Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy holidays!

"Merry Christmas" to my Christian friends and "Happy Holidays" to those who follow other religions or are nonbelievers!  I like Christmas even though I am not religious - the lights, red and green and a few other colors thrown in, the food, the ritual. 

There are a few things I usually do, such as make Chex mix, put up the tree, and light up the Christmas village.  My many Beanie babies come out of hiding, although their ranks are a little thinner this year.  I sent a batch to my niece in Holland since she has a new baby.   I always plan some nice meals, including one with friends on Christmas eve and brunch with Chris on Christmas day.  I like a low-key Christmas day, and we usually have one. 

I have only spent two Christmases with my parents since I became an adult, which is really a shame.  I hate to travel during the holidays - too much hustle bustle, too many chances of getting hung up somewhere.  But this year is especially bittersweet since Dad is gone.  I'm really glad my sister can be with Mom since the rest of us are scattered around the country.  My friend Karen, who lost her husband last New Year's Day, is heading to the Bahamas for a non-holiday with her son tomorrow.  I said to Paul and Chris, "why didn't we think of that?"  It sounds quite nice!  

The new year is right around the corner and promises plenty of fun - hoped-for trips to Alabama and the Grand Canyon, lots of quilting, our local quilt show, plays, concerts, and surprises of one kind and another.  Best wishes to you for 2015!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A baker's dozen of good books

When I review the the books I liked best in 2014, I see that many were light and involved women, some of them "of a certain age," finding their ways.  Here's the list:

Under the Wide and Starry Sky - Nancy Horan.  Amazing fictional biography of Fanny van de Grift and Robert Louis Stevenson, ranging from France to California to Samoa.

Longbourne - Jo Baker.  Pride and Prejudice as seen through the eyes of the servants.

A Single Thread - Marie Bostwick.  First in the "Cobbled Court Quilts" series.

The House at the End of Hope St. - Menna van Praag.  The house only appears to those who need it.

Lost Lake - Sarah Addison Allen.  Another mystical family story.

Through the Evil Days - Julia Spencer-Fleming.  Latest in the series featuring Claire and Russ, set in the middle of an ice storm in a remote area of the Adirondacks.

Sweet Expectations - Mary Ellen Taylor.  A young woman returns to the family bakery in Alexandria, Va., to keep it going.  (I also read The Union St. Bakery)

Goodnight, June - Sarah Jio.  Story about a Seattle bookshop run by a friend of Margaret Wise Brown.

The Care and Management of Lies - Jacqueline Winspear.  What were the women doing while the British men were off at WWI?

The House on Tradd St. - Karen White.  First in a four book series set in ghost-ridden Charleston.  I gobbled them up, one after the other.

The Long Way Home - Louise Penny.  This mystery does not disappoint a long-time fan.  Probably the best book of the year!

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good - Jan Karon.  A welcome reunion with the Mitford characters in Karon's wonderfully funny style.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs - Anna Quindlen.  Wonderful story of a middle-aged photographer finding love in unexpected circumstances.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A fall top

This fall, I coordinated an online swap of 6" fall nine patch blocks but hadn't gotten around to putting them together until we were snowed in Tuesday and Wednesday.  My personal challenge for 2015 is to use more orange, so the orange batik I bought recently pulled it all together.  I've been quilting it very simply, criss-cross style.
I have enough of the batik for the binding, and I may fuse on a few leaves from an odd fat quarter before it's done.   I like it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A nice picture

Last week, we attended a public presentation of  Barre historical documents and artifacts from the Aldrich Public Library to the collection of the Vermont Historical Society.  This was a long time in coming, but it is really going to mean better access to the items as well as better storage and preservation.   Above are three librarians and the president of the VHS - my dear friend and our public librarian Karen, Laure of VHS, me, and Paul C. the VHS librarian-extraordinaire.  I'm biased, of course, since I volunteer on Fridays at VHS.  I'm also a huge fan of our public library.  Actually, there are four librarians in the photo, if you count Paul's side, behind me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Where does the time go?

