Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Little Quilt from Scraps

I've added a log cabin block on the header partly to remind me I want to make a log cabin quilt in the near future. It will be mostly dark and light blues as I have a LOT of smallish blue pieces I want to use up.

This quilt is small - it's draped over the sofa and one can't really tell the size from the photo. It's sbout 40x42, which is to say crib size.  I made it in the last two weeks. The half-square triangles were all scraps from a year of block swaps in which snowball blocks had bright colored corners. I saved the cut offs and sewed them into strings of two-inch block and saved them. So the difficulty of making the half-square pieces had been done.  I suppose this can be called a "Modern" quilt as it's bright with a lot white and a very simple design. I did quite a bit of machine quilting, especially the folded ribbon design in the white strips. It was a very satisfying little project. I'll give it to a child for a birthday present.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Another warm Christmas

A strange Christmas  photo for a strange Christmas eve day  (yes, that's the way it was described on the morning news, odd as it sounds)

These lovely red fruits, from a market in Guanshu, China (if I remember correctly) are a fruit that has its devotees but the fruit is banned by the big international hotels. They are durans. When fully ripe and cut open for eating the smell is a great deal, I'm told, like a latrine. But their fans say the taste is sweet and delicious.  It's an experience  I did not seek out.

The only thing this has to do with Christmas is that they're a pretty red and the day is as unusual, as the fruit is.  It's over 60 degrees here today.  It rained hard, about an inch and a half, and I have just returned from the nearest supermarket which has a large paved parking lot known on days like this as Star Market Lake. Their drainage system has always been bad, today was the worst I've ever seen it. The  available parking spaces were reduced by about 80% and, conscientious as I am, I parked in a handicapped space because there was nothing else where I wouldn't get my feet wet.

I don't have to talk about global warming. Last year Christmas and early January were unusually warm also. Then we got hit with record breaking blizzards in February. It's going to be this way, that is to say unusual and unpredictable, far into the future. An article I read last week about the plight of Miami Beach and the rising sea level was dire.  A lot of people are going to lose a lot of money. Extrapolating, because all the seas are going to rise, not just in that southern most American penisula, but up here. This northern peninsula, not in my live time I assume, but in what is the foreseeable future for those who are willing to take a serious look, disappearance is inevitable. At least we don't have a  mile of tombstone-like high rises  that will become accessible only by motor boat -- or gondola.

What cheery thoughts for a happy holiday!  Well, it feels nothing like the stereotypical holiday so my thoughts are not at all stereotypical.  We will have a festive dinner tonight and tomorrow will be a quiet day ....possibly with a long walk on the beach as Iwill take within the next hour today.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

On Display

This woven quilt -- the second large one I've done, (30"x42") is now on display at the Yarmouth Cultural Center here in Cape Cod.  They do many, many art shows a year in their converted bank building with a great central room and three little rooms in which to do smaller shows. To fill the center room for a couple of weeks they published an open call for art works by people of all ages, no show fee, and they encouraged people who do not ordinarily think of their work as art that will be displayed in public.  The wanted to know the decade in which the artist's age fell.  They will sell any quilts that have a price noted.

I thought it was a grand idea so I took this quilt on Tuesday. Along with all the other entries it was hung that evening and a reception was held last night -- the reception was also for three small art shows in the other rooms.  It was so well attended parking was a problem. I went and enjoyed seeing the variety of art.  I think there was a six-year old's crayon drawing. I remember a combined display of two pieces of art the same size, one by a seven-year old and the other by his 77-year old grandmother.  Although the quality of the art was not exceptional, there were several pieces by recognized local artists. Two other quilts were on display, both by people in my age group, both representational, one a "tide line" quilt -- quite nice -- and another of a huge butterfly, closely stipple quilted with the words "Hope is the thing with feathers."  Not only did I dislike the visually distracting quilting but a butterfly is NOT "the thing with feathers."  I am literal enough to be irked by that ... plus I have been working on a small fabric/quilt book with Emily Dickinson quotes including that one -- which will be illustrated with birds and an actual feather.

I was pleased they hung this quilt in a spot with good lighting. It has small beads on the squares (which are diamond quilted  as well); the beads catch th light very nicely.  If it should sell that would be fine.  Looking at it and at the autumn quilt I just finished which also has a woven background, makes me want to do a few more in different colors. I have the next one in mind ... but I have no idea when I can get around to it. It will be a spring quilt so I  hope I can do it by spring.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Autumn Quilt Finished

This is called Autumn of My Life with Double Self-Portraits.  One cannot be in the mid-70s without realizing it is the autumn of her life, even if she thinks there is a possibility of living to 100.  So this quilt was complex to make, as my life is now a complex of bright and wonderful elements. 

First I wove the background which I've left up on this blog too long, but that was because the making was more complex than I foresaw.  

