Saturday, December 31, 2011

No resolutions

Everywhere I look in the last few days, there are ruminations and directives about making resolutions for the new year. Last year, I resolved to eat more fruit, and I have pretty much stuck to that. In the fall, I bought a treadmill, and I try to walk a mile at least five times a week. On the days when I don't walk, I vaccuum. I ought to go to the gym more, since I'm paying, but I ought to do lots of things!

At this year's end, quilters are especially good at exhorting themselves to de-clutter, de-stash, finish UFOs, and more. We have such visible evidence of things we ought to do. I have only one quilt top, the Winding Ways one, in the closet waiting to be quilted or added to. I'm still deciding. I do have a sweater I finished knitting this past winter that needs to be put together. I have two sets of blocks that will be put together this winter - 25 Christmas stars (need to find some nice sashing fabric) and a bunch of Amish blocks made by members of one of my guilds. The Amish quilt will be raffled off in the spring/summer for the library. Those are my UFOs, and I have several works in progress. I can't beat myself up about them really. I've gotten pretty good at throwing scraps away or putting stuff I don't want on the guild "free" table.

As this year draws to a close, I note that I finished quite a few projects, gave many away, and helped quite a few people with this or that, in ways large and small. Family and friends are all doing reasonably well, and we are snug here in our house on the hill. My hopes for the new year: a cleaner environment, smarter and nicer politicians, peace for all, and plenty of good reading!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Civil War quilt #2 for 2011

By the time I finish this, it will be 2012. :-) Over the last few days, I've been putting together the Barbara Brackman blocks of the week and the Virtual Bee blocks of the week I've been making in Civil War fabrics. Yesterday, I pieced a back using reject and orphan blocks as well as some fabrics I know I will never use again. The result is about 64" x 64", a good-sized throw. I pin-basted it and started quilting today but am taking it easy. It's fun to look at the blocks again as I quilt them.

Christmas 2011

We had a very nice Christmas! Dinner on Christmas eve with Polly was fine, with delicious cranberry chicken and brownie a la mode. Chris came for brunch Sunday, and then we opened a pile of presents. I got some very lovely jewelry (including donkey earrings to wear to Democratic functions), an immersion blender (from Chris), books, and some gorgeous batiks (from Mom). We had a quiet afternoon and evening since we both had big, thick books to keep us busy. I'm moving along with Out of Oz but Paul is almost finished with Stephen King's latest.

On Monday night, we were invited to Vicki and Samantha's for a Boxing Day dinner with Polly. Samantha received a turkey from her company for Thanksgiving, and saved it to cook for us. Yum!

I don't know when I'll take the decorations down since we have a busy weekend ahead. Thought you'd like to see my "Christmas with Jane" quilt on the couch. I enjoy looking at it and remembering all my adventures with the various Dear Jane quilts.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Still dark at 7:02 am

We woke up to snow so it is still gloomy. I was planning to go to the grocery store early, but I guess I'll have to go with the crowds after the roads clear a bit. Going down the hill is just too scary when it's snow-covered. We are out of the usual - milk, eggs, etc. - and need some of those occasional things, like ice cream. An apple-and-possibly-pear crisp is on the menu for Christmas eve, made with some lovely fruit my parents sent.

If I get hung up with the groceries, I may not be able to go to the quilt shop today. So I put the red and whites away and pulled out the Civil War blocks at 6:00 am. I have plenty of blocks for a quilt but some are 6" and some are 8". Then there are some of neither size that could be expanded or put on the back. Four 8" blocks have an on-point orientation, suggesting a medallion. Last winter, we "secret stitchers" were quite taken with a sampler in the VT Historical Society collection. It had a center medallion on point surrounded by smaller blocks, too. It's a good day for moving blocks around. :-)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Red and white swap

I made two sets of six 12" red and white blocks for another swap over the last few days. The one on the left is Jacob's Ladder and, on the right, Lady of the Lake. Each of the latter takes 20 half-square triangle squares so I don't think I'll be making any more real soon.

I discovered a way to make a lot of pretty accurate half-square triangle squares, though. Cut one square from each of your two fabrics, put them face to face, sew all around all four sides, and make two diagonal cuts. If you start with 6" squares, you end up with 4" HST squares. With 5" squares, the result is 3.25" HST squares, and with 4" squares, 2.25". These do have bias edges, so they need to be handled with care.

I fiddled with three more possible squares for the swap, but decided only one would work. Watch for more pictures... eventually! With all this trial and error, I am running out of white-on-white fabric, and if I can go to the quilt shop tomorrow, I will get more. If not, I am out of luck until Jan. 3 since the shop is closing for the holidays.

I am pretty excited about making another red and white quilt. My first quilt was red and white, started in 1974 and finished in 1986! Made of polyester blend cotton, it has been mended several times. I also signed up for a new year-long two-color mystery quilt developed by Brenda Papdakis of Dear Jane and Gay of Sentimental Stitches, called Just Takes 2. Should be interesting and I'm hoping I can use the blocks in this quilt, too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Even though we plan a low-key holiday, I have been busy either preparing or enjoying the season. Not a lot of quilting going on. Sunday night, we went to some friends' house for an Indian dinner which was fun. Monday, we had some dear friends over for a dinner of French-Canadian meat pie, "tourtiere." I had never made it before, and the recipe was a composite from various ones I found online. With Sandy's salad, Cindy's bread, and Polly's apple pie, it was just right.

Yesterday morning I had tea at my former neighbors' in Montpelier. When we moved there, Chris was only two so he views them as surrogate grandparents, and they had to be the most supportive people this single mom could ever have had. I wish we saw them more often, and it was nice to catch up.

Today I'll finish some blocks I'm making for a swap and maybe start on a few more. I'll do my Civil War block of the week sometime, too. There's only one left to go before Barbara Brackman's series is over. Then I'll have to figure out if what I have is enough for a quilt or not.

Mostly these days, I've been baking cookies and Chex Mix, reading, and just enjoying the sights and sounds of the season. The classical radio station has been having a good mix of music for quilting or reading. It's snowing lightly now but I don't think we're going to have much accumulation before Christmas, and that will make traveling a little easier for those who do. Polly will join us for dinner Christmas eve, and Chris will be here for brunch on Christmas day. We'll call various relatives and just play with our "toys." "Santa" (my brother) did send me Out of Oz so I know what I'll be doing later in the day!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The tote

Ever since I spilled coffee on my everyday tote, I have been thinking about making a new one. I usually need one that will hold a book, calendar, distance glasses, snacks, and papers, sometimes all at once if I'm traveling. The button on the tote came from my former MIL and has moved from item to item as I wore whatever it was on out. There are a couple of pockets inside made from selvages, too.

The books of 2011

2011 could easily be called "the year of the series" because I discovered new ones and read the most recent book(s) in various ones I have enjoyed over the years. I discovered the Irish Country Doctor series by Patrick Taylor and devoured the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. They were entirely different but enjoyable for their reflections of the times, with Taylor's covering the 1950's in Northern Ireland and Winspear's England post-WWI.

I also caught up with Precious Ramotswe, VI Warshawski, and Kinsey Milhone, three of my very favorite characters. Inspector Gamache, Louise Penny's wonderful detective from just over the border in Quebec, also made an appearance in one of my favorite books of the year, A Trick of the Light. A new contemporary series, set in Ireland and Minnesota, fascinated me, beginning with Haunted Ground by Erin Hart.

