Thursday, December 26, 2013

Baby Stella and her quilt

A little fussy and about ready for a nap, Stella is wrapped in her new quilt holding a new bunny doll. She has a reindeer headband made by her mother who has a knack for headband making.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Stella's Stars

I was waiting for the sun to come out so I could get a photo with the pinks more or less true  They're fairly true although you can't see that the background of the main part is a pretty print.  The stars are viewable.  Not your usual cute baby quilt.  But I'm not a "cute" kind of great-grandmother and I really wanted to make complicated stars.   So this will go to Stella tomorrow for her first Christmas.  That backing is a Liberty of London fabric, very light pink printed with the alphabet.  I actually bought that fabric at a thrift shop even before Cori and Jay were married, let along before I had any thought of soon (or so it now seems) having a great-granddaughter.

She'll have a first birthday almost immediately and will get a more appropriate bunny-doll.  I usually don't wash new quilts but I wanted this  to have an antique look and I wanted to get rid of visible marking pencil lines used for the machine quilting. Done in time for Christmas.  Now on to other projects.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Honey and Honey comb

"I haven't seen honey comb in ages," I said the other day when half a dozen of us (women) were sitting at lunch talking about food additives.  Someone said she had read that most honey on the market is not pure honey but  a mixure of syrups and preservatives. (As if honey needs an additive!).  I believe she is probably right (I'm willing to believe anything stupid and venal that the food industry might do). 

That morning I had put honey on whole grain toast and noticed, sadly that the jar is almost empty. It was given to me last Christmas and is named Bumble Rumble Honey from a private apiary in Barnstable, Massachussets -- which is to say not more than ten miles away from where I live.  I believe this to be pure honey and I truly enjoyed it. Then came my comment about honey comb. True I used to see it frequently as a choice in the grocery departments but haven't see it for a very long time. 

As soon as one thinks of a thing it often appears (except parking places at the mall at Christmas time).  This morning, at a no frills produce outlet that I frequent -- the kind that is a commercial outlet for a company that mainly supplies local restaurants with produce they buy daily from the whoelsale markets in Boston -- I saw, beside the cash register two small jars of honey with the comb inside. They were only 6 or 8 ounces and cost $23.95 each. A stiff  price for a lot of beeswax! But the experience proves it is still to be found. I will definitely tell my friends the next time we meet but I'm not feeling generous enough to buy a jar for each of them as a Christmas gift.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Batik reversible quilt

For over a year I've been collecting batik charm squares (5x5") planning to make a reversible quilt.  It's done and badly photographed. (If I can get photos with truer color I'll replace these.) There are 260 squares, which is 130 on each side of the quilt. 

The top photo is the dark colored side.  The bottom photo shows light side - these colors are fairly true. This is my second try at getting decent photos but they don't really do them justice.

This is simply quilted on the diagonal, the front squares are divided with a light multi-colored batik and the back with a dark batik fabric.  I will be mailing it tomorrow to my daugther in California who says the quilts she'd had for a few years are getting tired and need a fresh infusion.

That's fine, because I sew for the fun of seeing the pattern and colors work the way they I'm happy to give it to someone who'll use and appreciate it. 

I had a half hour going through quilts this morning and now have a different one hanging in the living room to look at for a while.  I change things after several weeks -- if I didn't go through the bags of quilts now and then I'd totally forget about some of them.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

No Time to Have a Cold

I've often noticed that Presidents don't seem to catch cold.  Also I've never seen a concert musician stop and sneeze, blow his or her nose or cough.  Sometimes you just don't have time to have a cold.  That's how I've felt this week.  So I fought the cold I wrote about a couple days ago with simple remedies, mainly plenty of sleep, long steamy baths were a pleasure and I became so relaxed I could not hold my eyes open long when I thought I'd read for a while before going to bed.  Some hot tomato soup and peppermint tea was also involved and, yes, I also had some chicken soup another day.  That and determination -- do I believe in mind over matter?  well... maybe ... Anyway, I haven't reached for the tissue box even once today and maybe a little cough or two this morning.  I can't help wondering also if my new practice of tai chi played a role. It's supposed to be good for blood pressure and much else. A friend recently gave me a page printed from a Harvard Medical School website that listed several medical studies attesting the benefits of tai chi.  None of them mentioned the common cold.  Just wondering ....  Doesn't that panda look like one contented little beastie?

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Sniffle, sneeze ....

Coming down with a cold is a bummer. Sniffle, sneeze, cough. The head seems to be all stuffy sinuses.  I don't get a full blown cold very often but I've got one now.  I'm about 30 hours into it; I figure the running nose will end in the next 12 or 20 hours and then it'll be a cough for a few days.

Of course this is a most inconvenient time.  That's how colds happen, when you're thinking of all the things you want to do in the next week.  I am not one to go to bed with a cold.  I tend it with chicken soup, teas of various kinds and when the cough gets bad with Robitusin. 