I gathered -- and a friend also helped -- the leaves which I photocopied onto fabric.  I also found the full face portrait and Rachel took the profile picture.  The leaves, especially the big red maple leaves lost their brightness quickly and the computer's printer did not do a good job either with the color.  So I needed to rev up the color with Crayola pastels. I made many arrangements on the background - to which I added the brown batik as border and as backing

Then I realized, as I so often do, that an artistic weakness is my inability to visualize tone of color and what will blend into another, what will stand out. I thought the red leaves in the middle would be a visual draw, but instead they almost disappear into the brightness of the background.  But I can say that up close, their complex coloring and even the texture of the leaf is very interesting. I made a little trek across the street to take some small bright red leaeves from a bush I had been admiring. But they, too, refused to photocopy truly red, so I used a hot pink marker which also seemed to fade into the fabric. The yellows worked and I'm pleased that they are also complex with pinks touching them.  The green leaves include a purplish pink. All this complexity of both background and leaves is important to me metaphorically as a statement about the life I know which is complex and many colored, more than it ever has been in my life. 

The portraits are fused to the background but the leaves "float" held by the embroidered veins, with crewel wool, they are each fused to a solid color backing that gives them body.  When I finally had everything in its place it needed some final touches of color, so I was back to my Crayola boxes, especially to touch up the outside edges of the leaves and to add a bit of depth to the faces which had faded into ghosts -- totally inappropriate for the metaphor of the quilt. 

The whole is 24x24 -- and, also a usual fault of mine -- it is not precisely square, it is a bit askew -- that too is  part of the metaphorical (entirely unplanned and, I think, unavoidable) statement about my life as I know it this autumn ... which, by the way, is probably going to be one the warmest and loveliest (due to, alas!, global warming).

Sunday, November 01, 2015

The backgound

I wove this autumnal background for a quilt I'm making, it's to be a self-portrait. I think a portrait of myself in autumn is a truism. I actually love the colors here which I wove on my dining table with one-inch strips of mutlicolored batik fabrics. I'n so fond of it I almost resist adding prints of actual leaves and the self-portrait.  But I'm working on that.

We are  enjoying the most colorful autumn in the six - or is it seven? -- years I've lived on Cape Cod. A drive today, even without sun as we had yesterday when I took the new header photo of leaves, was a color delight and not so different from the colors in this piece of quilted weaving.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Little art quilt

The little Uncommon Threads group of which I've been a part only a few months, chose to make an art quilts 12x18 of "architecture".  My quilt is a slightly enlarged version of an "antique" quilt pattern, a free download, from the American Quilter's Society called "Nolan's Houses."

I wanted to make something like the houses one glimpses through the trees driving along almost any two- lane road on Cape Cod. I pulled out my scrap collection and used all kinds of colors. The majority of houses here, of course, are white or gray shingled, but these various colors do exist. I guess it should be considered something like poetic (artistic) license. Many do have colorful doors. 

The original pattern had a kind of Bauhaus rigidity but I think the colors undo most of that. The tree fabric for the stripping was a happy find in my stash. To me it gives the feeling of many of my drives through tree lined streets. On can rarely see an entire house facade because trees and shrubbery get in the way.  I suppose I would give myself no higher mark than C if this were a school project and I know the serious quilt police would find many problems. Happily an art quilt can ignore most of those rules.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Quiet Time

How I wish, sometimes, that I had an expensive camera with a long lens.  But I might not have got so many of the starlings in one picture and, honest, I kid you not, the wire continued on at least as far on either side and was covered with birds. I'm sorry it was a gray day but, in fact, that is exactly the color the sky was.  I was with my writing group when, to quote an inappropriate-season poem, "out o the lawn there arose such a clatter" -- should be "chatter" -- and we sprang from our seats to see what was the matter.  It was a migrating flock of starlings. 

In this area they are the only bird that migrates in large numbers. When I read about how pigeons used to fill the sky by the hundreds of thousands, I cannot imagine it, I can only remember the flocks of starlings like this.  Sometimes a flock will land on the lawn outside my apartment.  Not crowded together, if there are five hundred, it's possible for them to scatter over  the lawn. They seem to each grab a bite or two of something from the grass (surely there aren't that many bugs!) and then they lift off and move on.

It is a quiet time for me, I now have, usually, Mondays and Thursdays without appointments.  Lovely! This coming week Monday is a holiday, of course, but it will be a usual Monday for me.  I'm getting a lot of writing done -- a poem a week for my class for one thing.  And a recent one has been posted on a blog -- www.Duane' -- I hope it works for you. I doesn't always work for me.

Summer is definitely my favorite season, but autumn isn't far behind. At the moment I'm looking for a nice big red or gold leaf to copy in a quilt I am planning to make. I must take some walks in the neighborhood and perhaps around a near-by pond.  I'm sure I'll find what I need.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

October is here

These are berries I call "bitter sweet". Sometimes they are orange instead of yellow. They are abundant in October; these were on Long Beach where I have been walking all summer. But now it is October. Three days of relentless rain and gray skies, tells me summer has ended and autumn has come.  Autumn is a bittersweet season. 