As I was coming in from taking a mountain of catalogs to the recycling bin in the garage, I noticed it was already 3:00 pm.  What on earth did I do all day?  It's another gray day - almost time to make dinner.  These days, I often wonder where the time went, but then I remembered that today I:
  - cut out 15 6" squares, divided up a few bags of candy, and made party favors for the library staff appreciation dinner tomorrow night
  - cut and ironed a large piece of backing fabric for the log cabin star quilt, folded two tops, and wrote out instructions for quilting to take to the longarmer's on Saturday if the weather is OK
  - made a blue cheeseball for the library dinner tomorrow - what a mess cream cheese can make, but I loved licking the spatulas
  - made a Cathedral Window ornament to take to quilt guild later in the month for an exchange
  - went to a neighborhood ladies' luncheon
  - shopped for food since we nearly out of flour, sugar, etc. and I am hoping to bake a loaf of artisan bread Friday or Saturday; was pleased to run into one of our Tuesday walking group while at the store - we lamented the lack of places to walk when it starts getting icy
  - sorted through said mountain of catalogs

Another day gone and no exercise to speak of.  Maybe tomorrow?  Time to sit and read til time to make dinner.  I'm nearly finished with the latest Guido Brunetti mystery set in Venice.  Very satisfying!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Toujours Paris" is done!

Yes, it is true that if you work steadily enough, you will finish a quilt top in a week or so.  I have proof!  "Toujours Paris" is ready for quilting, and took about 17 hours over several days to make.  Granted, it was a fairly simple pattern despite the fact that the post card motifs were a little skew and an odd size (those center pieces were 5 1/4" x 6 5/8").   I decided sashing would make it look even busier and like the scrappiness as it is.
Yes, it's very pink!  I had Yve look at the longarm quilter's website to choose an overall quilting pattern, and I will try to deliver it Saturday (weather permitting).  I thought I'd buy the backing fabric from the quilter and have her seam it also.  Maybe a black and white print since I still have some pink batik for the binding.
I'm looking forward to working on a few other projects in the coming days, including a few Christmas gifts.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Toujours Paris

I've been humming "I Love Paris" while cutting out the fabric for this quilt I'm making for Yvette's petitite cousine en Quebec province.  She sent me fabric with sepia-toned postcards which I felt was too somber for a little girl.  So I have added scraps of pink in various shades along with some other more colorful Parisian-themed fabrics.  It's going to be bright! 

The postcards aren't quite square  and are odd-sized, so they present a bit of a problem while cutting.  Do you think it needs sashing?  I'll show it to Polly for her opinion, too, tomorrow when she's here for Thanksgiving.

I hope to finish soon and then I'm planning to stitch in the ditch with some simple outlining of the motifs in the center of the postcards.  I may have to quilt it in sections which is OK.  Hope she likes it - I'm not planning to finish until early 2015.  Yve is the only person I do any commissions for - I just can't say "non" to her.

Monday, November 24, 2014


I made $108 on the craft fair last weekend, which is quite a bit more than I thought.  I have a lot left over, but many have a future as holiday gifts.  And as luck would have it, my Mom called the other night and asked if I could give her a baby quilt and a tote bag that she could give as gifts.  I put some potholders in, too, and all the other baby quilts are now back up on the etsy site.

Almost everything that sold had a Christmas theme, so while I am in the mood (and I usually do enjoy using Christmas fabric at this time of year), I'm making a few things for next year.  I'll get them quilted when I get a chance throughout the coming year.  I ordered a 108" piece of backing fabric for the log cabin star, and when it comes, I'll get it ready to take to the long arm quilter's.  I also added the sleeves to the body of the cardigan I'm knitting, so I feel like I'm well on my way to finishing that (only 54 rows to go...). 

Today I shopped for Thanksgiving provisions - snacks, potatoes, fresh vegetables.  I'm in charge of "sides," which I enjoymaking, and I'm ever so glad that Samantha is cooking and bringing the turkey and gravy.  Cindy will bring dessert, Polly rolls, and Vicki her mom's corn casserole.  All of us are "orphans," with family far away.  Chris is joining a friend he rarely sees, as usual in Burlington.  