I have litle patience for the people who think a cold is a permission slip for them to cancel everything they have to do and lounge in bed, napping and reading and listening to their favorite music.  I've always thought these physical problems were to be worked though.  But a certain amount of pampering is allowed, like going to bed at 8:00 last night, lulled into somnolence by a long hot bubble bath.  In fact, I may give myself the very same license this evening. Big deal. There's nothing earth shaking I need to get done -- although I really must get the chipped old nail polish off  and put on some nice new polish.  A cold isn't an excuse to be slovenly.  So it goes. As they say, if you treat a cold with all the remedies available you can get rid of it in about a week; if you do nothing it'll run it's course in about seven days. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Harvest, Thanksgiving

Happily, I've reached an age and am in a small enough apartment that I do not do big family dinners, I merely contribute, modestly.  This morning, it is an apple pie. These are the after and before photos, I even admit that the crust is courtesy of the Pillsbury company.

As I stood slicing apples I realized that all over the USA millions of women were also in their kitchens (and a few men, I hope) preparing dinner.  Thanksgiving began as a havest festival, we are told. Our history usually neglects to mention that havest festivals are as old as the beginning of agriculture. Some of us still grow our food, or some part of it, but most of us are modern hunter gatherers, roaming supermarket aisles gathering foods from many places around the globe.  Apples are grown nearby but I don't believe these came from a hundred or five hundred miles away.  However, I also made  some spiced cranberries for the feast and those came from no more than 20 miles away. 

I am not a party to the shopping frenzy that is a part of this holiday weekend. "Black Friday" and all the shopping in stores and online that is expected in the next few days is another kind of hunting-gathering. We are no longer an agrarian culture. We are a manufacturing/comercial culture. All those people in the big box stores and others, those surffing the web for the best bargains, are present day gatherers.

We talk about giving thanks, and I think the majority of people will pause, at least briefly, to consider the bounty on their tables. I know many have given time or money to organizations that will give dinners to the needy today ... in America.  Around the world many, many are hungry and needy. A small proportion of people will remember that -- the destitute in the Philippines, refugees in and from Syria, and many, many others on every continent.  When the day was designed for us to enjoy what we have, pausing even briefly to consider the less fortunate is difficult.  However briefly, a moment of  compassion will enhance our day. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Taking braids to a whole level

This photo of an unnamed student in an unnamed classroom has gone viral on the Internet and I can certainly see why. 

I wonder how long it took to achieve this arrangement of braids.  Sometimes about all I can say when I see something like this is that people have endless creativity. 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

One of hte most beautiful autumns

Driving on Rte. 28, a two-lane road, lined with trees in greater proportion than the various homes and commercial areas along that 15 mie stretch, I was constantly in awe of the magnificence that has fallen upon Cape Cod for the last three or four weeks.  Even the years I lived upstate in New York where brilliant foliage is  expected, I sometimes saw great hillsides blazing in these reds, oranges, and golds and bronze, I never felt so enveloped with gorgeousness.  Of course I have no photos of those specific trees because I was driving and I didn't have my camera with me anyway.

The conjoining of crisp nights and mild days (although yesterday was bitingly chilly) has given us an autumn that blazes in brilliance. I kept interrupting my passenger's conversation to exclaim on the beauty. I wasn't trying for silent awe but I was excited to be able to share the spectacle with another person. Usually we have the nasty end of some hurricane (last year, memorably, it was Sandy) that tears the leaves from the trees, or the balance of chilly and warm just doesn't happen.  This year is a gift. I'm delighted that tomorrow I have another 10 mile drive on a two-lane road.  Much too soon the leaves will fall and then the snow will also fall (not too much, I hope) although it, too, has its kind of breathtaking beauty.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

New England Quilter's Gathering

A Quilter's Gathering is an annual quilt show inviting a number of New England quilters and quilt guilds to participate.  For the past couple of years it has been held in Manchester, Vermont at a convention/exhibition Radisson hotel. I went with the Bayberry Quilter's guild yesterday, boarding a bus at 7:30 and returning about 6:30.  The quilts shown here are not typical of those at the exhibit; they are ones I managed to  get photos of before the battery of my camera  quit.  I was flustered by the camera problem and didn't write down the name of the quilter.  I like the Warhol-inspired set of  faces , the colors and the skill using different fabrics.  I recently tried such an effort and found it devilishly difficult.

I like the selvage use in the tree -- this tree was trimmed with Halloween symbols because superstition was one theme of a groups of quilts and because the show was Thursday, Friday and today (Saturday) spanning Halloween.  This is not a holiday I care to celebrate so I was turned off by the embellishments.  But I was happy to see the selvages used. The same woman also made a cloak and a hood using selvages.  I am regular reader of Karen Griska's blog, (see side bar).  And I enjoy using selvages in quilts and am dreaming of making one later in the winter.  