Visually it is a burst of color that is magnificent, more so than the many flowers of summer, more so than the brilliant blue skies and long sunny days  of summer. Autumn is a season  and it is a metaphor.  I have just written a rather disjointed little piece about my experiences of autumn  -- starting with October visits to my mother when we would go for drives to view the leaves in all their glory.  They were wonderful in Southern Indiana but it was even more magnificent in Upstate New York where I lived at the time. the season is different in different parts of the country.  Famously beautiful in New England, upstate New York can't be equalled -- say I, in a chavinistic mood because I saw tidal waves of color on the hills in that area that surely cannot be equaled anywhere. I supposed that is arguable. 

Of course there is always the parallel, the metaphor, of the autumn of our lives. The ripe period of maturity which I feel I'm in now in my 70s.  I think of the excitement I felt at a gathering of a small group of art quilters the other day.  My own contribution nothing I want to brag about along side the fine art work of others.   It is what it is. The theme was architecture. My rather traditional quilt of buildings among the trees -- the way I experience driving many of the Cape Cod two-lane roads -- was perhaps less creative than others.  And less obviously metaphorical than the piece created by a woman whose husband died this past summer. She had pictured two of the iconic dune shacks of the outer Cape, one standing firm on it's dune and the other tipped, sliding away  at an angle beside it.  I did not remark on the meaning I saw immediately -- a woman still on her two feet even though the mate is sliding away.  This is art -- the kind of art that simply happens when the artist is in touch with her feelings.  I was very moved by that little quilt.  And I believe her perseverence is bitter sweet.  She is not  the only widow of this summer in whom I view a strength.  That is a part of the meaning of autumn.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Quilters See Quilts Everywhere

 A trip to Heritage Plantation in Sandwich, MA this morning show me and my two friends a new structure -- a circular-- with an opening , bench around a white oak tree.  This is the back, Miriam is standing just at the opening.  The blocks are made from the wood of another white oak tree.  How could I not think about a quilt?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

This was the grand prize winning quilt at the show.  I'm terribly sorry I don't have the quilters's name. She was an American.  I have been a student of Tibet for many years, have traveled there twice and recognize all the costumes and, of course, the Dalai Lama in the center -- I am SO glad that at least in this quilt he can go home again. What a sadness that he has had to live in exile for almost sixty years!  On the left  is the Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama's rightful home. It is a magnificent structure and, until the Eifel Tower was built, it was the tallest building in the world. When I studied the quilt I saw she had put in two versions of the Potala and I don't blame her. It's a building I stood and studied for a very long time, from different sides. Inside it is even more awesome, full of treasures (possibly some have been stolen but the maze of the nearly 1000 rooms is stunning.   

It was a shame that this large quilt with the faces individually drawn by the quilter, was hung in a spot with insufficient light.  I can't blame the many people who were standing in front of it in awe of the workmanship and not quite comprehending the many symbolic features of it. I wish I could have gotten a better photo.  The flag in the center of the lower border is the Tibetan national flag. When the Chinese Army invaded in 1959 they were invading a sovereign state although they claimed it was part of China (as it had been at times in the past). Today the country and especially Lhasa, its capital, has been turned into a Chinese city and the actual Tibetans are treated as second class citizens, jailed for the least praise of the Dalai Lama, rarely given good jobs. The independent herders in the countryside have been collectivized and made to live in towns and give up their way of life. During the period of the greatest repression, the Red Guard destroyed literally hundreds of monasteries, (ancient books have been lost forever) and hundreds of thousand of Tibetans were murdered. 

Today the Chinese rulers think the Dalai Lama wants to foment a revolution.  He has asked for years simply that the people be free to worship (as they are not - they can be jailed for having pictures of him). He does not want to fight the Chinese, he simply wants the people to be treated as the full citizens in their homeland with religious freedom. But that is routinely denied.  Last year there were over 100 self-immolations by desperate Tibetans making a statement about the extent of their repression.  I am enormously happy to see that someone is making a statement in our art form (quilting) and showing the people in their native costumes.  I hope this quilt has raised the undestanding and/or awareness of at least a few more people. I will add a couple of details from the quilt so you can see the work better.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sunset yoga on the beach

Deb teaches yoga at the gym my daughter belongs to.  She let it be known to her classes that she would be doing yoga on a nearby beach during July and August, beginning at 7:00 -- timed so that the sun would be setting at the end of the hour-long class.  No charge!

I went with my daughter for the first class although I haven't done yoga for ten years and knew I had lost both strength and stretch but not love of yoga. Only four students showed up the first evening. It happened to be a "blue moon" night when the sun was spreading gold and hot pink across the western sky, in east the moon was beginning it's climb.  I decided to make a quilt to give to Deb,  I had ideas that I couldn't execute but finally my daughter said my idea was not what she pictured and together we arrived at the idea for this quilt.  Strips from my collection of batiks, showing the sand in the middle with the ocean and sky behind, on the left a dune with grass and the  moon rising, and on the right a hint of the parking lot.  In the middle a practitioner doing the tree pose.  I gave it to her last night, which is the next to last session. She was happy with it.  In fact, I'm happy with it too.  So happy I'm considering making one for myself using narrower strips of fabric, probably again batik. Of course it wil be essentially different as I used up much of this  batik. I like the tree pose but last night during the workout I though the warrior pose would be just as good (athough not as vertical). 