Saturday I made the easiest cake ever:

Pumpkin spice cake
  Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9"x9" pan.
  Mix together a can of pumpkin and a box of spice cake.  (That's all!)  Bake about 25 min.
  When cool but not cold, pour over a glaze made of confectioner's sugar, some pumpkin pie spice, and a little apple cider.  Yum!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


It never ceases to amaze me how, when you plan to make a quilt to use up all your scraps, you end up having to buy more fabric to fill it out.  I thought I had plenty of blues and plenty of shirting to make a log cabin star quilt for Paul's great niece Tori, but I guess I never have enough fabric!  I saw a photo online and made my logs 1.5" (2" strips), for a finished quilt of about 88" x 88".  I think this is much too big for a young girl to take to college.
She's graduating from high school in June, but she may end up going to community college for the first two years.  So maybe she'll use it at home?  It is destined for the long arm quilter but I have a couple of other quilts to finish before I make the trek.  Hope I get it back by May!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


My friend Guy stopped by today to thank me for serving as campaign treasurer for his [unsuccessful] run for Vermont House.  Aren't these flowers pretty?

I enjoyed doing it, really, and it was a great way to help that didn't involve making annoying phone calls to people I didn't know!  I liked helping with honk 'n' wave events, and it wasn't that hard to file campaign finance reports really.  The Secretary of State's website works great for that.  I have one last report to file Nov. 18, and then I will give the file to Guy.  He's just going to hang on to the little amount of money that's left... for a future campaign or a good cause?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Busy days

The election is finally over, and while my friend Guy lost for Vermont House, he worked hard and did fairly well.  We can work with the guys that won and see what the prospects are for another run in two years.  I have one more campaign finance report to file for him, but we ended up in the black which is better than a friend in the city who was down to change by the end.  I was impressed by the people who gave and their good cheer.

The town forest walks are over, too, so my weeks are a little less structured.  With hunting season starting along with iffy weather,  it's better not to be in the woods. 
But we will miss the fresh air, so Paul and I are trying to walk more regularly, including some longer walks downtown.  Here, in "suburban" Barre, there are no sidewalks which make walking a little less fun, especially with snow and ice.  We have already had some snow showers along with some crisp, sunny days to balance out the gloom of November.  (The photo at left is from September)

This week I finished and bound two quilts, made a table runner, did the month's steps for a mystery quilt, and delivered all of my items to the Nature's Way craft fair which is happening next weekend.  There are 14 pot holders, 6 quilts (baby and lap), 5 table runners, two sets of 4 placemats, 3 tote bags, and two hexagonal table mats.  Phew!  It only took me 2 trips to the car and back, so not that much really.  What is nice about this show is that it's held in a home, so items are displayed as they would be in one's home.  

Coming up this week is our monthly Central Vermont Quilt Show committee meeting.  We are busy getting the guidelines for entries ready and doing behind the scenes stuff.   One question is whether or not to make or buy black curtains to hang between the quilts on the racks so that quilt backs don't distract from the front of the one on the other side.  If we decide to make them, who...?

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's stick season

My fall doorhanging is just about the only place you'll see leaves these days.  After nearly a week of rain,  most have fallen from the trees.  People call this "stick season," but it's still pretty.  Every once in a while, driving around, you pass a house where the leaves are waiting to be raked up.  They look so pretty! 

The forest is more open with its blanket of leaves.  We hope to get out tomorrow for the last walk of the season (before hunting begins).  The last few walks have been cancelled due to rain.  Yesterday the sun came out after lunch, so we went for a walk on the bike path.  Got about half a mile before getting caught in a downpour.  We turned and hustled back to the car.

I've been making stews, lasagna, and other rib-sticking meals, and we really need to put the grill under wraps for winter.  I've also been spending more time knitting and am finished with one sleeve and working on the other one for a cardigan I've been working on since August, 2012!  My quilting has been taking a back seat, although I do hope to get the "ocean quilt" sandwiched this week.  The Loyal Union Sampler and Downton Abbey/Jane Austen quilts have come back from the longarmer, too, so they need binding.  Got to get my "mojo" working!

Friday, October 17, 2014

A commission quilt

I try never to do quilts by commission because, after making a dull t shirt quilt for someone years ago, I really want to spend my time working on something I like.  But I have one friend to whom I just can't say no.  She sent me a piece of fabric with French postcards and asked if I could use it to make a quilt for a little girl's room.  The postcard fabric is beige with black, so I thought more pink would help perk it up for a child.