Other favorites included:
The Book Thief - Zusak, recommended by Carole
Sarah's Key - de Rosnay, read in the book group and now a movie
My Life in France - Julia Child, recommended by Karen and soooo enjoyable
Dreamers of the Day - Russell, set in Egypt in 1921
The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins, also read in book group

A few books I'd like to read in 2012 include new titles by Geraldine Brooks, Sarah Addison Allen, Sandra Dallas, and Gregory Maguire. In fact, I hope "Santa" (my brother) brings Out of Oz!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Yesterday, in a frenzy of sewing, I made a new tote bag for myself. First I made a fat quarter out of selvages sew together. I cut it down slightly as I squared it off, and I had enough selvages left over to make inner pockets and an little outer pocket. I realized that the pockets needed something on the backs so that I didn't catch stuff on the unfinished sides. So I faced them with Pellon. Anyway, I don't have a photo, but am happy with the new bag which I hope is big enough to carry papers and books to various meetings, library Friends, Democrats, and otherwise.

Along with several tote bags, table runners, and mug rugs, I really finished quite a few quilts this year:

  • A 9-block appliqued sampler for flood relief

  • A red, white and black baby quilt for Jovianne

  • A green and white Irish Chain baby quilt for the Mad River Charity Auction

  • A batik squares quilt for the MRCA

  • "Full Duty" Civil War quilt

  • "Candy Land" wallhanging (hand quilted)

  • Australian fabric baby quilt for Robin's Yann

  • A garden row robin wallhanging

  • "Lasagna" flannel baby quilt for Hudson

  • "Prairie Flowers" friendship swap quilt

  • Ugly rectangles quilt for flood relief

  • "Virtually Pink" quilt using Tante Wil's last UFO for cousin Marianne

  • Basket block swap throw

  • Calico County challenge


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Beautiful morning

We had a couple of inches of wet, sloppy snow over night, but the roads seem to be melting quickly. My meeting tonight in Montpelier was cancelled, so I have a free day!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Winding Ways

Over the last few years, maybe since I read Jennifer Chiaverini's book with that title, I've wanted to make a Winding Ways quilt. Last summer, I bought 3 yards of a very sweet cream background fabric with pink and gray. I used it to make a few test blocks in other patterns, but still the Winding Ways was calling my name. So I bought a couple more yards and a set of templates. Last week, I took the plunge, using my Curvemaster foot. At first, I thought I'd never master the process, but with each block, I seem to be getting better. The hard part is matching the center. The Curvemaster likes you to have the convex piece on the bottom, but sometimes you just have to have the concave part there. There's quite a bit of "easing" that goes on, too. I have fat quarters in pink, hot pink, gray and black to use along with the background. So far, I've made about 10 blocks and have four more cut out. Since it's still a fairly intense process, I'll see how large it will grow. 16 blocks? 20?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Calico County Challenge

My Saturday quilt group, the Calico County Quilters, is holding its second annual "pretty/ugly" challenge. At our November meeting, we were each to bring a fat quarter that we think is pretty and another we think is "ugly." These were put into separate bags, and we each drew one out of each bag. With our two fabrics and no more than two others, we are make a piece no larger than 12" square. It can be traditional or not. Last year Elaine made a chicken pot holder with hers while I made a landscape.

I couldn't go to the meeting because I was teaching an applique class. But Polly drew for me - a lovely burgundy "blender" as well as a wild fabric with spools of thread, buttons, and measuring tape. There was no way these two fabrics were going together in any kind of traditional block. The pink thread clashed terribly with the burgundy.

I kept looking at my fabrics and decided that the spools of thread were like a bad dream. And so an idea came to me! I found some motley light pink for a face and some black with irregular dots for the night. It just so happened that yesterday's quilting motif of the day by Leah Day was a swirly one, which went very well with a dream.
Hence, this piece, which I am calling "Quilter's Dream." Or maybe "Visions of Quilter's Sugarplums"? The reveal will be at our February meeting. Can I keep it a secret from Polly until then?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Scrappy wreath

Last week, I saw a pattern online (at for a wreath made with green scraps. It looked like just the thing I've been looking for. I usually have small quilts on our door, and I change them with the seasons. Our Christmas one hung on the door at Maplecroft where it was exposed to high sun. It is really faded and should be retired. This wreath didn't take long to make - maybe 2 afternoons - and looks real from the street. One bad thing is that it didn't use as many scraps as I had hoped. The tote with my green scraps is still overflowing!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Basket quilt done

I put the last stitches in the binding of the Basket Block Swap quilt today. It's a smallish throw but I love the various baskets. I added some broderie perse to one block (lower middle) and removed some yoyos (top right) to make quilting easier. I quilted a curvy weave grid over the borders and am pleased with the effect. My machine quilting is improving, but slowly.

For the last week or so, I've been working on miscellaneous blocks, including Civil War blocks-of-the-week and some Winding Ways 9" blocks. For the latter I have a sweet background print of gray and pink on cream. Accent colors are various grays and pinks. It will be a while before I'm finished all the blocks, but with practice and the Curvemaster foot, the curves are looking better as I go.

Friday, November 25, 2011

An unconventional Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving lobster was delicious but messy. Paul and I headed to the store early yesterday, and it was mostly empty. We left "Larry, Loretta, and Lucille" in the car to cool until noon when they went into my big canning pot. I made a salad, melted some butter, and warmed up the whole wheat/oat rolls I had made Wednesday. Polly arrived at 12:30 pm, bringing a lovely apple pie. She had never had a whole lobster before. It is a messy proposition, and I'm glad the trash will be collected today. I need to change the tablecloth, too, since things tend to get a little wet. It was a light, easy meal, topped off by the pie a la mode.

I talked with Mom Wed. night, and Axel yesterday morning. He was heading over to friends with a relish tray. Chris spent the day with friends who love football as much as he does, but of course we see him almost every day for lunch. We will probably see him this weekend when he runs out of clean clothes.

I liked not having so many dishes and pots/pans to wash, and it gave me time to sew. I started knitting another hat, this time off white with purple stripes, and worked on more mystery quilt blocks. This month's "clue" calls for 24 string blocks, 8.5" square, in background fabrics. It was tough to gather them all together, and I hope I have some left for any upcoming clues. When I saw Jen at the store in the morning, she told me December's clue won't be as labor intensive. Thank goodness! I hope to finish those blocks today and get back to working on other projects. That Winding Ways quilt keeps calling to me, as I keep setting it aside for other things.

I'm not planning to shop today except for food. Paul needs to go downtown and will pick up the holiday letters at the printer's. I hope to do a little housework, walk on the treadmill, and then get back to sewing. Big eternal question: what's for dinner?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rijsttafel vanavond

Dinner tonight: Indonesian Rijsttafel with dear friends. Many years ago, I took Chinese cooking lessons with Chet and have been meaning to invite him and Karen for an Indonesian dinner for some time. Tonight's menu includes:

  • Sayur Lodeh - vegetables in coconut sauce

  • Rendang - spicy beef stew (the crock pot works well for this)

  • Tempeh goreng

  • Atjar ketimun - cucumber salad

  • Garnished with peanuts and sambal oelek (hot sauce)

  • Nasi (I'm using brown rice which my grandmother would frown upon)

  • Black rice pudding with mango for dessert

Just like Thanksgiving, I've been working on this for a few days, but the result will be a little lighter. When I was a kid, my mother made all her Indonesian food from scratch and taught me to do the same. The Dutch can buy many dishes in the deli at the supermarket or just use a mix. Luckily for me, my sister sends me mixes from Holland so I don't have to do as much from scratch, but I still prefer making my own sayur. The mix just doesn't taste right, and I can't figure out what it is I don't like in it. I do wish I had some krupuk, but that will have to wait til another time. Chet's bringing a Reisling and some beer.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Basket Swap quilt ready to quilt

Yesterday, I finished adding the borders to the quilt top I mostly put together from swap blocks at last weekend's quilt camp. At first, I was going to piece extra side borders because the top was long and thin. But after I got the new outside border batik, I realized it would look fine if the side strips were 6" wide and the top and bottom were 3" wide. And so it does. The batik between the blocks is more of a beige-brown while the borders have a little more teal in them.