Doing yoga, despite my inability to do what the much younger women are doing, has been wonderful. I think it's inspiring me to go back to the practice ans regain some of my competence -- when the weather turns a bit cooler. Right now it's hot and humid (but wonderfully fresh and cooler on the beach). Her students have multiplied and all enjoy the experience.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

International Quilts in Manchester, NH, August 2015

My daughters and I went to the International Quilt show in Manchester, NM Thursday (a Mancusco show). It had the best variety and most interesting collections of quilts I've seen there in the four or five years I've attended that show.  I took several photos of quilt that inspire me -- not the most wonderful and not a representative sampling but ones I may want to look back. However, my favorite is probably the one above because I know how difficult it is to make fabric look like stone, and to give it depth at the same time.  I think the quilter was brilliant and then had a stroke of genius when she added the cat, in the same colorations. I that took wit and great skill. I love it.
(I'm sorry I cannot give the maker's name and the name of the quilt. I took careful notes on the program listing so I could reference and credit where it was due.  then I left the program booklet in the restaurant where I had lunch. These skilled quilters deserve credit and I regret I can't give it.

The other two quilts are typical of the ones that impressed me with a sense of "I could do something like that too.  The long thin one (like many, especially among the quilts from Israel) uses colors with certainty and a delightful balance.  The circles add an important dimension especially at they are different colors and sizes and the quilter knew just when she had added enough. 

The other quilt is a little bit of a fascinating enigma.  Is it a village, or is it one house (as the lines that look like roof likes at the top suggest.  I love the seeming spontaneous colors in the pieced squares. And I love the uneven hem which adds a depth and interest a straight across hem would not give. All that sandy looking fabric in the bottom section calls to me for me a village in the Atlas Mountains, where there were no such wonderful colors.

I am truly sorry I cannot give name of maker and of quilt. I meant to, really, I did.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Bayberry quilt show

This weekend was the annual BAyberry Quilt show, as usual there were nearly 300 quilts, of various sizes.  I showed teh selvage quilt, Spiderwebs and Stars which I wrote about a few months ago. I like it but it wasn't spectacular.  And  I did a challenge quilt that is too awful to write about that will go into a seldom opened bag of small quilts. 

Opposite is the group exhibit -- our first group effort to make our own versions of the theme "chair". I wrote about my electric chair a few months ago. Next to it is Meredith's very modern chair quilt that I like a great deal, Elaine's Papa-san Japanese style chair, then Robin's chair seen from a kitten's eye view -- a concept that seems to me to say she is the one with the "real" artist's eye, then Betty's traditional chair of which only the  flower painted back and side is visible in a sea of floral wall paper and then Ro's big easy traditional overstuffed chair. 
The sign at the bottom says who we are.  I think this is a nice start for a very informal group that does not meet often.  Others may join the group over the coming months. Betty is planning to move away to Arizona. It's a start at the kind of group that can inspire one another to reach for designs that stretch our abilities and imaginations.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

What I'm Working On

Obviously a work in progress, just the top. What could be simpler than a cherkerboard?  Oh, but sewing all those little two inch squares together?  Well, yes and no. I did sew them all together but not one by one. There's a quicker and easier method. I won't try to explain but lots of how-to books show you. 

Early this month I went to a garage sale of fabric (calling it a "yard" sale is a pun, really, there were many yards of fabric and many quarter yards and many pieces of various sizes). Lots of pieces had been crammed into gallon baggies. One of those contained many strips cut 2-1/2 inches wide and many. many of them were navy with small white print, some were white with navy prints.  Maybe Betty, whose sale it was, (she's moving and destashing) was going to make a quilt something like this. I don't know. I had to add some whites of my own and of course the red border. 

This has a backing (red, white and blue, of course) but it won't be finished until the weather turns cooler. Summer is a time, for me, for making tops not for dealing with three-layer quilts on my lap as I sew.  Given all the very fancy designs I see in the magazines, something about the simplicity of this checkerboard is very soothing to me. Should I call it a "modern" quilt?  It seems about as far from modern as possible but maybe it's simplicity would put it in that category.

Friday, July 10, 2015


I think the hanging plants on either side of my mini patio (mother's day gifts) are called dendronia. This photo was taken this morning after a very refreshing shower. Our weather has been so variable one doesn't know what to expect from day to day. Today is very lovely now.

I keep forgetting to take my camera. With a small group, I had tour through an historic house -- really three that have been amalgamated as one for a long time. One was started in 1690 and added to not long after. Another was brought over from Nantucket "on the ice" the owner said. That is mind boggling. Nantucket is a good 15 or 20 miles across open water. A third house was  build in 1750 and when it was moved from somewhere to become the back part of the extant house, I don't remember.  The outsides were original, the insides kept the fireplaces (in every room) and floors but much else was different, which is not to say it's all new. The house was surrounded by an informal and somewhat densely planted lawn -- so much so (and it was such a warm day) that the mosquitoes came out and attacked.