The show has an aura of New England about it; the earth, sky, forest tones of the fabrics, the frequent traditional block styles, a certain quiet strength and reticence. For me the most beautiful quilt was called "The Shell Collector" by Bethanne Nemesh of Allentown, PA, almost a whole cloth quilt, a central panel of quilting that showed her two children at the ocean and a border that showed seashells and such -- all in light blue and sandy beige, all expertly home machine quilted.  The only pieces were an interior border of triangles to separate the central square from the border. 

An astonishing quilt was called "Insanity" a compulsively pieced, reversible quilt with tiny stars about 3 inchs square in gold and dark blue, made by Dan and Carol Perkins of Rangeley, Maine. Dan did the piecing and Carol the quilting.  It had 13,500 pieces of fabric, none of it paper pieced, points of the stars perfect (I think, I certainly did not examine every one).  I just hope they had time to get out of the house and have a social life last winter when the quilt was being made.  It was jaw dropping, I'll admit.  But the overall pattern was too much like printed wall paper for my taste.

From a vender I purchased the catalog/book of  the 2013 Quilt National exhibit and spent the drive home reading the artists statements and looking at those important art quilts and thinking about the quilt world where in textiles are used so variously -- all the  fairly "quilty" quilts I saw during the day and all the works of art, each attempting to make a statement of some profundity, at Quilt National.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Karen Eckmeier, the lucky lizard quilter

Karen Eckmeier, was the speaker today at the Bayberry Quilt Guild meeting. She has won big awards for her work at the annual Houston Quilt show.  As she talked it would seem her work is simple and easy for anyone to do -- I don't think so. When I went up at intermission to look at the pieces she had brought along they are majorly complicated.  She says she just plays with fabric ad builds her tiny towns easily -- with roofs, houses an windows.  Hardly "just".  These are highly complex constructions, arranged with a great design sense and a wonderful eye for color.  They are balanced, whimsical, extremely detailed and breath taking when one is standing close to them.

Besides her tiny towns she talked about her landscapes -- which are, indeed small quilts.  They are comprehensible to me,  I can see how she does them and I can see the appeal of "accidental" landscapes, not knowing at the outset just what kinds of curves and lines you are going to cut -- but first you arrive at your work table with a selection of fabrics that will work well together and you experiment for a few years to get the sense of just what kinds of curving lines will work. 
Her work is fascinating and I can well understand why it was award prizes.  Her talk did not at all convince me this is something I want to try.  

The guild's theme for next summer's show will be "scrap quilts".  Delightfully during the show and tell period at the meeting 80% of the quilts shown were scrap quilts --- not because of the theme but because that's what the women happened to make.  Many were stunning.  I think the next guild show will be a  delight -- the more so since I like scrap quilts more than any other kind of quilts.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Busy but Beautiful Autumn

Blame this unusually beautiful autumn for my lack of posts to this blog.  Also blame how busy I have been - but part of that has been taking every opportunity I could to walk on the beach, until today, it has been barefoot although earlier in the week my toes got very chilled. So it's time for the sneakers again  and that's a sign.  The rose hips are a sign, in fact, this photo was take about a month ago and the hips have had enough chilly night to have shriveled and lost their smooth skinned loveliness -- not unlike a number of women I know.

I've had little time for quilting because I am very busy with the Academy for Lifelong Learning at the Cape Cod Community college, taking classes and teaching my writing skills class. Besides which this is the time my very, very competent committee is helping edit the submissions for the 2013 "Reflections" anthology of student writing. It's both fun and frustrating -- fun because people have such a variety of things to write about, frustrating because the rules of punctuation and, in too many cases, good grammar have long been forgotten -- shriveled, perhaps like the rose hips. That's why I decided few years ago to teach a skills class.  But I will quickly admit that some of the committee members are teaching me rules of punctuation and grammar that even the good old Word program seems to ignore. 

Quilting has not entirely gone bye-the-bye.  I've made blocks for my guild's BOM and for swaps -- mostly black and white blocks because collecting them leads to interesting quilts.  And I have a couple of special projects in the works, one a double sided batik quilt with dark, rich colors on one side and light and bright colors on the other.  It's about half done.  I love best the active part of choosing which color will go beside which. Although these are not scraps of batiks but 5 inch squares, it is the same process as scrap quilting when every piece added is a decision. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Paula Nedelstern, Bayberry Quilters Guild


This breath taking quilt was on display at the Bayberry Quilt Guild meeting today although with a couple others of Paula Nadelstern's latest kaleidoscope quilts. I first heard her speak and saw her early quilts nearly 30 years ago.  She found her love and her specific skill and has pursued it all this time, making one quilt at a time -- in her two bedroom apartment in the Bronx with the kitchen knee deep in fabric.  She is a an easy and informative speaker, her enthusiasm for her quilts and for teaching her method which sounds easy enough but is, many have found, devilishly difficult to pull off.

She has a wonderful informative website where one can see many more of her works, she's written three major books about how to make kaleidoscope quitls, and she has become enamored of the actual kaleidoscopes and had invited the Cape's largest vender of kaleidoscopes to the meeting with many of his wares. 