Attic windows seems like a solution for these rectangular pieces, and I'll add all of these fabrics in some way or other.  It's really fun how cute some Parisian fabrics can be.  That HST block on the right is the result of making the mitered corners.  I think I'll do the attic windows blocks a little differently but will still end up with some HSTs to use somehow.

Monday, October 13, 2014


The past has been much on my mind recently.  Paul and I have taken a few groups on historic tours of Barre lately, and today we went on a industrial history walk with our neighbor in Montpelier.  He had photos from the 1850's and later, so that as we walked and looked, we could imagine what an area looked like before.  Some of my recent walks in the forest have included people not from the area, so I've talked a bit more about the granite industry and how the landscape evolved, from industrial wasteland to beautiful forest with views made out of rock piles that now have plants and trees growing on them.  

And then there's family history.  My Dutch sister has posted some family photos on Facebook that I've copied and saved.  Here's one of our father and his siblings, c. 1923 - he's the cutie on the left.  I was thinking I should make up a family tree for my son, but now I'm also gathering some photos to put into a book.  I've had good luck with Shutterfly in the past.  Every once in a while, I make a photobook out of my quilt pictures which is a nice way to remember those I've given away.  The other day, I started putting it together, but now I need to go back and write captions identifying the people.  All of these people have gone, and the two boys in sailor suits fought in and passed away during World War II, so I never knew them.

This winter I hope to print out some family trees for my son to go with the photobook.  I know he won't care much now, but he will when he's my age, or perhaps when he has kids.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Busy days...

...and an occasional night!  Last night's Parks & Recreation Commission meeting got me home after 9 pm.  I was too hopped up to sleep, so I got up and read until midnight.  This morning, I got up at 6 am, fully intending to walk in the town forest, but it started pouring.  That was fine with me, as I am feeling a little lazy today.   I have been busy doing everything but quilt lately.   The foliage couldn't be more beautiful, and there are lots of fall events calling to us.  Chicken pie suppers - walks in the woods - plays and concerts!   I did make 5 potholders and finished a table runner for the craft sale in November.  I think that will do it for me - I have a lot of things all ready to sell, and I'd like to concentrate on finishing a few things now.  That includes:
  • the Austen Family Album block of the month by Barbara Brackman - I plan to have 9 blocks for this one which is a sew-along for reading/discussing The Jane Austen Quilt Club,  by Ann Hazelwood (a terribly written book which claims to be a "mystery" but is as lame a mystery as I've read in a long time).  Here's this week's block, King George's Crown, since he was king during Jane's life:
  • A very traditional log cabin quilt set in a star pattern for Paul's great niece Tori, who's graduating from high school this coming spring.  I want to send it to the long armer, so I need plenty of lead time.
  • An off-white cardigan sweater I've been knitting for two years.  This may yet be the year I wear it!
  • A batch of nine patches in fall colors.  I have some lovely batik to put between the blocks - to snowball or not to snowball, that is the question?
  • A guild challenge piece.  I'm hoping to make a mini this time, and we are to make the whole thing out of half-square triangles.  My personal challenge for this will be to use only orange fabrics since that is my least favorite color.
  • A guild mystery quilt starting soon - I have lots of Civil War fabrics set aside, but will they be OK for this?
  • And ready to quilt are a granny square throw, my "ocean" quilt (turquoise scrappy with appliqued borders), and a little house wall hanging.  I have the batting, and am waiting for one piece of fabric from Connecting Threads for one of the backs.
  • Finally, the longarmer let me know that the two quilts I took to her at the beginning of the summer are ready to pick up and then, of course, bind.  Phew!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

An amazing stretch of weather

I'm not sure when it started - Tuesday?  Wednesday I drove over to Waterbury via the interstate to meet my old friend Sue for lunch.  The fall colors were beginning to really pop, and I thought perhaps we'd have one of the most colorful seasons in a long time.  And it just kept getting better.  Friday, I took a group through the town forest and up to the Grand Lookout on Millstone Hill.  Everyone oohed and aahed.  Saturday, I took another group, much larger this time, to the Empire Lookout.  Same reaction! 

