have been collecting donations to purchase blankets fo go to a shelter for young homeless women in Venezuela. (Someone they know is volunteering there). It seems one of the 20 or so young women has an infant daughter.  Rachel asked if I could make a quilt for the baby so it, too, would have something warm. 

In half a dozen hours on Saturday and Sunday I stopped my quilting projects and quickly made this little pink scrap quilt and fused on some  butterflies.  Nothing fancy or cutsey, but I'm glad I recently collected a handful of pink scraps from  the free table at a guild meeting as I thought that my stash of pink was very limited. So, in a sense, this quilt is not only made by me but donated by some women who will never know that their generosity is warming a baby girl on another continent.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey today

What is this new thing of "brineing" the turkey?  For me "retired" means as little cooking as I can get away with and I don't keep up with the trends. But suddenly everyone I talk to, including Rachel, the family turkey cook today, is brineing the bird.  I'll find out 'round 'bout noon when I go to her house to lend a hand in the more familiar business of veggie prep.  THAT is something I still do quite a lot.

The older I get the more vegetables I eat.  My love of broccoli is a family joke. Turkey and chicken are on my menu far more than red meat.  But my preparations are always old-fashioned and simple these days.  Cooking for one can be almost an afterthought --if you give a little thought to grocery shopping.

We'll have a small gathering, which is just fine.  Being an early riser I always see the sunrise this time of year. The sun hit the horizon all golden but lifted itself up into a thin layer of clouds that are dissolving as I type.  I may have time to bundle myself up a bit and go for a quiet contemplative seaside walk ... isn't quiet contemplation one of the requisites today?  After three and a half years as a "wash ashore" here on Cape Cod, I like the shore I've washed up on.  It's geographically beautiful. I've found that stereotype of the cold, reserved New Englander doesn't seem to apply to the people my age that I've come to know, friendly, thoughtful, intelligent and, in fact, fun loving -- now there's a non-stereotypical adjective! -- that's the people I've met here.  I'm truly thankful I'm where I am, doing what I'm doing. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quilts for Sandy Victims

I have been hoping I'd discover a way to give a coupe of quilts to New Yorkers who lost their homes in Hurricane Sandy.  Happily, yesterday an email from the Bayberry Guild told me that one of the members is driving to the city for Thanksgiving and will take quilts.  She knows of a police headquarters that is collecting donations and will distribute them. 

There are so many charities I would like to give money to but money isn't readily available for such things. However, I seem unable to stop making quilts and certainly don't need all that I have stashed on closet shelves and under beds.  Some become bed size because I just can't stop making the squares -- like this strip pieced quilt I made last spring.  It's on it's way as of this morning, along with another that was made last winter.  Now there is a space under my bed where I was storing them in a zipped plastic bag that once had a purchased comforter in it.  I make it known to family and friends that I would be a happy recipient of any such bags that may come into their homes.  I have no reason to buy blankets and comforters and bed spreads since I always sleep under my quilts.  I'm glad a couple of other people will soon have these quilts. It's a small drop in the empty pail of what they need, but it's something I can do.

Monday, November 12, 2012

So beautiful a great-gramma has to brag

My pin-up of the month.  What more can a great-grandmother say?

Friday, November 09, 2012

Group quilt

Block exchanges (swaps) over the entire fall have finally added up to twenty 12x12 blocks almost all black and red, or just black ad white.  A bit of teal and a touch of yellow were included (actually in blocks I made as trials). So over the past week-end I put them together with three inch black stripping and this is what it looks like. 

I have pieced a back for it but haven't added batting and, of course, haven't quilted it.  The choice was to use black or red stripping. A year ago I did a similar sampler block quilt with red and liked it very much but I thought a change would be good.  The black is fine although it makes it seem a very serious quilt. 

With many other projects in the works, this will remain a UFO for some time, I think.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Three Quilts from the New England Quilt Show

 The New England Quilt Show has moved to Manchester, VT from Nashua where it formerly was.  This is a better venue and the show-- although somewhat crowded in the room they chose to use in the Raddison Convention Center (there is a much larger room that was not used -- I assume it was a matter of money).  However they had a room next door where all the venders were.  I found that a very good arrangement -- it was possible to concentrate on the show without being distracted by vender booths and the vender room was well arranged and easy to maneuver.

Most of the quilts -- no surprise -- were what I call contemporary traditional.  They were all well made, nearly all used the beautiful modern fabrics available, both batiks and the many lines for quilters.  They had a harmoniousness that only can be achieved by having a wide choice of fabrics. Many were traditional patterns, and variations thereof, often with applique to compliment piecing.  Usually with complex
 long-arm or home machine quilting, many with embellishments  -- all the tricks, the bells an whistles that are beloved of quilt magazine editors. And beloved of quilters also.  They were labor intensive and reason for the makers to be proud.

But there were few surprises, these three surprised me enough to pull out my camera and take photos. The tree was elegant in its simplicity--a breath of elegance among all the complexity (all of which was in the service of what many today think elegance means, but I disagree, obviously)

The two lower quits were made by women who were judges of the show.  The random stripes with the floating circles is also simple, it's more whimsical than elegant and made me smile.  It seems to me this is a woman who truly enjoys putting fabrics together and isn't hung up on the color wheel.
This fish has a blue ribbon on it as you can see.  If you look closely you'll also see three segments of scales made of tabs from pop-open soda cans. The eye is also part of a  metal tab. Again whimsical, but in this case whimsey applied to a quilt that required a lot of planning and sewing.  There are borders that cannot be seen in this photo which were also complex. 

I did not write down the names of the quilters as I should have done.  I wasn't thinking about blogging but simply about enjoying the few quilts that said to me this is someone with an artist's soul, not a person overly influenced by the pictures in the magazine.  I enjoyed the show but I was not inspired by it.  It's good to see excellent craftsmanship.