In the above quilt, as you can see quickly, she is playing with chaos, with breakin the images -- this is new and for me a little unsettling especially as she showed beside her magnificent "Akron Quilt" which is in wonderful blues  with three large kaleidoscopes, all whole and magnificent.  It was truly a great pleasure to her her talk and see her quilts -- many of which she showed as slides, of course. The one that was selected one o the 100 best quilts of the 20th century she has given to the American Folk Art Museum.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just bits and pieces

My sewing room is like rush hour traffic, all starts and stops.  The only think I've finished in the last month besides  few single blocks to swap is this askew log cabin wall hanging.  Each 12 inch block has 30 pieces of fabric and as you can see I chose gray and hot pink.  It was fun to make but, truthfully, it won't hang on the wall very long because every once in a while when I walk past it not really looking at it, my peripheral vision goes a haywire and I feel a bit off kilter.

Right now I have two quilts in need of quilting, not my favorite thing to do, one that needs a lot of rethinking and fixing, and a reversible batik quilt made of 5 inch charms, light on one side, dark on the other, about 1/4 put together.   I'm liking it and it's easy enough but time is not available enough.

That's okay, in the winter season quilting is a part time thing. I have the set of embroidered blocks about a third done -- I must begin doing them again so I can get the rest finished over the winter by working on them a bit each day  -- well, a few days a week -- so I'll have it completed by early next summer as I want it for a show quilt next August.

Monday, September 02, 2013

First Best Friend

By now reminders of my age come not in a trickle as they have for years but in more of a steady drizzle. A little lightening strike happened about ten days ago with the death of Linda Oatman Townsend who was my first best friend. That was first grade (we had no kindergarten in our small school). She became Lin in later life but is always Linda to me. Only 35 or so children in our first grade class and, of them, a large proportion were together right through 12th grade. Only Linda and I went to college from high school. (A few others did later on). Always friends but not "best" friends as the years went on.  She lived in town and I lived on a farm; I couldn't go to her house to play although once or twice she came home with me.

Interests changed, personalities firmed up, boy friends intervened.  In Indiana University we lived in different dorms and never saw one another. Not really again until out 40th high school reunion.  By the 50th (a few years ago) the internet had entered our lives and Linda took on the role of communicator. She had retained strong ties to her home town and to many of our classmates, as I had not. She began emailing monthly updates. A great many of them spoke or cancer, heart attacks, deaths of class members. She, herself, was frail, with COPD. I knew a little about her career s a teacher in Covina, California, but not much.

She went into the hospital to have a hip replacement replaced.  Did well enough to go to rehab a few days after the surgery, then collapsed and died. I have not heard except a conjecture of internal bleeding, a culpable surgeon or hospital.  Whichever, she is being buried in her hometown near her parents.  She had a full and active live in Covina but she was a hometown girl. Our lives have barely touched each other for over 50 years, but I feel nostalgic and wish we had stayed more in touch. The several other deaths of classmates have not struck such a doleful note for me.  And, of course, the sense that she shouldn't have died just yet is sobering. It can happen to any of us.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

"My" Geese and the Little Goose Girl

The Canadian geese are back and in large numbers.  In the spring we had 10 to 12 that arrived in the morning and feasted on the lawn for a while. Then they disappeared for about a month. They were nesting somewhere.  (There are two small ponds not far away and I think they nest there.) Then one day this Mama Goose was in the yard with five goslings (one independent gosling was out of picture range). I didn't see them arrive or leave but I assume they walked. Clearly the goslings don't have feathers enough to fly. 

In the past two weeks we've suddenly had 30 and more geese in the yard, often in the morning for breakfast then they they go away and come back in the afternoon. The lawn usually has many small, light feathers floating about after they leave. So it seems clear many of the new flock  are this year's chicks, now with feathers but still shedding some of the fluffy chest feathers. They are picturesque but they leave deposits of poop all over the lawn. I tell visitors to "beware the land mines." 

Some residents don't like them. One woman has been out two afternoons this week shoo-ing them  away. The first day she  got them all into the parking lot and went inside. About two minutes later I saw them, almost in formation, march back onto the lawn like an army invading with great determination. Soon the woman  was back with a broom. This time she herded them to the road -- actually stopped traffic, as she  got them into the lawn across the way (which is not residential but commerical). They stayed. But they were back the next afternoon and so was she with her broom.

The first contingent have just arrived this afternoon.  I'll watch for their fate. I thought of the Grimm tale of the "Little Goose Girl" but couldn't remember anything except the title. So I have just looked it up.  This is the link for anyone who wants to be reminded in the last few lines just how aptly names those two tale collecting brothers are. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

More International Quilts

Three more favorite quilts from the International Mancusco Quilt Show in Manchester, Vermont which I saw last Thursday.  The purple cow at the top was my all around favorite -- just because it was so much fun to look at.  This is not a cartoon cow.  This is a very real cow, except she's purple. It's the quilt I came home saying, "I wish I'd done that"

The bear is especially wonderful and something I know I could never do. The title is "Fishing Hole" and it's by Barbara McKie, an art quilter whose career I've watched for many years.  The bear and much of the water are tread painted.  She is wonderfully skilled at thread painting.  She had also a delightful quilt with  nine different scenes of a squirrel at a bird feeder. It was also in last year's show and I didn't get a decent photo of it so I'm not showing it.  I probably think it's even more fun than the purple cow.