The wonderful thing is that Rte. 6A on the northside of the Cape is lined with houses or every vintage, all different from one another, some very grand (and they are mostly B&Bs or institutional, with art galleries.  But many modest houses, probably others this old too, most not so old, few are very new and new ones have been designed to fit in.  Strict zoning rules keeps commerical signage  away and means that some commercial buildings are actually hidden behind others -- which was true of "Jack's Outback" which is a breakfast and lunch place behind other commercial buildings that I didn't know existed until I was led there yesterday.  It's a very curvey two-lane road where floral plantings are always a delight and where all Christmas lights must be white.  I love it and drive it often.  There are still many, many surprises, I'm sure.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

One done, one to go

I've been working on this spiderweb selvage quilt about three months. I've quilted it heavily as well as having used up a good percentage of my selvages making it.  The colors aren't quite true, they are more vivid.  I was inspired by a quilt I saw on Karen Griska's website, The Sevage Blog (it's in the sidebar here)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Crafts on the Village Green

As usually the tourist season was kicked off with a craft fair on the village (Hyannis, MA) today and it was as wonderful day for it. The crafts were the usual, pottery, paintings, jewelry, glass work, etc. For anyone looking for a Cape Cod souvenir, it was the place to shop -- although all of Main Street offers wonderful, clever things.  The newbie in the show was a man from Panama with shoes made of the Panamanian craft called Mole, layered a fabric cut to reveal wonderful patterns. He had shoes and boots and some purses. They were colorful and wonderful. A tad pricey.

We didn't know we would run into Rachel's daughter, Cory, and her family --husband and all three of my great-grandchildren. The picture is of the youngest two, Stella and Cole, standing near a bench recently painted by a local artist who has been leaving her mark downtown on benches, sign posts, fire hydrants, in these colors but mostly with more intricate designs.

It was a nice long walk, topped off with gellato at a place that makes their own in amazing flavors. What a good way to welcome summer!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Wonderful House and Garden

A two acre backyard is unusual in any suburban home but that's what a small group of friends were shown this week.  Nancy, who is pictured here, does all the gardening herself. The garden and house are her creative project. She has arranged many nooks and surprises in the garden, often a plaster or iron bunny will be found almost hidden in a shrub. Often there is a chair or bench inviting a visitor to  sit and contemplate the peaceful surrounding or take a book and read all afternoon. There is a lovely little koi pond. The picture shows Nancy with one of her two tiny terriers standing because a seahorse swing made entirely of old tires and purchased from Carly Simon's store in Martha's Vineyard.

We lunched under a  wide pergola covered with grape vines (and incipient grapes -but, no, she does not make her own wine). And we walked through what is really two houses, one a former stable now office for her husband, craft room (for jewelry making in the snowy weather), possible guest suite, and the main house, once, probably the caretaker's home on an estate now cut up by developers -- it had small rooms, low ceilings, steep stairs, many fireplaces and  was full of antique shop finds atop floors all  hand refinished by Nancy. The house and garden has been photographed for regional magazines. It is unique largely because of her consistent attention but also because one expects a grand house with many formal rooms on such a property, but this was a cozy pair of houses with small crowded but entirely inviting room --every chair and sofa  looked sat in! A place she and her husband obviously enjoyed living.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Spring moving toward Summer

We've had a week of unusually cool weather. The weatherman said "welcome to fall, we had our three weeks of summer," yesterday when he spoke of 40F at 6:00 a.m.  But of course it warmed -- when I got in my car to go to a meeting the inside was so toasty I opened the window  widely. 

As always I love driving Rte. 6A, the old carriage road that is two lanes and so curvy there is no place to pass in 10 miles  and the speed limit is mostly 35 mph. I have time to admire the flowers.  Many homes are at least 50 years old, some much older, others newer -- but not very, very new. They have had time for flowering trees to mature. There were huge rhododendrons and lilacs and smaler azeleas in bloom. The road is always a visual feast  as the colors change with the season.

My informal group of women writers meet at the seasonal restaruant, called The Chat House which has a room with a big table around which we sit on cool days. We are waiting impatiently for warmer mornings when we will sit on the patio under a pergola with trumpet vines covering it. Never in my earlier years would I have imagined I'd have mornings like yesterday, beauty, friends, much laughter, good coffee and cinnamon roll. When people do writing to group prompts (ours was "epiphany"), I think most especially if it's a group of women, lives and personalities are revealed in a way that doesn't happen in casual conversation. We each have looked into our past (and we're all over 60 so we have plenty of past to look into) and write about something meaningful.