I pin-basted it yesterday and then took a break to finish Jennifer Chiaverini's newest book, The Wedding Quilt. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon read. I enjoyed catching up with characters from various books in the series and look forward to her next, Sonoma Rose, coming this winter. While reading, I thought a little about the Winding Ways quilt I hope to make from Jennifer's latest quilt book, Traditions from Elm Creek Quilts.

This morning I started quilting in the ditch between the center blocks. After tying off many loose ends, I am taking another break to think about what I will quilt in the plain blocks and on the borders. Free motion? A motif drawn on tracing paper? I'm using a nice beige-gray thread and will proceed slowly. I used to hate tying off the loose ends, but now I find it relaxing and a good way to stretch between quilting sessions.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Even though retirement means never having a schedule, today I hope to:
- vaccuum and mop
- grocery shop
- put something in the crock pot for dinner
- make the borders for the basket quilt (IF I feel like it!)
- tackle a couple of block of the week Civil War blocks
- finish reading The Wedding Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
- take a photo of the Prairie Flower quilt I finished last week

It's going to be a busy week so I do want to relax today. I have a county Democratic committee meeting Monday night, quilt guild Tuesday night, and book group Wednesday night. On Saturday morning, I'm slated to teach an applique class at A Quilter's Garden. So I need to get my stuff together for that. The class sample, hanging at the shop, uses Christmas fabrics, but I want to make the one I do along with the class in blue and white. Someday, I'll add it to my "square robin" that's going around to members of the quilt guild this year.

Yesterday, after a quick trip to Joann's, I finished knitting a hat. It was my first and turned out way too large for either niece. I have a huge head and it's even a little big on me, so I'll set it aside and wear it in bad weather. I got a few more skeins of yarn but won't start on another, easier hat for a while.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Home from retreat

I went to my first overnight quilt retreat last weekend. Paula picked me up at 1:30 pm for Seyon Lodge, just half an hour east of us. There were 12 other quilters, and we sewed, chatted, ate exceedingly well, and laughed a lot for the next two days. And I got a lot done:
  • I made six "mug rugs" to give family and friends for Christmas. I plan to add some goodies along with a tag that says Enjoy your mug rug! so they know what it is. I still have a few more to make. For many of them, I used selvages clipped off fabrics I've been using this summer and fall. They are really cute.

  • I put together the basket blocks I had received in a swap a few weeks ago. The resulting quilt top is just a little too thin and needs borders along the sides. Unfortunately, I am almost out of the grey/brown and blue batik I was using between the blocks. Sarah, who sat next to me at Seyon, works at the shop where I bought the batik. She took a snippet and will call me tomorrow when she's there to let me know whether or not to make the trip down to get more. Otherwise, as she says, sometimes creative solutions come out of these situations.

  • I made a couple more Amish blocks for the library raffle quilt that guild members are working on. I have about 20 blocks so far, most of them made by guild members who have until Dec. 13 to make them. It should be a stunning quilt.

  • I made good progress hand appliqueing a center medallion from the book Simple Graces by Kim Diehl. After I finish this I will surround the medallion with small log cabin blocks similar to those in a quilt owned by the Vermont Historical Society. I'm using a variety of shirtings for the 40" x 40" center and will use them in the log cabin blocks, too. This is a longterm project but is beginning to look like something after spending a number of hours over the weekend.

When I got home, I puttered around the sewing room, putting stuff back, but I haven't sewn a stitch since. I guess I OD'd on quilting! I've been knitting a hat - my first - in a lovely hot pink. If it turns out nice, I'll give it to a special niece for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A carpet of flowers

The 2011 Friendship Swap "prairie flower" blocks arrived last week, and I couldn't resist laying them out right away. At first, I planned to put a floral print in between the blocks but that didn't look right, so then I thought I'd frame each floral block with a dark green. But that didn't look right either. A block-to-block layout seemed to show the various greens and creams off better. It was a little difficult to put together this way, and I had to iron seams toward the opposite side in some places. I also made a few extra blocks to create a 5 x 6 block setting.

But it all worked out, and I spent the last few days quilting. I went in the ditch along the greens and then stippled the floral print border. We had a little snow which was a good excuse to stay home and quilt. I'm sewing the binding down today and should be done soon. It will be a great throw for reading on the couch this winter!

Right now I'm reading The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Barry Udall for my book group. I read somewhere that the author wanted to write a "big" book, but it needed a good editor. The torturous behavior of the boys in boarding school was hair-raising and Udall's descriptions are over-long. This was marketed for YA and up, but I can't see a teen sticking with it. Can't wait to finish and move on to something lighter: Jennifer Chiaverini's The Wedding Quilt and two Carrie Bebris mysteries featuring Mr. and Mrs. Darcy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


This sweet little bluebird arrived in the mail last week from my Secret Santa, Mary in Ontario. It was part of an online swap for which I made a Christmas banner for Tricia, who lives in England and is crazy about Christmas. She received her banner today and promised to take a picture which is great because I forgot to take one before I mailed it.

She asked how I made it, and it was quite easy and fun, really. I was inspired by Tibetan prayer flags, so I got out my Dear Jane triangle ruler and bought a zig zag blade for my rotary cutter. I fused two rectangles of Christmas fabric together and simply cut the piece into a triangle. When I had made a number of them, I made a long strip of binding and sewed it across the tops. A little embellishing, and voila!

Last week I also mailed out all the basket blocks for another swap that I was hostessing. There were 16 participants, so I went to the post office when I thought it wouldn't be busy. I love the helpfulness of the staff there, and, although a line formed almost immediately, Nancy just calmly took care of each package in turn. Most had postage already on them, but some people wanted delivery confirmation and it made sense to check to see if there was enough postage. Most of the people in the swap have already received their blocks and are happily moving them around their design walls. I have some fabric I'm going to use to set them with, but I'm putting it all in a bag to take to quilt camp in a couple of weeks. It is really nice to read of everyone's enthusiasm for their blocks which will make some sweet quilts.

On Saturday I received a nice fat squishy package of Friendship Swap blocks. There were 21 "Prairie Flower" blocks from various people in the US, Canada, and England. Each has "solid" green and floral fabric surrounding a center signature square so that when they are laid out, they look like a carpet of flowers. After laying them out, I decided to make a few more so that I can have 6 rows of 5 blocks. I tried a variety of settings, but they look pretty just set block-to-block so that's what I'm working on now. Photos... eventually!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baskets and more

I've been quite busy lately but not with very interesting things. This past week, I helped with a Health Care Update program at the library one night - set up chairs, helped set up the sound system, handed out cards for questions to people arriving, etc. Only about 20 people came, but it was a great program by two very impressive young women putting the Governor's single payer health care program together.

Friday Paul and I joined our neighbors Tom and Dolly for a trip over to the Burlington Country Club for lunch with friends of theirs. It poured all the way there and back, but I enjoyed chatting with Dolly in the back seat. Saturday, Paula and I headed out bright an early for the fall Green Mountain Quilters Guild meeting in Bethel. It was a good meeting. I'm finding it easier to take the minutes now that I know a few people. The workshops were on wool applique and using a bleach-resist process to create very interesting effects on solid fabrics.

Over the last few days I've been juggling 6" basket blocks since I'm the hostess of a basket block
swap for the Friendship Swap group. The guidelines stated that the baskets needed to be of the brown family but the contents could be any color. Almost all of the 16 sets that came to me met the guidelines, but I was in a quandary about this purple basket with brown handle. When I asked people if they were OK with a purple baskets almost all said it was. Quilters are so flexible! I will be mailing these out in a few days to everyone. I am already imaging the looks I'll get from other customers at the post office.

