Monday, June 28, 2010

Riding on a VQF high

I look forward to the Vermont Quilt Festival every year and, although I was sorry it moved to the Burlington area from nearby Northfield a few years ago, I do love the spacious new, aicronditioned facilities. Thursday, I took two classes with Cindy Erickson of Omaha. I had signed up for a class with Gail Garber, but it was cancelled at the last minute. So I ended up taking "Rotary Tips and Tricks" in the morning. It was a bit of review for me, but I did learn a few things and Cindy was really fun and easy going. We discussed whether or not to pre-wash fabric, when to change needles and rotary cutter blades, etc. Cindy showed us how to tape templates on the bottom of our rulers and turn them so we wouldn't have to draw around them and cut. I'm going to try this with diamonds in particular.

I had signed up for Cindy's afternoon class about settings. She had Powerpoint slides with a host of examples and then showed a pile of quilts and tops. She now cuts and sews cornerstones on separately in order to be more accurate and allow some easing of blocks if necessary. I tried that when I got home, and it does work.

Cindy had encouraged us to bring in batches of blocks for us to "play" with, so I brought the 70 or so Sylvia's Bridal Sampler blocks I have made. I would like to move on and work on something else, but I also want to put these varied blocks together. Cindy suggested that with a lot of disparate blocks, a simple setting may be the most effective. Here we are moving the blocks around. Arranging the blocks in a rainbow fashion with matching sashing and cornerstones seemed best. The beige fabric I bought for sashing seemed uninteresting that I will probably just use it as a background for other quilt blocks, or maybe even the back. This was a really fun class.

When I got home Thurs. night, all I could think about was arranging those blocks, which I did... endlessly. The next day, Polly and I went back to the quilt show to see the various exhibits and shop the vendors. I made a bee-line for the batik and hand-dyed fabrics and got some "gradations" from SewBatik as well as two packets of various hand-dyes. When I got home that afternoon, I did a final layout and started auditioning sashing. Saturday, I made a few more blocks to fit, color-wise, into the blank spaces. Today I washed the batiks so I can get busy cutting soon. Can't wait!

Saturday afternoon, Paul and I went back over to St. Michael's College to see the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee which was lots of fun. We had a delicious dinner when we got back to Barre at Lucia's - filet mignon with eclairs for dessert. We are hoping to get to two more plays at St. Mike's Playhouse this summer.

Sunday morning, we handled the Barre Historical Society booth at the Vermont History Expo at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds. It was fun chatting with people with roots in Barre and also looking at the other societies' booths. Later in the day, I made my fourth trip over to Burlington in as many days to pick up my 1930's Baby Jane that was in the special Treasures of the Green Mountains exhibit at VQF.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Reading, knitting, quilting

I never mind rainy or snowy days because they present good excuses for my favorite activities - reading, knitting, quilting, and shopping (although central Vermont doesn't have many opportunities for the latter). But yesterday, it was a lovely summer day and I did a little of everything, too. Paul visited a luthier in the afternoon and declared it had been a perfect day. I agreed.

Mad River Quilts was having a sale, so I drove down to Waitsfield and indulged in a little "Vitamin Q," shopping mostly for boy-oriented fabric. Lisa was selling half-yard cuts for $2 and whole yard cuts for $4, so I got a few to make quilts for Camp Agape. These quilts are oddly sized, 39" x 75". This will be my summer project after I finish quilting the moose quilt and the quilts I'm giving to the Vermont Charity Quilt Auction. One of the latter is waiting to have its binding sewn down while the other two log cabins need to be quilted.

I knit a little on my periwinkle scarf but I am finding the flame pattern very annoying. I have to keep reading the directions on every other row and, even then, I make mistakes. The flames are certainly not in line and every once in a while I find I have added a stitch. Ugh! It's not relaxing and I wonder if I should (a) rip it out and start over with a new pattern or (b) keep at it.

I was happy to see Sarah Addison Allen's latest book on the "new" shelf at the library the other night. The Girl Who Chased the Moon has Allen's usual magical elements and tells the story of a teenage girl and a young woman who both are trying to find their places in the world. It has the usual quirky southern characters that I enjoyed in Allen's other two books, Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen. These aren't "heavy" books with a message but are light, quick reads for enjoyment.