This kind of in-depth personal understanding happens in my writing class and other writing classes and in the poetry class as well. There's a rule spoken sometimes, but mostly unspoken: what's said in this room stays in this room.  Sometimes and sometimes not - regard for others precludes any gossip but rarely is anything salatious revealed, instead it's usually depth of experience and learning that only mature people have accomplished and that most of us share in our own ways.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Incredible Quilter

This is one of many quilts I saw today as Sharon Schamber talked to the Bayberry Guild about her work.  She became fascinated by Crazy Horse and designed this quilt. She has several quilts with people but the majority of her quilts are "quilty" -- designed in the tradition we are used to seeing.  Lots of flowers and embellishments.

Sharon was a comfortable and fascinating speaker, she didn't hesitate to take questions and comments from the audience. She has won  Best of Show in Houston 3 times (more than anyone else) and has a host of other very important recognitions. She talked about her techniques for applique, piecing, embroidery and border finishing, and her "focused" (obsessive, one might say) work on her quilts, 12 to 14 hours a day, 7 days a week unless traveling and teaching, I became convinced that she is probably the best, or certainly one of the very best, quilters in America ... as craftsperson.  Google blocks me from showing some of her more traditional quilts.  

She openly says she has a form of Aseprgers' diease which accounts for the "focus" and that she is badly dyslexic and, more amazing, she has an "essemtial tremor" which makes hand quilting and applique difficult. Her attitude is very positive and very certain but entirely without abrasiveness. I was extremely impressed. We do not often have speakers of this caliber ... but then there are very few quilters of her caliber either.  It was a pleasure to hear her.

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Giant Fell

I have seen damage done to the beach where I like to walk but this morning my daughter and I took advantage of a lovely spring morning and walked in a conservation area we do not visit very often.  The area was once farms. There are a few paths in the woods with old stone fences along stretches of them.  In one area we saw strangling, uncared for rhododendrons in flower, some purple and some pink. We also honey suckle -- if you notice the header, that photo was taken this morning -- some tiny flowers, many large leafed skunk cabbages and ferns. Along the path were a few piles of brush that had clearly been cut down by people clearing the path. Then we came to this giant, a grand old tree well over 20 feet tall. It had a root ball higher than our heads. The roots seemed to have been snapped off not far below the earth, perhaps at a frost line. I've rarely seen such large trees down. When the tree fell in the forest, there must have been denned up animals and crouching birds that heard it fall.  Did Bishop Berkeley think only people care about the woods?

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Chair Challenge

The "Uncommon Threads" Group which recently invited me to join proposed a first challenge:  12x12 inch block on the subject of Chair.  Maybe it's a bit perverse of me but I immediatly thought of "The Chair" and created the block you see.  I also did a little bit of research and wrote the following poem which is on the back. I know no one is likely to see it but then I know that most people really don't want to think about the subject of The Chair. Likewise I added to the front some simple facts about The Chair, printed in size 10 font and added to the white strips. These are a bit hard to read, again on the assumption that, in fact people don't really want to know. 

Need I add that other people have more expected chairs on their blocks?  Only one was finished at our meeting. A couple were more traditional depictions of chairs and a couple were somewhat abstract or "artistic".  All five will be shown together as one exhibit at the Bayberry show in August.

Edison vs Westinghouse

“The French have their guillotines,”
said Tom. “So bloody. So ugly.”
“The English have their chopping blocks,”
said George, “So medieval, so evil.”
“Firing squads are not sure fire
And hangings are primitive and pioneer,”
Tom and George agreed.
“The world is changing, yes indeed,
in every way, we have electricity today.”

Both set to work, each designed a chair,
dependably fatal and bloodless anywhere.
 Tom patented his invention first in 1888.
“Well,” said George. “I’ll sell more bulbs,
appliances too, just you wait.”
From 1890 to today, twelve long decades
“The Chair,” was the nightmare of death row,
emptying prisons and murderers and traitors.
For twelve long decades, in US prisons,
“Old Sparky,” or “Smoky” held sway
but lethal injection is mostly used today.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spring Imperative

April is National Poetry Month and I have not put any poems on this blog, some are on my Big 7-0 blog.  Mostly I have been writing poems. Here is a very recent one - not about this morning, but this morning the same thing happened.

At 3:30 -- believe it! --
Birds were loud.
Not a hint of dawn
for a full hour, yet
they were full throat
into their mating calls!
I pushed myself up
onto an elbow to squint
at the red LED number.
So long and hard has the winter
been they must be desperate
to recoup and preserve
their species.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Barbie Project

 I'm calling this the Barbie Project.  Lynn, the woman hiding behind the bird cage (there's a feathered Barbie in the  cage) was gifted -- reason a mystery-- 32 naked Barbies. She asked our group which does various sort of crafts and creative things to each take a Barbie and "do something" There were seven of us -- three didn't get into the photo. But we all followed the directive and dressed (or didn't -- in the case of the Barbie sitting in a tub of bubble bath). Perhaps I will add the other Barbies  tomorrow. Tonight I haven't time to write much or add more photos.  The Barbie in turquoise tulle is a "Spirit of Spring" Barbie.