Meanwhile, I started a new quilt - grays, creams, and hot pinks. The background is a sweet print that reminds me of a summer dress. I'm making Shoo Fly and Star blocks but am not exactly sure where it's heading. Still, it's fun to play with these fabrics.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Blocks of the week

Now that I'm finished with the pink and brown quilt, I'm using Civil War fabrics to make the weekly blocks in the "virtual bee" organized on the Friendship Swap group. The "bee" calls for 6" blocks, but I'm enlarging them to 8" to fit in with the Barbara Brackman blocks of the week.

Last week's block was "rosebud," for which I used a greenish print just for the tips. I have learned that green fabric was hard to get during the 1860's, so little bits of it will go a long way in this quilt. As I made this, I was thinking back on Sandra Dallas' recent book The Bride's House. The main character made and wore a distinctive green dress that made her stand out in her little mining town.

This week's block is a "sawtooth star," with a four patch in the center. I love being able to use up some scraps this way.

This afternoon, I finished the Brackman block for last week, which was all applique. Will take a photo soon. This week's block is a five pointed pieced star, that looks like it should be either hand pieced or appliqued. The latter's for me!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Virtually Pink and Brown

I have wanted to make a pink and brown quilt for a while, so when someone in the Friendship Swap group suggested a "virtual bee" with a block of the week, I decided to raid my stash. I also traded some fabric with Elaine who had had enough of the pink she had used in a previous quilt and is on to batiks in blues and greens.

About mid-way through the year, I realized that the blocks really went nicely with some fabric I "inherited" from Tante Wil, who passed away in 2003. I have been chipping away at her UFOs all this time. Six very meticulously pieced log cabin blocks have had me puzzled. No matter how I arranged them, I couldn't figure out what she had been planning. There was about a yard of her pink and brown fabric left, so I decided to use it in setting the blocks. Three of hers are in this quilt, at the top right, lower left, and center.

I like the Irish Chain setting, using scraps of brown with Tante Wil's pink floral fabric. After putting what turned out to be a generous throw together, I still have about a dozen pink and brown blocks which I will save for a baby quilt sometime. I quilted each of the "virtual" blocks individually and also went diagonally through the brown squares. Here's a picture of the back, which offers an homage to Tante Wil and states that I finished it. I am planning to send it to my cousin Marianne, Wil's daughter, who lives in the Netherlands.

Many years ago, when Tante Wil visited me, I took her along to a fabric shop and showed her my quilts. She was hooked immediately and made some lovely things. From the fabric and projects she left, it appeared she liked pinks and browns, so I was pleased to be able to honor her in this way.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I just returned from a swing through Berlin and Barre. First stop was Lenny's where I tried on any number of shoes that did not fit. The saleswoman seemed to think I was just too fussy and ended up telling me I was looking for too "dressy" a shoe for their store. Come on! I am going to wear these with jeans and socks. Frustrated, I left without looking for jeans for Chris which I hear are on sale this weekend.

I headed up to the Berlin Mall with Joann's and Penney's, old haunts from my working days. They were cleaning the restroom near Joann's, so I headed down to Penney's where I also looked at shoes. Nothing much caught my eye. I ducked into the Shoe Dept. which has odds and ends at discount prices. Sometimes there's lots I like, but most times nothing. They had lots today, and I very easily found a cute pair of Merrills Mary Janes, black with purple accents. Guess I wasn't looking for "dressy," just "cute." The minute I put them on, I knew I had the right shoes.

Joann's also had all I needed - glitzy buttons, rickrack, a zig zag blade for my rotary cutter, braid for handbag handles, and some charms. I'll be embellishing a couple of fat quarter clutch bags with the buttons. And some of these things are for a Secret Santa swap with my online Friendship Swap quilting group. I had an amazing inspiration this morning for my "pal." Hope she likes it.

Next stop was the post office to return the shoes I bought from I do like the way they pay postage both ways. I had parked right behind the Barre Opera House so I could buy tickets for two performances, an opera program with the Vermont Philharmonic on Oct. 23 and Paula Poundstone on Oct. 28. Last stop was the public library to return a book I just couldn't finish - Burn by Nevada Barr. Her "Anna Pidgeon" character investigates child sex slavery in New Orleans which is just too icky for me. I love her stories set in the national parks. I was happy to find a biography set in Africa and have another paperback mystery at home to keep me happy, too.

It's supposed to be lovely weather for the next few days, so I should be able to take some pictures of blocks, bags, and quilts to post soon!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Buried in UFOs

I seem to have a lot of projects going at once these days. Many of them are the result of an online Friendship Swap group or the Heart of Vermont Quilt Guild. For the guild, I am working on a mystery quilt that is supposed to use up stash, and I have chosen my holiday box to tackle for this project. I also have gotten together bags of fabric for a row robin in black, white and red and a "square" robin in blue and white. In the "square" robin, the bags go around monthly to a different person who makes a block with our fabrics. My Civil War blocks turned out great last time, so I am looking forward to this year's robins.

Paula in the guild is also putting together a fabric challenge which we'll pick up at the October meeting. We'll buy 3 carefully chosen fat quarters from her for $5.50 and will have until June to create a 36" wallhanging. Can't wait to see what her devious mind comes up with.

In the online Friendship Swap group, I have the following I'm waiting for:
1. 6" basket blocks due Oct. 15 - I'm the hostess for the first time, so it will be interesting
2. 12" Christmas stars due in Nov.
3. 6" Christmas novelty blocks due in Nov. (can I combine the two? will have to wait and see)
4. 9" floral blocks signed by participants (22 blocks coming soon)
I also signed up to do a Secret Santa ornament swap (due Dec. 1) and a winter mug rug due in January.

And speaking of mug rugs, a friend gave me the idea to make some for Christmas gifts and add hot chocolate, biscotti, and a mug with each. A nice idea for the adults-who-have-everything in the family. I also found a cute pattern for a little zippered bag that will be nice for travelers.

All year long, I've been participating in a "Virtual Bee" and have made blocks in pink and brown each week. Now that I've put those blocks together, I'm making weekly Civil War blocks to add to Barbara Brackman's Civil War block of the week. I have a few left over pink and brown blocks, too, which I can put together for another baby quilt, maybe for charity.

And someday, I'll finish putting together the vest I knit last winter and finish knitting the brown scarf I started this summer. Lots to do!

Friday, September 30, 2011

"You go, girl"

When a member of an online swap group I'm in began making some big changes in her life, several of us submitted blocks for a quilt. We signed with encouraging words, and Carol in the group put them together and quilted it. Mine is of course the one with the tulips (fourth row, 2nd from left). Quilters have to be the nicest people!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Busy quilting

There is definitely a touch of fall in the air. Mornings are foggy and, even though it has been warm, it's dark when I wake up and it gets dark earlier in the evenings. The trees know it's fall - they are beginning to turn and some are even losing their leaves. It is a great time of year - craft shows, chicken pie suppers, leaf peepers from all over the world, and more. And while we sometimes miss the variety of guests we used to have, we don't miss the frenetic energy of the B&B at this time of year.

I have been spending quite a bit of time quilting a largish throw in pinks and browns. The 6" blocks from the "virtual bee" block of the week in the Friendship Swap group alternate with Irish Chain blocks made with the last UFO of my Tante Wil's. She passed away in 2003, and I have been chipping away at her projects ever since. I love the pink and brown fabric she chose but have never been able to figure out what she intended with a few very meticulously pieced log cabin blocks.