The bottom quilt is an experiment if design and fabric that I think worked beautifully. It has the pleasure of feeling like an improvization although it may have been carefully thought out.  Putting it on plain black background make the colors and pattern pop and the yellow strips give the feeling that it is more than an improv; it's a well planned piece of art.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Mancusco International Quilt Show, Manchester, VT

The International Quilt Show is my favorite -- except for  Quilt National which is way out in Athens, Ohio and which I haven't seen for several years.  This is a Mancsco show that travels to 6 or 8 venues in the US and is truly international.  There are many American quilts but also (each year a different balance of) quilts from other countries. Japan is always well represented and the Japanese craftsmanship is probably the best in the world -- and they are creative too!  There were wonderful groups of quilts from Germany, Israel, Australia, Canada, England and, as always, fascinatingly different quilts from South Africa.  Here are some of my pictures. I'll input more tomorrow also.
The rhinoceros is rendered real, although it is not photograhic - this is what art can do!  I'd love to live with this ancient looking beast in my living room. This quilt was called "Tiptoe-ing into the Future."

The raven photo didn't photograph as vividly as I wished, but I found bird and Chinese "chops" an evocative quilt.

I photographed the circles because I'm working on a circle quilt although quite different, but the fringe-y method of sewing them together is fascinating.  I'm thinking of making a quilt of 5x5 squares (no circles) that will be reversible and this might be a good way to put them together. One side would be very textured and the other would not be textured. That interests me. Besides it would be easy.

I didn't take time to note down the quilters' names, which I should have done, but I was lazy.  Apologies all around -- to quilters and viewers.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Challenge Quilts -- My EsCAPE

The Challenge theme for this year's Bayberry Quilt show was "My EsCAPE"  A great many were beach themed.  The viewer's choice was a delightful scene on a beach, a very corpulent woman walking a dog. The actual quilter is not at all that size, but she has a sense of humor. Her note said her dream was to have a "dog beach" where she could take her dog.

This is my entry, which also is beachy.  I love the occasional Sunday when I can sit on the beach and work on the NYTimes crossword puzzle.  Rachel took the photo which I printed on fabric and then added the water, sand and a bit of beach grass (as we were asked to use some green). I actually hand quilted the whole quilt -- but it's only 20 x22 including the border.  I looked for an appropriate border fabric but found none, so I printed actual crossword puzzle on fabric as well. 

I wish I'd taken more photos, but I didn't.  I seem to have A LOT of quilt photos on my photo file, and I really don't go back and look at them very often.  There are JUST SO MANY wonderful quilts in the world.  And so many of them inspire me.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

More Bright Quilts from the Bayberry Show

I should apologize to the makers of these quilts for not noting their names -- but I didn't.

The top left is a "Stack and Whack" quilt and she named it "Because it's so much fun."  Which is exactly how I feel about Bethany Reynold's trademarked technique when I can find an appropriate fabric as was found for this quilt.  The patterns that appear a you sew are always a bit surprising and always delight me. The fabric on the border is the one from which all those whirligigs were cut.  And the various background blocks for the whirligigs are well chosen.

The other two seem a great deal alike but they ARE different in their own way.  These, too, I find wonderful fun to make.  As in the top one, they work best when they are all about the same clear hue.  When one begins mixing too many prints with too many colors in different hues they get a little muddy which happened in the bottom one, but it is still a delight to look at.  I really, really love scrap quilts or ones that appear to have been made of scraps.  The black one in the previous post is of the same sort -- all those strips in the diamonds are surely scraps.  I can hardly wait to make another strip quilt similar to that one. 
The orange-y quilt is a Chinese Coins with a well selected stripe to separate the strips of "coins" It's bright and fun but, to me, too pretty, too planned, too careful. That is my taste, I'm sure others would love this quilt. My question that comes up every time I see this kind of quilt is why?  Why is it called "coins" when real Chinese coins are round, as are most coins the world over.  And paper money is this rectangular shape.  Just asking?

Friday, August 02, 2013

A dramatic quilt

The Bayberry Guild's annual show is up and running. I have only two small quilts in it this year: the woven quilt I posted here a couple of months ago and a quilt for the challenge.  I don't have a photo yet so I'll leave that for couple of days. 

I'm getting a little jaded about traditional quilts and did not enjoy the show as much as it probably deserved because a great deal of the workmanship was excellent.  The quilt pictured here is very simple, indeed. Strip pieced triangles are arranged in diamonds and separated by plain black.  It is exactly the kind of scrap quilt I like best -- very, very scrappy,  very simple in design and very dramatic over all.  I feel inspired to make one similar to this -- it would be impossible to make a copy of it and I wouldn't want to, of course. I have plenty of scapes in many colors and designs.