These are truly the "dog days" of summer - we had potato salad and roasted vegetable panini for dinner!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Among the Moose"

I've been spending a little time each morning and afternoon quilting the throw I mentioned, a wedding present for friends. It's really fun although I'm still not sure what I'll do when it's time to do the four cream center squares. So far, I'm just going around the red shapes and the brown border. I was thinking names, date, place but we'll have to see how I feel when I get there.

Yesterday, I also started knitting a lacy periwinkle scarf. It's another complicated pattern so I have to look at the directions on every other row. Eventually, I hope I find a rhythm and won't have to look so often, just as I did with the pink scarf. Both of these are slim and long, to be wound around the neck twice. This one is bamboo, so it's really soft. I thought I would give Sandy some yarn and the same pattern for her birthday. I downloaded the pattern from Knitpicks which is a great source for yarn and patterns. It's a gloomy day today - perfect for quilting, knitting, and finishing up a good mystery. The house needs vaccuuming - maybe tomorrow!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ready to quilt

I've been working feverishly on a quilt to give friends who are getting married this summer. It all started when I decided to make them a set of place mats. I made a few blocks and liked them, so got carried away. I ran down to Dee's shop and bought a few more fat quarters and other things. I already had 2 yards of brown "Dimples" fabric I used for the border. The "placemats" are all set together in a 60" x 60" square now!

The rest of the brown has been cut and pieced into binding. I love "Dimples" by Gail Kessler because that line blends with just about everything. The warm brown has darker brown/black polka dots.

I put the sandwich together yesterday and quilted one small section. Today, I'll start quilting in earnest, but I plan to take my time as I did with Evelyn's quilt last summer. I get sloppy if I hurry, and I have more than a month to finish. This must be the summr for weddings. Paul and I are going to one next weekend, Chris is going to one July 3, and we have another to attend mid-summer. Chris and I are going to shopping for something for him to wear this week.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

High tea at the Brown Palace

While on vacation in the Denver area, we celebrated my mother's 88th birthday a little early with high tea at the Brown Palace Hotel. We asked our waitress to take our photo afterwards. Don't we look contented? Mom, Dad, and Paul ordered the "standard" tea while I ordered the "chocolate lovers" one. Jenny had a special gluten-free tea with fruits, an assortment of sorbets, shrimps, and humus-stuffed celery. Hers looked almost better than ours. Our three tiers included two kinds of scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, assorted tea sandwiches (cucumber, roast beef, and turkey), and little pastries. There were some yummy chocolate macaroons that I will try to find a recipe for, as well as chocolate cups stuffed with flavored creams and petit fours. Tea was at 3 pm, so we didn't eat dinner later - just snacked around 8 pm. It was an elegant and fun end to a nice week.

Georgetown Loop Railroad

We're back from a quick (one week) trip to Colorado to visit my parents and sister. Last Thurs., we took Mom on a trip to Central City and to Georgetown, about 45 min. west of Golden, to ride a restored mining railroad to the tiny town of Silver Plume. From station to station, it's only about a mile, but due to the loop and curves, it's 3.1 miles via the narrow gauge train. The railroad doubles back on itself in order to have a gradual rise in elevation. There was snow visible on the mountain tops. We went over a very tall iron bridge in the process. Even though we were in a covered railroad car, it was rather chilly and we regretted that we'd left our sweaters in the car.

There are two trains running between the stations, and each stops in the middle to pick off/drop off visitors to the restored Lebanon Silver Mine. We didn't opt to take that tour, having seen a few other mines in our day (and being a little chilly). Here's the other train coming our way. Our conductor, Willie, got off to work the switches.

The stop in Silver Plume offered a gift shop and a museum of older railroad cars. The one marked "sleeper" had wooden siding and a bunch of roll-away cots. Not my idea of comfort!

It was a really fun excursion. Afterwards, we went into Georgetown (population 1,000) for lunch at an Italian bistro and did a little shopping in some very nice gift shops.

Central City, where we stopped before going to Georgetown, is a cute town, too, having seen a boom during the gold rush when the population was 30,000. It now has a population of 450, but many of the restored historic buildings are populated by "one-armed bandits." Neighboring Black Hawk has more casinos, but the center piece of Central City is thankfully still the Opera House where I saw "Tosca" several years ago with my parents and Tante Willy.