I finished putting the top together Saturday, pieced the back out of scraps, and started quilting Sunday. By Tuesday, I had run out of pink variegated thread, so I had to make a run to the quilt shop. I crisscrossed the Irish Chains but am doing some free motion in the sampler blocks. Have to take frequent breaks because every free motioned block is different and I need to relax while working on them. I used to hate the process of tying off loose threads, but now I find it a nice time to reflect about what I'm going to do next.

This afternoon, I took a break by reading and going to the farmer's market. There weren't many vendors today but I ended up with lettuce, eggs, and some apple samosas for dessert. Yum!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hudson's quilt

I've heard these called "lasagna" quilts since strips are layered on top of each other. It probably isn't apparent from the photo but these are all flannels. A friend gave me a whole bunch of samples in varying sizes, and I cut them into 3.5" strips. My sewing desk is about 48" wide, so I just sewed the strips together at random and cut the result every time it got longer than the width of my desk. This went fast. I used the serpentine stitch on my machine to quilt it horizontally and vertically, and it was all done, including the binding, in two days. Very fun! It's going to Paul's new greatnephew, Hudson, born just a few days ago. He joins three little girls who are probably going to spoil him rotten!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Holiday sewing - already!

Last week when I stopped in A Quilter's Garden for thread, Dee asked me if I would be willing to teach another class this fall. I thought her class schedule for fall was out already, but she said it was only for Sept. and October. Plenty of time for more, she said. So I said I would be happy to teach beginning applique again and, maybe this time, create something a little easier that people could actually finish in class.

I went home and started working on a holiday table runner which I finished today. It is very simple, and the applique features a simple vine, 8 leaves, a flower, and 3 circles in 2 sizes. I hope people will be able to finish most of the applique in three hours. I'm not sure anyone who took my class in winter 2010 finished their projects at all, and I hate to generate more UFOs in classes. During the class, I like to work along with everyone, so I am going to make another table runner in blues.

Our guild is offering a mystery quilt this year, so I decided to do it in holiday fabrics as well. I hope it will help me clean out my old scraps andmake room for a few new ones.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More Civil War blocks

Those 8" Barbara Brackman Civil War blocks are really addictive. Although I have made one Civil War quilt already this year, I am steadily accumulating more blocks for a second quilt. Brackman has a great blog. Every Saturday, she posts a story about something that happened about that time 200 years ago along with a block of the week. The stories are really interesting.

I made the last two blocks over the weekend. The one on the left is called Star of the West, and the accompanying story was about Jessie Benton Fremont, wife of John, who tried to abolish slavery in Missouri. Lincoln said it was too soon for Missouri, but Jessie traveled to Washington to try to change his mind, to no avail. The Fremonts went back to California. Several years ago, a dual biography came out about the Fremonts. This reminded me to put it on my "someday" reading list.

The block on the right is Kentucky Crossroads. It was easy but, made over and over again in various prints, would make a nice, scrappy quilt.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Busy week

While we in Barre felt pretty lucky that Irene didn't damage us much, many people around the state have not been as lucky. State employees in Waterbury are all being re-located to other places, and many towns south of us are just barely getting out of isolation. Roads are washed out, bridges are gone, many homes are filled with mud. My heart goes out to them all. This week we plan to go to a play at Lost Nation Theater since part of the admission cost will go to flood relief. There's also a "stuff a truck" event Saturday that I'll have to gather stuff for.

Up here on the hill, it was pretty much business as usual. I finished quilting the row by row quilt, but mostly I buried myself in several good books, all of them the latest in their respective series. First was The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, the 12th installment of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. This book was a little more philosophical than previous ones, but now that I've seen the TV series, I can really picture Botswana as Mma Ramotswe drives into the country on her latest case.

Thursday, I finished An Irish Country Courtship by Patrick Taylor. This series involves a doctor, his assistant doctor, and all the people in a Northern Irish village, Ballybucklebo, in the early 1960's. Dr. O'Reilly has never really gotten over the death of his wife at a very early age, but he begins courting a nurse he dated before he met his wife. Kitty is patient, but not that patient. Young Dr. Laverty's girlfriend ditches him, and he wonders if he should leave general practice in the village and specialize in obstetrics. The many odd characters in the village are fun to check in with also, just as those in Mitford are.

Today, I finished Debbie Macomber's newest in the Cedar Cove series, 1105 Yakima St. This was the lightest by far of the books I've read, bordering on soap-operaish, but it was nice to find out what has happened to the many characters in the series. 1225 Christmas Tree Lane, coming out next month, will be the last in the series and, while I know I'll read it, I do feel it has run its course.

This evening, I started Louise Penny's latest mystery, A Trick of Light, which I have been waiting several months for. I am going to try to read it slowly because her books are so good and another one won't be out for a year. The action takes place mostly in a small Quebec village just over the border from Vermont. Both French- and English-speaking characters blend into the stories which are quite puzzling and feature the very human Inspector Gamache. Christine saw Louise Penny at a bookstore in Maine this week and said she was just delightful. We hope she can come to speak in Barre sometime soon. I'll be putting together a raffle basket featuring her latest book which Christine had autographed. Guess it will have a Halloween/fall theme?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Irene" begins

Yesterday we battened down the hatches, and Friday we stocked up. Today we wait, watch, worry. Hurricane Irene is over New York as I write this, and I sure hope Rob's business in the city and Long Island home stay OK.

Stocking up included shopping for printer toner cartridges (have work to do in preparation for a meeting Monday), bread, and fabric. Since it's going to rain steadily, I will very happily sew on my row robin unless the power goes out. In that case, I will try to applique by the window. But I do want to get to the row robin, which was flying around the country, from St. Louis to Michigan and several other places, this year. I had chosen a garden theme, and my friends did a wonderful, creative job on their rows. Friday, I found two lovely green batiks for between some of the rows and for simple borders. I am hoping to put this quilt on a wall in the basement, right next to my treadmill so I can enjoy it while I walk.

While at the quilt shop, I chatted with Paula about a row robin for our Heart of Vermont Guild. She's going to base the guidelines for the new RR on those of the online group I belong to. I think there will be a "Square Robin" and a mystery quilt coming out of our local group, too, so it will be a busy year.

Yesterday, while I was out getting toner, I ran into Chuck, husband of Florence, the former librarian from Brookfield. She was one of my favorites when I was working, so I went out into the parking lot to find her waiting. She has retired, too, and is as busy as I am. But it was good to catch up since I have wanted to drive down to visit her for ages.

Battening down the hatches included putting all flowers in pots in the garage and taking our big wooden rockers in from the porch. We usually leave them out all year long, but if the wind picks up enough to blow them around, they could really damage our French doors. I noticed my neighbor has taken her glass-topped table and hummingbird feeder inside, too.

It started raining softly during the night and has picked up steadily since I got up. The worst is supposed to start around noon and continue into the night. Paul went downtown already to check on the sandbags at the Old Labor Hall. He isn't thrilled about a repeat of the flooding that occurred in May. So he'll be worrying all day, and probably going down to check a few more times. Good thing I stocked up on gasoline, too!

This morning, while the power's on (and it may well stay on), I'm going to do a little cooking. Our annual condo picnic was cancelled due to the weather, so I think a pot of chili is on the agenda along with the upside-down cake I was planning to take to the picnic. One good thing - glad it's not snow!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear Hannah in Colorado

While in Colorado, Mom and I visited the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum for its latest exhibit, quilts by Ann Elliot whose Baltimore Album quilts are all hand-quilted. They were masterful, and I particularly enjoyed seeing her version of Dear Hannah. The individual blocks weren't quilted but the sashing featured big-stitch quilting with black perle cotton. Quite effective!