This is the time of year when we don't know where to turn next - but every view is just amazing.  I know it won't last but a few more days, but we are enjoying the color in the meantime.  It's been near 80 every day, too, making everyone smile.  This is a photo of a tree in our neighborhood.  That hazy mountain in the middle is Camel's Hump, the state's most recognizable peak.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A beautiful day

Just when we thought no one was interested in going on walks in the town forest, we had quite nice group show up this morning.  The weather couldn't have been better, and there were 9 of us all together, including two kids, aged 7, and Pierre's dog Princess.  We all stopped to soak up the sun at No. 6 Quarry on the new picnic table!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Granny square quilt top

I finished this a few days ago but my camera told me it was "exhausted."  I took this rather blurry photo with my phone on a gloomy day.  It's waiting for the fabric for the back to arrive, and then I'll sandwich and pin baste for quilting.  It's OK since I need a little time to think about how I'll quilt it.  Probably simply on a grid.

Everything except the solid black in this quilt was something I had in my stash, including lots of 2.5" strips and parts of strips from when I belonged to the monthly "Strip Club" at my LQS.   That always feels good!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall is definitely here

Friday was the day I first began to feel a change in the weather.  It was chilly, and although I still wore sandals out and about, I also wore a jacket.  After lunch with a friend at the Old Firehouse, I snuggled up under a quilt and finished reading Louise Penny's new book, The Long Way Home.  It was great!  I'm only sorry to have to wait another year for the next one.

We discovered our new furnace heated the upstairs and the basement, but not the first floor.  The service man was called but couldn't come until Sunday, so we cranked up the heat elsewhere and hoped it would warm the first floor.  Saturday was another chilly, drizzly day, but I had to venture out to help with the Lions Club disc golf tournament.  Actually, I helped with refreshments to benefit playground renovations.  And despite the predictions of rain, 13 teams of five showed up for the event.  It was great to see the mix of ages.
When I arrived, I thought we really didn't need those tents, but later in the afternoon, it started really raining, which was mid-way through the course.  I had to leave before then to go to a program (indoors) at the Vermont Historical Society, and I'm glad!
Sunday afternoon, the furnace guy arrived to connect the first floor thermostat to the new furnace.   Guess we are all set now.  As is typical, we awake to fog and chilly temperatures, with the crisp, sunny days happening later.  Everyone in Vermont loves fall!

Monday, September 8, 2014

BoBs (Bags/boxes of blocks)

I store my projects in plastic project boxes, pizza boxes, and extra large plastic baggies.  Occasionally, parts of tops get hung on hangers.  This summer I've been trying to whittle these projects down, and I'm making progress.  The only problem is that I have a tendency to start one as soon as I finish one.

I have five quilts going at the moment:

  - A block of the week to go along with the reading of The Jane Austen Quilt Club by Ann Hazelwood for an online book group.  I really hate the book, but I love Barbara Brackman's Austen Family Album blog.  Every week, she posts a brief look at Jane, her times, her family and friends.  This week's block is "Old Maid's Puzzle for Tom Lefroy," Jane's fiance-for-a-day.  I'm using pinks and greens from my stash.

- A traditional log cabin made of scrappy blues with red centers, including blue shirting, for Paul's great niece Tori who graduates from high school in the spring.  I figure if I start now, it might be done by then.  :-)

- A granny square quilt, also made of scraps from the stash.  I've made 12 blocks so far and think I need 12 more, but I need to buy some more solid black.

- The "ocean" quilt, using teal fossil fern and scrappy 2" squares, I blogged about months ago.  I finished the center, and it's hanging in the closet.  I've also finished appliqueing three of four borders, and the fourth border is all prepped and ready to sew.  The next few days are going to be sunny, so I hope to get working on it again.

 - A house quilt for which I've been collecting fabrics and have made one block.  It will have all sorts of houses with international ladies peeking out of the doors and windows, along with some "landscaping."

