Monday, May 21, 2018

Busy, busy

It's been a busy week, and this coming one looks like it will be similarly busy.  Monday was our usual monthly library board meeting, and Tuesday the monthly quilt guild meeting.  Our speaker, Sharon, at the latter came from Bennington, 2.5 hours south of us, and because I know her slightly, I offered to have her spend the night rather than driving home late.  I was not on the May guild "team," but so many of their members couldn't come that I arrived early to help Sarah, Marty and Betty set up chairs and tables.  Then we all met Sharon for a quick dinner across the street from the church.

Sharon's program on mini quilts was amazing because she showed a seemingly endless array of minis she has made.  I estimate about 75 came out of her suitcase, and we spread them out on tables around the room.  I had made a mini for the paint chip challenge which was one part of the show and tell, too.  The colors I drew were royal blue, light blue, and lime green, and the night we drew the colors, a floral in the same colors happened to be on the "free" table.  I just had to use it.

After the program, Sharon came home with me and we had a great chat about all sorts of quilting things.  She isn't a fan of the Studio 180 approach to quilting (sew it bigger and cut it precisely using specialized rulers) either.   She shared some hints for paper piecing and gave me a nice schoolhouse pattern.  I do think I should make more minis but somehow my quilts always end up so large.

Later in the week, I worked on my "convergence" quilt, begun after the Ricky Tims Luminarium.  The top was hanging on the design wall, waiting to be sandwiched, and I noticed it was crooked.  So I cut the borders off and squared it up again.  Then I added a new border and quilted it Friday.  It looks good.  I finished sewing the binding down to the back on Saturday at my other, smaller guild meeting where we do handwork while chatting.  Very relaxing and often very informative.

Also on Friday, I started pin-basting a sampler quilt made of blocks from an exchange with an online group, Moda "Blockheads" weekly blocks, and other miscellaneous blocks.  There were so many colors in the blocks that I sashed them with a black print which has a green vine with red dots.  I have the binding all cut and ready to put on whenever I finish quilting.  But I took a couple of days basting because, when I use the bed in the guest room, I need to bend over and, thus, was taking care of my back.  It's only 62" x 72" so will end up a nice throw.

This week:  house cleaning! emergency library board meeting!  more quilting!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

These were last year's Mother's Day flowers from Chris.  It has been 36 years since I became a mother.  It seems like just yesterday.  I don't feel a whole lot older although I've travelled many a mile, figuratively speaking.  Chris was just 18 months when he and I moved into the "handywoman's special." 

When he was little, he drew pictures of me as he saw me - with a pony tail in sweat clothes - because after work and on weekends, I was taking down wallpaper, painting, cutting the grass, digging the garden, and doing other indoor/outdoor stuff.  Now he helps me with all that.  He's coming over today to wash the car.  Maybe I can persuade him to clean the garage, too?

We had some interesting times during Chris' childhood.  Some I'd rather forget, and some make me laugh.  Fooling around on the bus after camp, he had the misfortune of throwing someone's bathing trunks out the window.  (He was not the only boy who got in trouble that day.)  Then there was the wilderness camp a few summers later.  He wanted to go, but, riding over, he didn't want me to leave.  Yet when he met another Chris while settling into the cabin, he hardly knew I was leaving.  Both mothers walked back to the cars, still worried but happy they'd found each other.  

And then there was the summer he decided to become a vegetarian.  I have some nice ground beef defrosting because, thank goodness, he eventually gave that up.  Tofu pups just weren't that good.  Here's to mothers everywhere.  I'll try to call mine but know she's going to the opera Falstaff today.  At age 96, she is active, both mentally and physically, thank goodness!

Monday, May 7, 2018


These pretty pink and purple tulips are growing right next to the house in full sun.  Otherwise, it would be a few more weeks before they bloomed.  The daffodils out front, which are in the shade, are blooming, too, and the lilacs are budding.  Whoo hoo!  Yippee!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The "Luminarium"

 For the last two days, I have been immersed in Ricky Tims' quilt "Luminarium," and my head is spinning!  I came home with so many new ideas.  Some to try.  Some to think about.  Some to recognize as "not me."  The sessions went from 10:30 am to 7 pm on Thursday and from 8:30 am to 5 pm on Friday.  I was glad I took my lunch each day because I needed some time to sit quietly and read, gaze out over Lake Champlain, and basically decompress.  It was intense.

I was glad to drive over with Jane and Gracie and to see Pauline, Joan, and Sarah there.  They will be people to bounce ideas off of in the coming months as we all digest.  Here are a few of his quilts.  He dyes his own fabric, and they are beautiful.
The circles in this quilt were created using some of the special stitches on his machine and a circle making foot.  He uses a lot of piping along his borders which I find very near.  It's hard to see but there are squiggly lines of couching around the circles.  This is made with a "couching foot" - a circle of clear plastic that you run the yarn or thick thread through.

Ricky had a lot of short cuts that he offered as well as suggestions about other tools and products.  Of course, he had a "shopaterium" to go along with the workshop, and we had plenty of time to "graze."  Even though I swore I wasn't going to buy anything, I came home with two yards of hand dyed fabric, two spools of thread, and a DVD about quilting and other finishing techniques.