Dad's 85th Birthday

Dad invited 21 friends to join him, Mom, and Jenny for lunch at "Purple Ginger" Asian fusion restaurant on August 20. Little did he know that I would be coming, too! It was fun, and he really enjoyed himself. Danny, the manager, made a special nasi for him, complete with candle in the rice. We all had a great time!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Virtual bee blocks

This morning I made my "Virtual Bee" block of the week, and it was so easy that I made another. I took photos of it and last week's.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Rainy Monday...

...but that don't get me down! I always have so much to do, and most of it's fun. We had a very nice weekend, starting with the arrival of Rob and his girls, Caroline and Evelyn. At 13 and 11, they are really growing up but still have a streak of kid-ness in them, too. They had each made me a lavender-filled sachet for my birthday along with long letters updating me on their summers. After hamburgers, grilled by Chris, and corn on the cob, they showed us their "telepathy" act, which Paul figured out but Rob still can't. They really enjoy the fact that they have their own father befuddled!

Friday morning, we headed over to Burlington to meet Chris for a scenic cruise on Lake Champlain followed by a trip to ECHO, a museum focusing on the ecology of the lake. There was a huge group of seniors on the boat, so other passengers had to sit outside. Chris and I each got a little pink in the face, but it was really nice out there. Not too hot or cold. When we got back to Barre, we left Rob snoozing on the couch and took the girls down to the public library for the opening of Almuth's exhibit of textiles and watercolors. I ordered pizza for dinner, after which Rob and the girls went for a bike ride and saw a lovely sunset over the mountains. They left all too soon Saturday for a party in Granville, VT, where they were going to camp. It rained overnight, so I hope they didn't get too wet.

Yesterday, I started working with some linen that Yve sent me. I made two patchwork pillows and found that linen is really hard to work with. It slides a lot, so I ended up using my walking foot much of the time. It's a little difficult to cut straight with the rotary cutter, but I did make a couple of stars and a log cabin block, using fairly large pieces. Yve had sent three shades of green, a natural linen, and a white which all go very nicely together, and the pillows are really soft. I put the rest back in a bag in the closet for another day (month? year?).

This morning, I also made a mug rug for a swap coming up this fall. I alternated three 3" maple leaf blocks with a fall print. Then I quilted it using variegated thread in fall colors that Karen, my secret pal from 2009, gave me. I love the way it looks!

Undoubtedly the best thing that happened today is that Chris started his new job at Westminster Stone Works. He came over for lunch at 11 am and said it is "awesome" and doesn't feel like work at all. May it stay that way.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Catching up

This week I spent finishing various quilt/sewing projects. I made a pillowcase for my brother's birthday and two reversible aprons for Dad's birthday. With Parkinson's, Dad uses aprons at every meal and the ones I made for him a few years ago are shot. So he got some very colorful ones using Laurel Birch fabric.

Then I turned my attention to some Block of the Week projects. First were Friendship Swap "Virtual Bee" blocks in pink and brown. I was behind by five weeks, but not anymore!

I also caught up on my Barbara Brackman Civil War blocks. Made three of them and felt smug until a new one came out today. Manana! I do like these block of the week projects because getting them done feels so effortless, yet at the end of the year, I should be able to put them together into two very different quilts.

I also started two new projects, both ones I can pick up and set down at whim. I started knitting a lacy scarf out of brown-burgundy-gray variegated yarn. Today I cut out 16 10" squares of shirting of all kinds and put them together for the background of a large appliqued piece I've been thinking about for several months. The pattern is in a book called Simple Graces by Kim Diehl which I bought at our quilt show from Phyllis of Winterberry Cabin. She was making one in wool, but I wanted to try it in cotton with a scrappy look. It feels good to be starting a new applique project that should last me a while. It's more "country" than I usually make, but after the black and white and the Civil War quilts, it seems to suit.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cruisin' the Lake and more

Sunday was my birthday, but we celebrated it for two days this year. Was I lucky! Sunday I enjoyed visits and phone calls from family and friends before going out for dinner in Montpelier at the Royal Orchid with Paul, Chet, and Karen. I love Thai food! Afterwards, we went to Lost Nation Theater to see Woody Guthrie's American Song and drove home with his wonderful tunes and words on our minds. We were especially impressed to hear The Ludlow Massacre, having visited the monument (sculpted in Barre out of Barre gray granite) in Ludlow, CO, a couple of summers ago.

Monday morning, we headed over to Burlington to meet Pauline and Bob for a cruise on The Spirit of Ethan Allen on Lake Champlain. The 10 am cruise was cancelled due to lack of cruisers, so we visited the Ethan Allen Homestead before taking off at noon. We had lunch while seeing and hearing about the sights along the lake. It was breezy but just fine under the canopy on the top deck. People moved out of the sun, though, and we discovered upon disembarking that it was HOT out. But a wonderful time was had with our old friends.

I was so happy to give Pauline and Bob this quilt, too. I had participated in a black, white, and a touch of red block swap with an online group, but I had wanted a quilt with a little more color. So I made a "few" additional blocks! I dug into my stash for 2" squares for that inner border, and the outer border features fabric with all sorts of cartoonish dogs. The dogs aren't immediately visible, but the following morning when Pauline called to thank me again, she had noticed them when spreading the quilt on her bed. It was a lot of fun to make, and I'm glad to be able to move on to a few more UFOs!

Heritage Days

Barre's annual summer festival, Heritage Days, has come and gone. Last Thurs., Paul, Chris and I helped set up a large tent and tables for the library book sale. Friday, I helped sell books and, luckily, the rain held off until the very end. At 4 pm it poured! We did some cleaning up and then headed to the ethnic food tent with Christine, Helene, Chet, and Karen. Everything was $1, and, altogether, our dinner cost $11. We had baklava, spanakopita, tabouli, mostaccioli with meat sauce, tourtiere, Vietnamese chicken salad, and more. Saturday morning, Paul and I wandered around downtown, listened to some sets at a fiddlers contest, and got some ethnic food for lunch (Middle Eastern mostly). At 1 pm, I was at the Aud for the parade lineup while Paul was down at the city park helping with the "We Dig Barre" info booth. The parade started at 2 pm and we Greater Barre Democrats had a fairly respectable showing. It wasn't as hot as last year, but I still needed to drink two bottles of water and have an ice cream cone after the parade before feeling "normal" again. All in all, it was a very successful event, and thank goodness it's only once a year!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Too hot to blog

At noon today, our thermometer, which is admittedly on the porch where it catches sun around noon, read 101.4 degrees. That's hot, no matter where one lives! Yesterday, we had a 94 degree reading, but it was more humid. Today it didn't feel as humid, and tonight it is very pleasant outside. I read out on the porch until it got a little too dark. And my feet, which always seem to be blazing by the end of a hot day, have cooled off.

Yesterday morning I finished quilting the second of three sections of a black, white, and touch of color quilt. It is looking really nice, with a mix of free-motion and straight stitching in the blocks most of which came from Sylvia's Bridal Sampler.

Today I just went horizontally in the ditch on the third section before it got too hot upstairs. I went downstairs where it's cooler and started washing fabric. A quilt artist had called me last week to offer four bags of scraps which I picked up Monday. One of the bags had a lot of good-sized pieces of solid fabric which smelled a little musty but washed up really nicely.

I sent an email out to members of the Heart of Vermont guild to ask if anyone would be interested in making a block in an Amish colorway to contribute to a quilt for the library to raffle off. So far 18 people have said yes, and last night Betty came over with 4 1/2 yds. of Amish black to add to the cause. I am making kits with about 1/6 of a yard of black and two pieces of solids for people to pick up at the September guild meeting. They'll have until December to make a block. I suspect they will finish sooner but thought I'd give them plenty of time. I'll put the blocks together so that the library can hold its raffle during the winter.