I am also gathering Civil War reproduction fabrics for one of my guilds' "square robins," which we do every year.  I am including two of Brackman's "Threads of Memory" blocks-of-the-month in the package.  I started doing these but didn't like two others that I made.  Those two have gone into my pizza box marked "Year's End."  Every year, I look at the orphan and trial blocks that I've collected and sometimes I put them into a quilt.  Last year I tried to use blue and white for all of my trial blocks, and over the last couple of weeks I put them together into a small throw to go to the Parkinsons Comfort Quilt Project.   I'm calling it My September BoB quilt.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Another Jane Austen quilt

My Jane Austen-themed quilt, made with Downton Abbey fabrics, is still at the long arm quilter's, but I am about to start another one using Barbara Brackman's block of the week called Austen Family Album Quilt.  There are 36 blocks in this series, so I'll be making eight or so to go along with reading The Jane Austen Quilt Club by Ann Hazelwood for an online book group.  The book offers a 12" block of its own which I made earlier this week in my pink and green scraps.  I'll be shopping my stash for this one.

I love Jane Austen, but I have to say Hazelwood is not at all at her caliber!  The language in her book is stilted, cliched and annoying.  Every other paragraph ends is "Hmmmmm."  The "mystery" occurs nearly two-thirds of the way through the book and is absolutely lame.  It's easy reading, though, so it offers plenty of time to work on a project and read other, definitely better, books.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Two red quilts

I guess I forgot to post photos of two recent small quilts.  From a nine patch red and white block swap, I had put together a twin-sized quilt.  It really looked blah to me, but I packaged it up to take to the longarmer anyway.  The more I thought about it, the less I liked it.  So I cut it up into a smaller Irish Chain quilt and a Disappearing Nine Patch with flying geese quilt.  I'm much happier now, and I quilted both of them myself.

I plan to give the Irish Chain to the Parkinson's Comfort Quilt Project and hope the other one sells at the Rustic Moose Fall craft fair.

Pinning another quilt

After finishing the two red and white quilts, I was on a roll.  I have a box that I keep trial blocks in.  When I have enough, I make a quilt using them all.  I try to use blues for my trial blocks because I seem to have more blues than any other color.  This method doesn't seem to use them up, though.  They grow like topsy!  Anyway, this year's blue sampler (for the Parkinson's Comfort Project) is ready to pin baste, then quilt.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Around the World" baby quilt

I finished quilting this baby quilt a few days ago but it was so gloomy we couldn't get a good picture.  It includes swap blocks from Australia, Canada, England, and around the US, thus "around the world."  It's a fun swap because I sent fabric to each person who made a block that signified her.  My choice this year was "Yankee puzzle," because I'm a Dutch-Indonesian immigrant who grew up in Maryland but has lived in New England for over 35 years! 

I quilted this on my home machine beginning with a grid and then adding little touches to the individual blocks.  I also added a few basket blocks, just to get it up to crib size.

I'll be participating in another around the world swap in 2015 and think I'll be making "Sisters Choice" blocks this time in honor of my two sisters - Jenny in Colorado and Jacqueline in the Netherlands.  The blocks will be 9" finished size this year, so drafting that particular block will be interesting.  I'm planning a blue and white quilt for myself this time, using fabrics I received from Carol.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Maine trip

We weren't there long and it rained hard when we arrived, but we had one absolutely gorgeus day.  It was great to see Christine and Molly (her dog) in their summer digs.
We sat along the sea wall at high tide.  As is typical for Maine, when the ocean recedes, there are rocks in this spot.  The beach is to the left in a small cove.   At York, people were surfing at high tide which was fun to watch, not that it's anything like California or Hawaii.

We also visited the lovely Wells Public Library and Arrington's Book Shop, and walked the mile-long Rachel Carson Trail along the salt marsh with views of the ocean.  Gorgeous!  Christine took us up to Kennebunkport (where the Bushes summer), down to York, and everywhere in between.  She's a great tour guide.
A picture post card day ended with a trip to Nubble Light.   Our dinner of fried seafood, fries, and cole slaw was just right.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pinned and ready for quilting

All my 6" blocks arrived from the around the world swappers, and I made a bunch of hourglass blocks to go between them.  This is looking like a sweet baby quilt!  Now to quilt it...

In the middle of putting this all together, I smelled a horrible burning smell.  My iron gave up the ghost and will have to be replaced tomorrow.  RIP Black & Decker!  You earned it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A work in progress

I laid out my "Around the World" swap blocks and then started working on a few more hourglass blocks for the edges this morning.  Now I have to figure out what to put in the triangles around the outside edge.  I think some will be white and some will be various prints used in the main part of the quilt.  I like the way this is coming together!