The Barbie below spring in my Barbie who has gained 50 pounds now that she's 56 years old (she is wearing an "invisible fat suit" hidden by the house coat I made for her.  She's had a not at all good hair cut and her hair has turned gray.  I'll explain the other Barbies in another post. But I'll say that Beverly --in gray sweater and hat -- wrote a monolog for a Barbie who spent her money on cosmetic surgery and I wrote a monolog for a Barbie who has come into self-confidence now that she's over 50.  But she still seeks her fortune and fame at the hands of a powerful man. She does lip service to feminism but doesn't, in her heart of heart, choose to be a fully realized person.   I am thinking that there is more to this story.  I will write about the other Barbie transformations tomorrow.

In the photo are Lynn, Beverly, Helen and Miriam.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Started something new, having fun

I saw a selvage quilt like this on the Selvage Blog (see side bar here and scroll down a few days). It had a red center star but when I got the selvage triangles sewn I saw a scrap of blue on the table, so I used it. And liked it and pulled out a few other blues and light purples.  The design will be a spider web of selvages when several blocks are put together. 

The block Karen showed on her blog was in process so I could see how it was put together. I made my own template out of cardboard after making a careful drawing of the block on some cheap paper. To my delight the template was right (added 1/4 inch for seams).  Putting the block together was a bit of a puzzle, it's done in halves which are triangles, instead of the usual block within a block method.  A tad harder than usual because of the biases but not difficult.

I love working with selvages.  For these I used drier sheets as foundations, a favorite foundation not only for the sake of frugality but the residual bit of perfume.  I'm not sure how large the final quilt will be, probably not bed size unless I just can't stop sewing selvages. I find it very fun to work with them and I like the idea of stars in these various shades of blue and purple.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Woe is Me

This my sewing room in a normal state of mess. The photo is from more or less a year ago. The quilt on the wall has been finished, shown at our guild show and I just took it down from a six-week display in the lobby-gallery at the Academy of Lifelong Learning.  On the floor is a quilt (hiding the  dhrui rug) that was given to the guild's Quilt Bank, which backed and tied it and gave it to a vet (as they do donated red, white and blue quilts).  The bed is always a catch-all, no apologies. Often the pink covered ironing board is stashed in a closet. The picture of Rachel and Finn is well loved failure in portrait quilting -- from this distance that's not so obvious but, trust me, it's very obvious closer up. 

I moan "woe is me" because missing at the moment and for probably a few more days, is the sewing machine. It had an undisclosed illness. I could tell it was not the motor but something in the thread-feed system so I took it to the one and only place on Cape Cod that has a regular repairman. That was last Tuesday. As of yesterday I'm told it was on the repairman's table "taken apart" which can only mean he's waiting for a part. I am bereft, as if a good friend who stops to chat for an hour or two a day has gone to Florida to escape the cold. I don't know when it'll come home. Not that there aren't plenty of interests  to keep me busy but I like a little sewing time. Ah well, it will return.

This post has nothing to do with the weather except that while I sit here bereft, I see on the lawn the first robin of this season. He seems perky taking little dashes across the brown, but greening, grass that is surrounded by melting snow.   I guess the moral to this is not to become fixated on the absences in our life; notice the serendipitous simultaneities and be glad it's another morning with a promising day ahead.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A bit late, but the weatherman doesn't know that

but the snow lingers on.  Stella's red
umbrella is little protection.  Baby!
it's cold outside.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Working on It

I haven't posted anything for a while but I am working on this flying geese quilt.  It's on the design wall, as is obvious.  Actually I got it all put together yesterday and it is now on my sewing room floor. I've decided I need another row or two on the bottom and then a six inch royal blue border. 

Making the geese has left me with a pile of cut off triangle sets that I will sew into half-squares and turn into another quilt. It's already planned. In fact the flying geese were inspired by Leisure Arts' book Devoted to Scraps (best of Quiltmaker) although the arrangement is all my own doing. But the next quilt in the books uses the half-squares in a Rail Fence pattern which I will do. These are super simple quilts and are satisfyingly quick and easy when I'm suffering increasing bouts of cabin fever here where the snow just doesn't know it's time to stop and let the crocuses start their pilgrimage up to the sun.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Wonderful to have flowers in the dead of winter

This gorgeous  star gazer lily is part of a big bouquet I was given ten days ago.  There were beautiful white tulips which did not last beyond 5 or 6 days -- they just quiety dropped all their petals on the table.  But the bouquet contained several stems of lilies with unopened buds. The first open lilies are gone. This is one of the second flowering. I think I may be lucky enough to enjoy a third flowering. What a pleasure when it is white and cold and wet outside to have such color to look at on my dining table!

They were given to me at the launch party for Reflections, the anthology by and for members of the Academy of Lifelong Learning. With a committee of six, all well versed in grammar, punctuation and good writing, I spent some nine months -- yes, a normal gestation period -- editing and then arranging, adding illustrations to the work of 47 people, poetry, nonfiction and fiction as well as some photography.  The work is indeed a "reflection" of the experiences, concerns and thoughts of our population of senior course coordinators and students. It's been a pleasure for me to work on the anthologies for the past four years.   The books are handsome and very readable.  I'm feeling rather proud.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Honesty -- yes! Honestly.