Tomorrow it's supposed to cool off a bit more and be less humid. Hallelujah! I'm meeting Sandy, Cindy, and Polly for breakfast at Maxi's to celebrate Sandy's birthday. In the evening, we're going to the first roller derby "rout" for the Twin City Riot. Should be interesting.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Garden raffle quilt

I made this lap-sized quilt a few years ago and slept under it on the couch plenty when I had pneumonia two winters ago. Now it is going to the Community Gardens to be raffled off so we can retool the plots after the growing season is over. We met last week to come up with fund raising ideas, and this was one of them. When I made it, I had had the Bird of Paradise fabric for several years. It was one of those pieces I bought because I liked it, and then I didn't want to cut into it. Now that I've enjoyed it and replaced it with another quilt for the couch, I am ready to let it go.

Meanwhile, I've been quilting another larger quilt in three sections this week. Some of the blocks came from a swap, and others I made all winter long. All use black and white prints. The swap blocks have a hint of red while the others have hints of other bright colors. The sashing is bright blue, and there's a large feathered star medallion in the center. The center strip is looking good, with the stippling around the star.

Today I plan to sandwich the two end pieces since it's a little less humid. Hotter, more humid weather is predicted for tomorrow through the end of the week, so I need to get some projects done today: vaccum, cook turkey breast to eat cold all week, assemble treadmill, change linens, do laundry! Since it'll be hot, maybe I'll go shopping later this week. Within ten days of my birthday, I'm eligible for a discount half my age at the local quilt shop. Time to stock up!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Australian baby quilt

I used strips of Australian aboriginal fabric to make blocks which were then alternated with deep purple batik. The back of this baby quilt is flannel.

Full Duty

Quilted into the top border: "Vermont will do its full duty." Into the left side: "Governor Erastus Fairbanks," and into the right side: "April 15, 1861." This quilt is to commemorate Fairbanks' reply to Abraham Lincoln's call for troops after the firing on Ft. Sumter.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dieting, floors, quilting

I started watching what I eat - nay, really being serious about what I eat! - on Tuesday. I went to the gym and weighed myself and found I had slipped up about 13 lbs. in the last few months. Must be all the wonderful strawberry shortcake and ice cream I've had lately. I've been watching those carbs and eating more veggies all week. No relaxing glass of wine at the end of the day, either. But I think it's paying off because today I weighed myself at home and am down. (Maybe I will keep using the home scale since it is much more in my favor.) I'm glad it's summer and we can eat more salads. Picked my first two Sun Gold cherry tomatoes yesterday and a batch of Swiss Chard this morning. And I ordered a treadmill today for those days when I'm too lazy to drive to the gym.

Yesterday we went out to Country Floors to pick up some samples for new kitchen and powder room floors. The kitchen is on a concrete slab, so we are going with something with lots of cushion. The powder room can be more flimsy. I have been laying the samples out on the floor, and Tues. Mr. Martin will be here to measure and take them home with our choices. Shouldn't be too long before we have new floors since both are in stock. Meanwhile, we've been having our back porch floor painted. Quite a project, involving sanding down to the wood and then two coats of oil-based deck paint. We can't use the porch until Monday (maybe Sunday if not tacky), so I moved a rocker to the front of the house so I could read while Max rolled and sat in the grass.

Quilting on the Civil War quilt has been my focus this week, and is all finished. The binding has been machine sewn to the quilt, and "all" I have to do is sew the binding down! It looks great, and I'll take a photo when I can get onto the porch to do so. I am calling it "Full Duty," since around the outside border I quilted "Governor Erastus Fairbanks," "Vermont will do its full duty," and "April 15, 1861." This is the famous reply to Abraham Lincoln's request for troops after Ft. Sumter fell. And who knows? Maybe I'll make a few more quilts during this sesquicentennial.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Gone quiltin'

I started quilting my Heart of Vermont guild "square robin" quilt. The fabric went around, beginning last fall, to eight other quilters who made some beautiful blocks. Meanwhile, I was making more blocks so that I could make a full-sized quilt. I'm quilting it in three sections and will add the final border when I get the sections put together. I use the bed in our guest room as a "design wall." I have been thinking about quilting a quote around the whole outside border which will be tea-dyed muslin. Will have to do a little research first. There are three different tea-dyes in this quilt because I put some in with the "square robin" fabric, bought some more as I bought a few more pieces of Civil War fabric, and then bought another two yards when I thought I might use it for the final border. The outside border fabric is a bit stiff so I plan to quilt it more heavily than the rest of the quilt. But, as always, I will have to wait and see. So far, I'm having fun!

Log Cabin diamonds

On my admittedly small design wall today is the log cabin diamond I made after Flavin Glover's class. Will get to it eventually!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where does the time go?

It's been a good week so far - busy but not frantic. I wonder how I did all that I did when I worked. The days just slip by. I have been working on various quilt projects this week.

The Civil War sampler, including eight guild "square robin" blocks, is coming together, and I may just squeak through with enough tea-dyed muslin for the sashes and cornerstones. Big question, now that I'm putting the last row of 9" squares together - what do I do for borders? I have a lot of fabric left over but it's very scrappy. I may cut what I can into strips and sew them end to end and put them around a few times. I am leaving it in three strips so that I can quilt them and put them together later. Today I bought 8 yds. of backing fabric from the sale attic at A Quilter's Garden. I know that's too much but I hate to run out in the middle of the quilt. It isn't very Civil War-ish, but will look nice on the back. It is washed and ready to cut. Tomorrow I hope to finish the final row and put the borders together. Maybe by Saturday I'll be ready to start sandwiching and quilting.

Tuesday I spent making templates and sewing together six log cabin diamonds, just to see if I could remember what I learned in my class last week. They are of dark-ish blue "logs" around kelly green centers. The resulting star is very nice, so I may go on and make a few more. But what diamond shapes should go between them? I'll set it aside until I get inspired.

I spent quite a bit of time this week plowing through The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. In 1799, Jacob, a young Dutch clerk, is posted by the Dutch East Indies Company to a man-made island off the coast of Japan, near Nagasaki. Although he plans to spend five years making enough money to win the hand of Anna, in Holland, he falls for a Japanese midwife. There is a large number of characters and some Dutch-English-Japanese wordplay. It's fiction about an important time in Dutch history, when the Dutch were the only ones allowed to trade with Japan. I remember my Japanese friend Mari's father telling me about this back in the 7th grade. However, after about 1/3 of the book, I gave up and started in on My Life in France by Julia Child. It is pure fun!

Last night's author at the library was MT Anderson, who writes for all ages. He read the beginning of his Nurembega quartet and spoke humorously about developing websites to expand on his stories an characters. After that, we joined folks in the park for a pre-4th of July concert by the South Royalton band. Real home town stuff!

My garden downtown and my various plants around the condo all needed some attention this week. My beans are looking amazing, and we counted 22 cherry tomatoes on the plant in the container in the driveway. Guess things are catching up despite the rain.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Some antique quilts from VQF

This year's Vermont Quilt Festival had a very special exhibit of 66 antique quilts from the collection of the Vermont Historical Society. Some had hanging sleeves sewn on by me, so I was particularly happy to see them hanging. The first one was made by a Mrs. Bolster who lived in Barre. She made thisCarolina Lily quilt while her daughter made an almost identical one but with all light pink flowers. I would love to make one someday.

Mary, my "boss" at VHS said that certain quilts "spoke" to each of us. The blue and light orange "pinwheel" on the right was Sandy's favorite. She even drew up templates for it.