I took a few other photos, partly to remember a quilting design  and because one had extensive hand embroidery.

Besides this one I am inspired by a couple of second hand books I picked up with paper piecing designs. I really love quilt shows but I  prefer a lot of art quilting and, as always and everywhere, that is rare. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer Sunset art quilt

This is a small at quilt called "Summer Sunset.  It's about 15x15.  The red star stands for Mars which isn't really that prominent in the early evening sky.  It was done for a swap, there are a few glass beads in the sky for early stars. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Morning bird song?

The sweet sound of bird song waking one on a summer morn is a poetic cliche.

Around here it's a truism that the birds wake me but "sweet" it is not.  About 4:30 that famous early bird seems not to be seeking a worm, Mr Robin Redbreast is shrieking repeatedly, maybe calling his friends and family -- but there is nothing sweet about his shrill call.

4:30!  Yes.  I go to bed early and I wake early but I would not wake that early if it were not for Robin.  As soon as Robin calms down, and possibly goes seeking those famous early worms,
the gulls start in.

A whole colony of gulls live  on the flat roof of my building and they have three adolescent chicks up there (as I'm told by Joe, the handyman who has checked out the situation).  Gulls are not going to win any singing contests either; they sound more like a batch of super loud kittens demanding food.  That is not just three babies I hear, it is the whole colony. 

Joe also tells me that the crows are very interested in the babies.  I think they have infanticide in mind -- and that's what the adult gulls think also. They gang up on the crows and so far have scared them off. 

Now crows are not among my favorite "singers" either.  Until this summer they were my alarm clock, although they had the decency to wait until at least 5:00 before announcing their presence in certain trees to their buddies in certain other trees.  But lately they seem to have settled somewhere else.

Once all this shrieking and mewling begins to quiet, sometimes the LBB and LGBs in the shrubbery have a chance to actually sing a little bit.  (LBB-little brown birds, and the G is for gray  -- I don't know which is what kind of happy little singer),

For unknown reasons the usual gaggle of geese have forsaken our lawn. I have heard no lamentation about their absence. The goose droppings were a mine field in the grass, but the white splats of the geese on our automobiles is equally irksome.  They just "got no couth." 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

More interesting food

Rachel and I started our initiation into  New Mexican food with lunch at Monica's in the Old Town section of Albuqueque.  It had been highly recommended by a coworker of hers and was an good introduction to the huge plateful enchiladas, (or whatever) with rice and beans and plenty of embellishments.  Served with light and delicious sopadillas and flavored iced tea.  Great introduction but it convinced us to go lighter in our ordering in the future. 

In that heat and atmosphere we decided we did not often want real Mexican influenced food.  The photo here shows one of our best meals, yes, that's tacos on the plate in the lower left corner but they are light -- blue corn tacos filled with trout and a spicy sauce, with generous shaved Montery jack cheese on top.  The other plates include a small steak, and I've forgotten the other dish.  This was at a totally enjoyable restaurant in O'Keefe country, the Abiquiu Inn. 

Among other memorable places we ate, from funkiest, The Big Dawg in Esopolito (fine hamburger) to the Sugar Nymph on the High Road between Santa Fe and Taos, and the Love Apple in Taos, were the most memorable. The tall, beautiful carrot cake at the Sugar Nymph was unthinkable after a serious lunch but so haunted Rachel she had to have a piece of carrot cake shortly after getting home.  At the Love Apple we had locovore food, delicious and beautifully served on a patio.  One of our very best meals was all vegetarian from food we bought at the Santa Fe Farmer's Market and cooked in the suite (complete with kitchen) at the  Villa de Santa Fe, so attrative that we stayed an extra night.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Food, glorious food!

 I never imagined baby beets could be so beautiful -- such a multicolored bouquet.  They were at the Saturday Farmer's Market in the Railroad section of Santa Fe.  A glorious farmer's market where the onions were like new found pearls and the carrots were golden nuggets, the breads were heavenly, the sausages spicy and mouth watering.  A few of these beets plus carrots and snap peas, became our dinner that evening.  Yum!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Ruth's creative life

Ruth,  nearly 80, has a house full of art and craft, much of it produced by her in her TWO  -- yes, not one but two -- studios, and much  of it collected over her years in Mountainair, New Mexico and all of it on display in her house that is a work of collage in itself.  Above my two daughter, Rachel in background and Leslie (back of her head) admire just a tiny corner of a rather capacious house as Ruth leads us to yet another discovery.

She studied doll making (the dolls are all over the house) and currently makes patterns for a famous doll maker. She paints -- and has painted the walls, inside and out, of her house in the folk colors of the Southwest.  We were privileged to spend a night at her house and to wander through rooms full of delight. I will never get over the envy of her space for creating and will always be inspired by her open spirit. 