Back when pasmina scarves were beginning to be in style -- I mean the real thing, not some thin synthetic imitation -- I was in Kathmandu and purchased two, one red, one a soft aqua. I bargained for them and finally paid $40 each. Back home they were selling in posh stores for $200 and up.  This was about 12 years ago, imitations are rife, but they are not as warm or as plush. I have enjoyed those scarves greatly, they are matched only by a black alpaca scarf I purchased in Cusco, Peru which is somewhat warmer. I believe it was also $40. 

It's cold here on Cape Cod in this brief hiatus between unprecedented blizzards. I have been wearing my warm scarves and enjoying them. Wednesday I wore the aqua scarf to an event at Cape Cod College, hung it on a hanger with my coat and earmufs. I was both the organizer and the speaker at that event, my nervous tension was about as high as it gets and I basked in some very welcome compliments.  I was distracted at the end of the event, had to straighten the room, return coffee pot and other items to another building. I put on coat and earmuffs and didn't think about the scarf for three or four hours. Then I realized I didn't have it. That was Wednesday evening. I was very busy with a grathering at my house and then a class (not at the college campus) in the afternoon. The scarf floated in and out of my attention. I had had it for a good number of years, I had enjoyed it, I had other scaves, I was not sentimentally attached to it. But it's a lovely scarf, I would miss it.

Today I was on the campus. The scarf was not in a lost-and-found  but I wondered if it could possibly still be on the rack where it had been left. I went to that building -- lo and behold! There it was, hanging just where I left it. Could  the students here be exceptionally honest?  I think they are. And I think they are also unsophisticated, no one recognized that this was, indeed, a very fine scarf. After well over 25 years living in NYC, I can only think finding my scarf just where I left it, is an  exceptional indication of a combination of honesty and lack of greed as well as fashion ignorance. I am happily reunited with my aqua scarf. And I have washed ashore in an exceptional community.

Friday, February 06, 2015

No plan, what am I doing?

 The pile of assorted purple scraps is dwindling as I make square-in-square pieces from it and add them to the growing pattern on my design wall.  I've seen art quilts made a similar way, I remember an all green one and a few that are yellows and reds. Some were made by Carol Taylor.  I liked what I saw and I've been thinking about doing something of the sort.  So that's what I've been doing. They are not all the same size and I'm not sure how I'm going to sew them together. I'm not sure how big the piece will become. For the moment it's a little like doodling. 

There are any number of more usual patchwork block quilts I'm thinking of making, some in the "Modern" vein, especially since I seem to have accumulated a lot of white that I could use in modern quilts.  But for now this improvazational method is working for me. And I'm wondering: what next?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Quilt made to be a table cloths

This "modern" quilt was  inspired by Thomas Kearns in his book about modern quilting.  His background was white and he had more circles, but then it was bigger too.  This was made to be  a table "throw" or table cloth and is now on my table. I really like the backing fabric.

What does "modern" mean?  Lots of things if you go through the literature about it.  In most cases it means quite a lot of negative space and relatively uncomplicated patchwork pattern. Often it also means plain fabrics, not prints. However the possibilities are enormous. To me the negative space and the general "Unfussyness" is appealling after looking in the quilt magazines I receive, especially those with quilts that win prizes in the big shows, which are usually complex to the point of being rococco -- although usually very lovely and beautifully quilted.  I think I'm on a bit of a modern kick although I have two not-Modern quilts started. My mind keeps going to modern designs I've seen lately.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The ABC quilt

The alphabet panel with Dr. Seuss illustrations for each letter was a purchase at the Quilter's Gathering show in November. I finished it in time to be a Christmas present for "the kids"-- my three great-grandchildren: Finn, 4, Cole, 3 and Stella 2 in ten days. I wasn't sure whether it would be another  "ho-hum, Grand and her quirks". It was brought from a bedroom so I could photograph it last night and then it was spread on the living room floor. Then a 15 minute session of "can you find B" etc. followed. Both Finn and Cole know all the alphabet and the only problem with finding letters was that sometimes Stella was laying on top of it.

And then Rachel pointed out -- as I had not noticed -- that the alphabet her ends with WXZY.  Well, what can I say? I really have no fear that it's going to fatally mess up their way of saying the alphabet when they get to school

I was happy that they had used the quilt the way it was intended. I read in the current New Yorker magazine about the Mayor of Providence, RI who has instituted a plan to encourage lower income families to talk more to their children because studies showed that the children know many fewer words when they get to kindergarten than kids from more affluent families and it seems to be because the parents converse less with their children and that parental interactions are more likely to be utilitarian and often negative, "don't do that.  Stop shouting," etc. Rarely are the childred read to and they spend more time in front of the TV. 

These children have been read to and talked to almost from day one. They will arrive at kindergarten with large vocabularies -- and probably not thinking the alphabet song ends with WXZY.