I was also quite taken by the baby quilt, which is an appliqued star with the center points all turned under to form a flower. The red print is appliqued onto a black and white shirting. I also love the Barn Raising quilt, one of two made with very thin strips of shirting as the light fabrics. Both are quilts for my "someday" list. The positioning of the yellow and navy fabrics really make this old quilt, in mint condition, "pop."

Favorites from VQF

The Vermont Quilt Festival had some wonderful contest quilts, which will be available at their website soon. But these were just two that caught my eye. The row-by-row is just fun and I was thinking that it might have been made in a row robin like the one I'm currently working on with an online group. The medallion applique is just plain gorgeous.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thursday at VQF

One highlight of my year is always the Vermont Quilt Festival, now held at St. Michael's College and the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction. When it was in Northfield, I could zip over every day for a while, but now it's an hour each way. It is worth it, though. I love the airconditioned classrooms and exhibit hall, and the space for more displays and vendors.

Thursday, I left home at 6:45 am (reminiscent of my working life!) so that I could register and find my classroom. I took a day-long workshop on creative log cabin diamonds with Flavin Glover who turned out to be a soft-spoken Alabama woman who hand-quilts all of her pieces. She had lots of examples to share and templates that we could photocopy and use. She also had project sheets to color on which I later found helpful in making my log cabin tumbling blocks table topper.

We could choose to make either log cabin stars or tumbling blocks. Both start with a diamond, but the stars build all the way around it, while the tumbling blocks build on two sides. All use strips cut 1.25" but the diamonds use a 1.5" center. I chose to make the table topper because I was hoping to finish by the end of class. And I did, pretty much. There were some blips due to my cutting and sewing the 1/4" seam, but it will be a nice sample for the future.

I have Flavin's earlier book on pictorial quilts using log cabin squares, and she was happy to autograph it. I hope to start working on a star quilt soon although yesterday I was completely involved in putting together the blocks from the Heart of Vermont guild's "square robin" along with some others I had made during the year. It uses Civil War reproduction fabrics, so it's quite a change from the fabrics I took to class. I need to make 11 more blocks before it's ready to put the rows together, but I made good headway. And I have plenty more fabric from that era to do some piecing on the back.

This afternoon, I'm going to help at the Vermont Historical Society booth, and (finally!) Sunday morning, Polly and I will go over to the show to see the quilts and shop the vendors.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Been busy sewing

I did a lot of sewing this week in an attempt to get ahead of some UFOs that will be coming in the next week or so. Paul had quite a few meetings, so had the car a lot. But that was fine with me. The first thing I did was make #24 of the pink and brown "Virtual Bee" blocks. I tried to upload a photo but there were "internal problems" with Blogger.

Next, I cut apart some 12" Rail Fence blocks I had made with a batch of Australian fabric strips. I ended up with 12 6" blocks that I set on point, alternating with a deep purple batik. I added a scrappy border, since that was all that I had left of the Australian fabric and decided it was a bit too small. The little top is now hanging in the closet, waiting for a yard and a half of one of the fabrics that will be the last border.

I also made 6 12" star blocks using Christmas fabric for a swap. The pattern I chose was fairly complex (oh, how I wish I'd chosen something easier!) so they took me all day. I need to get out and get some more Christmas fabric to make more sets of star blocks, but they aren't due til November, so I have stashed them in my "swap drawer" for now.

I finished making 18 6" Cake Stand blocks for another swap. I'm the hostess for this swap and will be distributing the blocks in October. This "Friendship Swap" group on Yahoo! may be my undoing as I am generating one UFO after another! I signed up for a Christmas novelty block swap also. Made 3 sample blocks but set them aside in my swap drawer for now.

Several weeks ago, at our quilt show, I bought a "Curve Master" foot for my sewing machine and today, I was determined to give it a whirl. I cut out 4 Drunkard's Path blocks in Civil War fabrics and tested it out. It works like a charm, and I hope that someday I'll be able to put a "Flip Flop" block quilt together with it.

Coming back to me this week will be my Civil War "Square Robin" from my Tuesday night guild. The fabrics have been moving from person to person for 8 months, and I have completely forgotten what was in the bag. Meanwhile, I've been making other 9" blocks using Civil War fabrics - will they go together or not? I'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Christmas in June

Today I made six 12" (finished) Christmas star quilt blocks for a swap with the Friendship Swap group. I saw a nifty but somewhat complicated block on my block-a-day calendar a couple of weeks ago and wanted to try it. I'm glad today was the day because they kept me concentrating most of the day. I needed something like that to keep from obsessing.

We've been without phone service since yesterday but only discovered it this morning. It seems the guys who installed our neighbor's cable phone cut the land lines to four houses around his house. Our cables and wires are all buried in this neighborhood, so "Dig Safe" came to show them where to dig. Guess they missed. So we are waiting for the [land line] phone company to come and repair the damage done by the cable company. I was on the phone and running from neighbor to neighbor as well as downtown to the local cable office most of the morning. The lady at the cable office very kindly said she would like to talk to me sometime about bundling my phone service with cable TV and internet, but she guessed today wasn't a good time.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A "goose chase"

On our last day in Colorado, Paul and I headed up to Boulder for lunch with Keith and John. My sister Jenny was anxious for us to see a "point of geological interest." She gave us directions to the corner of Baseline and Broadway and was very mysterious about what we'd find there. So we parked and walked around. The first place we came to was a little fire station with a little green shed behind it. That didn't seem to be the spot, so I called her. She asked if I could see a bank. Paul leaned out into the road and did, indeed, see one catty-corner across the very busy intersection.

We headed over and found what John later described as the "Mason-Dixon" line for the Kansas and Nebraska Territories. It marks the 40th parallel, which was surveyed when the territories came into being. After reading The True Adventures of Lidie Newton by Jane Smiley this winter, I know a bit more about the conflicts between slave holders and abolitionists in Kansas territory prior to the Civil War. Here I am, talking to Jenny on the phone, letting her know we did find the large rock that marks the spot. So glad I brought my phone along as this was, indeed, an interesting spot.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Home from Colorado

We got back from a week-long visit to my parents and sister in Colorado last Wednesday night and, since then, have been playing "catch up" with all sorts of things. We had a wonderful time catching up with my parents who, at nearly 89 and 85, are still engaged in a variety of activities. That's Mom coming down the steps by Clear Creek in downtown Golden.

It was in the 90's during most days and cool at night, but dry. What a refreshing change from the humid east. We all went to a play, had dinner at Jenny's, and ate at a delicious Asian fusion restaurant where the manager calls Mom and Dad "Oma" and "Opa." We were able to lend some muscle to Jenny who's having a dinner party tomorrow night by moving furniture up from her basement.

We took lots of pictures of downtown Golden with its many sculptures along the streets. We are hoping Barre can someday have more public art, so we also visited Grand Junction, about 4 hours west, to see their Main Street's public art. Both towns are really inviting. The trip west took us through Vail Pass which still was covered in snow. Along the way, we also saw a herd of buffalo and one of big-horned sheep. Jenny said in the 20 years she's lived out west, she has never seen one, so we felt quite privileged.

While at Grand Junction, we visited Colorado National Monument. About 5 miles of switch backs at either end lead up to and down from the top of a mesa with some amazing views. With every turn, all we could say was "wow." Luckily, there were places to pull off and take photos. Otherwise I might have driven right over the edge!

We also visited the Denver Botanic Gardens (lovely), the Denver Public Library (impressive), and Harriet Hargrave's quilt shop (fun). A highlight for me was a book signing by one of my favorite authors, Sandra Dallas, at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. She spoke to a packed gallery about her new book, The Bride's House, which was inspired by a house she and her husband renovated in Georgetown, CO.