I put all of this past year's Heart of Vermont guild block robin blocks together and made a few more to achieve a lap-sized sampler.  I quilted it sampler-style, too, which was fun.

I'm rather bad with names for quilts, but decided I'd call this one "Where's the bird?"  Throughout the quilt are snippets of a fabric with a cute bird on it and the challenge for me was to make sure they were all going in the same direction. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This 'n' that

I haven't been blogging much this summer - too many things to do!  We hike Tuesdays, some Sundays, and some other days in the town forest.  Last week, we went on a little getaway to New London, NH, to see "Spamalot" and stay at the New London Inn, which felt like the lap of luxury.  Built in the late 1700's, the inn is on Main St., just down from Colby-Sawyer College and amid well-kept white houses with picket fences, lovely plantings, and cute shops.  The public library has a gorgeous public garden designed by the Olmsteds.  It was all very picturesque and a nice break in our routine.  Dinner at my friend's brother's Flying Goose Brew Pub was delicious, too.

In between, I've been quilting steadily on a throw, 60" x 60", made of black, white and red blocks from one of my guilds' block robins this year.  It's coming along nicely.  I am also laying out 6" swap blocks from around the world as the final block is due soon and I'd like to get them together.  It should end up as a very sweet small quilt.   Yesterday, a surprise package arrived from Janet in Indiana.  It was my SUMMER swap - everything started with one of the letters of summer, including some Satin, Useful measuring tape, a Magazine, a Mug rug made by Janet (so adorable!), Embellishments, and Rick Rac!

This weekend our town celebrates Heritage Days with lots going on downtown.   I'll be helping with the library booksale, voter registration on Main St., the coop grocery table, etc. and probably also eating lots of street food.  I hope I make it to Lenny's tent sale to look at the shoes and sandals - they are always a good buy there.  And just hoping for not-too-hot weather and clear skies for the booksale!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The famous train wreck

Ever since I started becoming acquainted with the forest around Millstone Hill, I've heard of "the train wreck."  The trail leading to it is not in the Town Forest but is part of the Millstone Trails system.  Since I've been promoting use of the forest, I hadn't had a chance to do much exploring outside.  But today Paul and I were determined to find it, and we're really glad we did.

The trail winds down behind Barre Town Elementary School into a wet gully, probably home to beavers, since the trail is known as "Beaver Run."  There's a rickety bridge to cross and then it heads back up another hill.  Winding around, the trail is generally pine-needle covered which makes it really quiet.  Toward the top of the second hill, all of a sudden something rises out of the ground, and we realized that it's an old railroad bed.  It's covered with ferns now, but once held two rows of track and still has the steel track embedded in it.  A switching device is visible, and soon thereafter, here's what we saw:

The forest has grown up all around what's left of the flatcar and the granite blocks it held.  The Beaver Run trail continues one toward Websterville Road, but we turned around to stay in the forest a bit longer.  We realized that it wasn't that long of a walk, maybe a mile, but then every walk is long if you're not sure where you're going.  We'll be coming back soon, I'm sure, with our neighbor who's a train history buff.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A circumnavigation

Last Sunday was a muggy day, but five hardy souls, three dogs, and I showed up for a walk in the town forest anyway.  I guess we thought it would be cooler out there, and it was in spots.  Whenever we encounter a pile of grout (waste granite), it's usually cool due to the frozen water deep inside.  We were crazy enough to walk all the way around the forest, 4.5 miles.  Here we are, about mid-way - Jill, me, Pierre, Rita, and Guy.  Denise took the picture, and we also had three dogs (2 moppy ones and 1 German shepherd) with us.

Too busy to blog!

We had family visit in waves around the 4th of July, so there hasn't been a lot of time to do anything more than clean, wash dishes and linens, grocery shop, and socialize.  It was also quite hot and humid much of the time, and we did quiet things whenever possible.  I did get an air conditioner for the guest/sewing room, which is quite a big help when the iron's on (which is whenever I'm sewing).