I love the way the light shines through the squares in this quilt, but what I really took it for was the quilting - free form squares.

And it's hard to tell, but the last photo has wonky borders and very thick machine embroidery stitching around the petals/leaves.

The last two quilts don't have bindings, but rather are finished with facings.  This gives them a clean, sharp look (sorry for the fuzziness - my phone's camera leaves something to be desired).

My quilting mojo is re-energized, but I need to finish a few UFOs before I dip back into the extensive book we received.  

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Don't really need another UFO!

I finished the orange and yellow guild "block robin" quilt yesterday, which leaves only one quilt left to be quilted in my closet.  My dilemma is whether to ask Marie to quilt it or to do it myself.  She is away for a few weeks, so I will leave it hanging for a while.  I still need to make a back for it anyway.

But naturally, as I've been quilting, I've been thinking about other projects.  Two quilting friends posted photos of samplers recently, and Moda's "Blockheads 2" begins in May.  All use 6" blocks.   I love making samplers and just can't stand to make the same block over and over for a full-sized quilt.
Patterns for the Blockheads quilt along were issued weekly and most were rather difficult.  I would put it away and then get it out again a week later or so which was a pain.  I picked my fabric at random, too, so it ended up being a bit of a hodge-podge mystery quilt.  Luckily, I found a black print to use as sashing that tied them all together.  Here's the quilt before I finished putting it together.

This time, I have shirtings received in a birthday fat quarter swap for a background for whatever sampler I decide to do.  I hope that will unify the blocks a bit.

I was intrigued by the blocks for The Splendid Sampler as I read Pat Sloan's blog regularly, but I was already doing Blockheads so didn't take the bait.  Then Karen in Ontario posted a photo of her lovely finished quilt.  I like the variety of blocks, so I ordered the book.  Splendid Sampler 2 is being published in October, but Sloan plans another quilt along to begin in the summer.  But it's another weekly surprise.

Leigh in Australia posted a photo of a sampler quilt she saw which was a daily block project made to commemorate a woman's 60th year.  Each day, the quilter designed or made a block that reflected her life that day.  It's a little like the weather scarf I knit a few years ago - just a couple rows of various blues, white, grays, all reflecting the sky that day.  But, after working on the 365 challenge a few years ago, I know I can't do a block a day.  I gave up after just three months because of the "get it out - put it away" aspects of it.  Sometimes I like to concentrate on a project and get it done. 

But I like the idea of making each block represent an aspect of my life, and I AM going to be 70 on July 31.  So... maybe I'll start my own sampler project on August 1.  It will probably be a mix of all of these ideas with perhaps some blocks from Just Plain Nuts besides!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Oatmeal-cranberry cookies

Today is a laundry and baking day.  I made two batches of scones and put them in the freezer.  According to the King Arthur Baking Book, scones are better frozen before baking.  But I just did it to get a jump on company coming this weekend. 

When I finished making the scones, I tried a new cookie recipe - those will be gone long before company arrives!  I liked including whole wheat flour and really couldn't tell.

Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease cookie sheets.

·                  3/4 cup softened butter
·                  1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
·                  1 egg
·                  1 teaspoon vanilla
·                  1/1/4 cups whole wheat flour
·                  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·                  1/4 teaspoon salt
·                  1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
·                  3/4 cup chopped almonds
·                  3/4 cup dried cranberries

1.               Cream butter and sugar until fluffy
2.               Beat in egg and vanilla  (I used my food processor for these two steps)
3.               Slowly add flour and dry ingredients into butter mixture. 
4.               Stir in rolled oats, almonds, and cranberries.
5.         Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls on prepared cookie sheets and flatten with a fork.
6.               Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are golden.
7.               Let stand on cookie sheet for 5 minutes prior to removing cookies to a rack.
Makes 24 cookies.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Finally, it's sunny!

We have had an endless stream of gloomy weather with snow showers this week.  While there's still a chilly wind, the sun makes the 40-some degree temperatures bearable.  And tomorrow's supposed to be even nicer.   We will be out walking, that's for sure.

I've been busy with the library booksale this weekend - selling yesterday and mostly on the clean up crew this afternoon.  I did pick up a few bargains, including a book about the TV series Downtown Abbey for my brother who's a great fan and a couple of Miss Julia books I'm not sure I've read yet.  I love that series.  It's extremely light - or shall I say lite? - but quite fun, perfect for a day at the beach or on the back porch.  If I have read those books, they'll go right back to the library for the summer book sale.

Two retired librarian friends, Penny and Anita, introduced me to another fun mystery series featuring a 70 year old Laotian coroner, and I'm enjoying it immensely due to the exotic locale and wry humor.  I don't know much about communist Laos, and Dr. Siri tells his story with tongue in cheek.   There's a touch of mysticism, too.  I've almost finished The Coroner's Lunch  and will be looking for more.

Tomorrow I hope to finish quilting the orange and yellow quilt so I can clean up my sewing room.  We have a house guest arriving Friday and a busy week ahead:  book discussion program at the library, dinner/theater with friends, the library board's Spring gala, and the historical society's Primo Maggio celebration.  It will be a fun whirlwind!