We met 17years ago on a trip to Tibet -- at that time she wore gold sneakers and had orange hair.  When she was widowed she left her home in Los Angeles and moved to New Mexico near a sister who is also a creative person. We kept in touch with letters every few months and I have told her that she was my inspiration for moving from a large city to a small town and making friends, living a full creative life.  Before we left the next morning she took us to the homey coffee house in town which has become her social center, where she decorates for Christmas and helps out a bit when needed and always meets loving and interesting friends.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Quilt #3

 This log cabin quilt, with stair steps grew on my design wall slowly over about three months.  But it's done now and I'm very happy with the colors.  I always love log cabins and when they're just a little different that's all the better.

A friend sent a vintage-y quilt magazine (maybe from the '50s) which had a picture of a traditional dark and light log cabin with red stairs steps.  I loved it but I've been making black and white and red quilts for a while -- I have one ready to be quilted right now -- so I wanted different colors.  I think I have a home for this quilt -- as a hostess gift in the near future.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

An anniversary quilt done

I was commissioned to make this quilt, which is about 22x28 inches, for the couple's first anniversary.  The poem embroidered in the upper left of the picture was written by Sam, the groom, and sung to Yomiko, the bride . This is from a photo, obviously, which I was able to print on fabric.  I created her gown and his formal attire from my own fabric.  The gold colored background and binding is a William Morris all over design.  The white border is from a Japanese print fabric which also had all the flowers which were fussy cut and fused onto the design.  I had quite a bit of input from the commissioner of the piece, including choosing the fabrics  and arranging the flowers.  So in a sense I was not the designer, just the sewer.  It will be given to them this weekend.  I hope they like it.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

First finished, first started

No posts for a while because I have been working on a number of quilts more or less simultaneously.  Several will, I think, be finished this week although not in the order in which they were begun. 

This woven quilt is finished ... maybe. It was the first begun.  I have it hanging so I can decide if I want to add a few bead embelishments.  I have blue and fushia stones and I think a bit of sparkle might be a good thing. I took away the dark blue border I had originally and added this Hoffman fabric with what appears to be faceted diamond shapes. With the blue it was very somber, but now it almost asks for more sparkle so probably I will add the beads, not a lot, and not in a pattern. 

I hope to finish two more projects tomorrow and then I have a quilt to quilt that has been waiting about six months.  I hope to do that soon too.  After that there are two not too big quilts promised for our Bayberry quilt show, one is moving along slowly and the other is entirely in my head but will be fairly quick to make, and will be only about 20x20.  I love the feeling of finishing things, of "moving right along."

Monday, May 20, 2013

Another BOM - Attic Windows

This Attic Window block -- times two -- is super easy and super fast -- except for some reason I find it hard to get the corner block exactly in place.  Doing a corner block, as can be seen here eliminates mitering at the corner.  It makes sense and is easy enough.  But I've made many attic window quilts and  have devised my own method of mitering that works well.  I won't try to explain which is why I used this sneaky little trick for the BOM for the Bayberry Quilter's Guild.  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

I've found that auto-timed photos seldom work, although in my experience they work a little better than asking a waitress to take a photo. However, in this case, that old gold colored background is a disaster that, of course, we didn't realize. Plus the focus is not sharp.  Plus I now have a serious intellectual dilemma -- I feel like a much too serious elder generation with my current hairdo  and am a bit jealous of my lovely daughter and granddaughter -- while bursting with pride that they are both, certainly to me, stunning and wonderful.

Anyway we had an afternoon tea together (that martini glass holds a concoction called a Tea-tini). Baby Stella is not in the photo because she was sleeping so peacefully in her carseat-carrier at her mother's feet that we didn't want to wake her. It was damp and by the time we left the restaurant actually raining.  Rain again today.  The rain means I don't have to water the two abundant baskets of purple and white petunias that were a mother's day gift. They are hanging on the patio looking like we are in full throes of spring ... I guess we are.

As women very often do we all discussed new hair cuts. Looking at this picture, I will be the first to do it -- tomorrow morning, I think, something shorter and younger looking.  The only one who doesn't want a new hair cut is Stella.  We are all delighted that her hair, scant thought it is (she's 3 and a half months old) is  becoming a chestnut color.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We've Come a Long Way, Baby!

My friend, Bev Sykes, from the Swap-bot site, posted the following advice that she found in a 1948 Singer Sewing Machine manual.

Prepare yourself mentally for sewing. Think about what you are going to do...Never approach sewing with a sigh or lackadaisically. Good results are diffcult when indifference predominates.

"Never try to sew with a sink full of dirty dishes or beds unmade. When there are urgent housekeeping chores, do these first so your mind is free to enjoy your sewing. When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible. Put on a clean dress. Keep a little bag full of French chalk near your sewing machine to dust your fingers at intervals. Have your hair in order, powder and lipstick put on. If you are constantly fearful that a visitor will drop in or your husband will come home, and you will not look neatly put together, you will not enjoy your sewing.

Remember, this is big business telling women not only how the machine works but how they are supposed to look and act.  I wonder how many of us do a lot of sewing with dirty dishes in the sink. How often do we have on lipstick and powder and perfect hair?   

