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.