Sunday, April 07, 2013

A Danddlion kind of moning

This wonderful quilt by the quilt artist Barbara Mckie caught my attention when I was looking for a picture I took last year of the golden glory of forsythia.  I realized this catches spring in a delightful way -- with the humor of the lions as well a the flower in its various stages  -- so familiar to all of us with lawns where the dandelions pop up seeming to smirk at us like that lion on the upper left.  Each of her lions has his own personality.  Isn't this fun?  I'm feeling inspired to take myself into the sewing and do something.  I need to make a small art quilt with a spring theme.  I wonder if I can borrow a little of this idea, twist it some way and surprise the person I will send it to.  Hmmm... I hope the sun continues to shine so brightly all day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Art Scrap Quilts, Pepper Cory

Pepper Cory was yesterday's speaker at the Bayberry Quilt Guild's meeting.  Her topic was "Art Scrap Quilts" -- a talk she's given a number of times and did fluently and humorously using eight or ten quilt tops (far easier to pack for plane travel than finished quilts) -- several antique and some yard sale discoveries.

This is a topic close to my heart because I think, for many, "every day" quilters who do not think of themselves as art quilters, making scrap quilts is, in fact, a creative and artistic process.  I always feel that way when making a scrap quilt, like the log cabin one I'm currenting making (see post below) Nearly every choice of a piece to add is an artistic decision.  With the log cabin quilt my parameters are light and dark -- and the little contrasting color squares are dug out of my stash each time I finish four blocks that will go together.  Most of my scrap quilts -- and a very large number of my quitls are in the "scrap" cagetory even when I'm using stuff from my stash that is not technically "scrap" -- i.e., I may be using fat quarters never before used.  But I save scraps from all projects and try to include them in later projects. 

Pepper is from North Carolina, works with several fabric companies designing  fabrics and designing stencils for quilts.  She was one of the most comfortable and likeable speakers I've heard lately.

Monday, March 25, 2013

An Age Old Sign of Spring

Ten day old lambs -- in this picture mama sheep has two twin, white daughters (one not in photo) and a pen-mate has two little boy lambs, one brown and one "apricott".

There's a "Farm", not a real working farm but one with special animals -- though not a petting zoo sort of place -- where Rachel and Cori often take the little boys.  I heard from someone who lives very near that lambs were born a few days ago.  Sunday was a chilly blue sky day so I went with them to the newborns.  Another two sheep are expected to have lambs any time now. 

The farm is also home to two very hairy donkeys, twos Shetland cows, Scottie and Fiona -- very long haired and beautifully horned -- a ram who fathered these lambs -- long thick wool -- a pair of goats, plus some chickens of a very fuffy sort.  They all seem to be breeds chosen for adaptation to the kind of winter we have. They have enclosed shelters but not really barns, and they have sectioned pastures.  The farm is at the edge of a marsh with a boardwalk to a viewing point where one would want to have binoculars for bird watching on a nice spring day.  I have no idea how this farm operates, we saw a woman and a man tending the animals, giving them buckets of food, late in the afternoon. The woman held a lamb up for the boys to touch and "baa" back to for a while.  No admission is charged.  One just parks and wanders around.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

First day of sring

The first day of spring, yesterday, this was what I saw when I looked out my window a little before dawn -- a white and gray world, a couple of inches of wet, fluffy snow clinging to the haphazzard branches of my little forsythia bush. I had noticed tiny tree leaves trying to open and thought: one nice warm day and that brush will be covered wit yellow flowers. 

Obviously spring is a bit delayed this year.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Another WIP - a woven quilt

I wove this "quilt" -- it will be a quilt although right now it's a weaving -- over the weekend.  Years ago a friend gave me a sizable bag of strips, most about one inch wide.  I don't know why she had them but she knows I am a fabric pack rat.  A couple of years ago I made first a couple of small quilts by weaving the strips, then adding batting and a backing and quilting.

That was a lot of fun so I made the quilt below using mostly the light fabrics with a bit of black for accent. It's about 30x30 and I've become very fond of it. And I kept thinking I would use more of that baggie of strips "some day."  Some day because Saturday and Sunday and I used mostly the brighter strips, plus I added a few more to balance out the design which evolved intuitively.  Obviously, lights then brights, then lights again with a bit of black at each end.  Simple and elementary. I love working intuitively.  And now what?

Now I must decide on a border treatment, what you can see that seems to be a bit of border is actually masking tape holding the finished pieces in place on the wrapping paper that I used on top of the table on which I worked.   This one, as you see, is longer than the first -- I have a spot in which I want to hang this. 

I will treat this one as I did the first, which is I hand quilted the woven part working diagonally and ending up wit a simple diamond pattern  Then I added the borders and machine quilted the light border. 

Sometimes I seem to be especially in the mood for starting quilts.  I've got the log cabin which is in the previous post, going and now this woven one.  And there is another ongoing very long term project that involves a lot of embroidery.  Always something of interest to do.  Absolutely never bored.