I worked on a black, white, and red sampler which went around in the guild "block robin" this year.  It only went to 8 people, so the 9" blocks needed to be supplemented.  I made a bunch of experimental blocks, including a small Carpenter's Wheel and a "disappearing hour glass," and I set the blocks in a rather haphazard way.  I'm waiting for some border fabric to come, and when I attach it, I'll quilt it myself.

I also finished putting together the red and white nine patch blocks I received in a swap earlier this summer.  I used an Irish Chain setting, with some shirting as the "solid" blocks.  While you'd think putting this together would be relatively easy, I had some trouble.  The final quilt measures 69" x 69" x 70" x 70".  Not all the blocks were the same size, and I have only myself to blame!  I mismeasured a few.  Groan!  I am hoping Lisa, the long arm quilter, can make it look OK

Sunday I'm hosting a farewell tea for Carol, former president of the state quilt guild.  She's moving to Pennsylvania to be closer to family.  We are each making a block that signifies ourself, so I made a Dutchman's Puzzle block out of Indonesian batiks.  In fact, the fabric came from a muumuu my mother bought in Indonesia.  Carol has been very generous over the years, always giving gifts of fabric to friends, and the last batch she gave me were some gorgeous Indonesian batiks in various shades of blue.  I hope to make a quilt out of them in the coming year.

Other than just plugging away at my appliqued borders on the Ocean quilt (one left to do), I've been walking twice a week in the town forest,  trying to get in a bit of yoga every day, helping to get ready for the annual Friends of the Library book sale, helping a friend with his campaign for the legislature, and more.  Life is never dull!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Busy on a sampler

At guild the other night, I showed this quilt, recently finished, and picked up my blocks from the "block robin" I was participating in all year.  Now I'm busily making more black, white, and red blocks to go with the blocks I received.
Since our fabric bag only goes around to 8 people over 9 months, we each received 9 blocks.  I had made one block over the year, and wanted to make a Carpenter's Wheel as a center medallion.  When I got the bag of fabrics back, I noticed that most of the stash was 2.5" strips that came from a "strip club" at our LQS.  What to do? 

The Carpenter's Wheel finished at 12.5" because I cut all those half square triangles down to an even 2" to get them all to fit together.  Well, maybe I need to make a few more 12.5" blocks, and then some 6.5" and 3.5" blocks, too, to go with the 9.5" ones I received from guild members!  I had set aside a pattern from Judy Martin, so tried it in my colorway.  I don't know if it was me or the pattern, but it ended up at 13", partly because the solid black triangles just didn't fit at the size Judy's pattern called for.  I cut more a bit larger.

This is going to be quite a busy quilt - it has taken on a life of its own!   I still plan to put the Carpenter's Wheel in the center but will surround it with a variety of blocks in various sizes and shapes, as well as some solid blacks to give the eye places to rest.  It will come together, eventually.

I will have to set this all aside by the middle of next week because we have house guests arriving late Thurs. night.  Before that, we are going to see Young Frankenstein, the musical, tomorrow afternoon and will attend the Vermont History Expo on Sunday.   Tuesday night we'll  help show The Lego Movie for family film night at the library. This involves setting up chairs and handing out popcorn mostly.  And Wednesday night I'll be introducing a friend at the library's Author program.  Sonja has written a nice cozy set in a fictional Vermont town, Carding, called The Road Unsalted.  Retirement sure is busy!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Another finish!

Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the large throw I finished this morning, and it is already at the longarmers!  I drove it down today along with the Nearly Insane/Loyal Union Sampler.  While in Lisa's shop, I just had to browse around and ended up taking four yards of fabric home with me.  One of them was free because I filled up my punch card (buy 10 yards, get one free - a great deal!). 

What I finished was what I'm calling "Lady Sybil's Circle," a square throw made of 9 blocks, using Downton Abbey fabric, the Lady Sybil Collection which is mostly soft blue, teal, and burgundy.  I ran out of the soft blue, so I had to order a little more for the inner border, and then surrounded it with a wider burgundy border.  I used a light lavender print that I got from Carol who is drastically reducing her stash in anticipation of moving to Pennsylvania. 

It feels so good to have a few things finished, out the door, and a little room to breathe in the quilting room!  I am busy appliqueing the borders for my Ocean quilt - two are finished, and two more need to be done.  I am going to quilt it myself, so need to be thinking about the back.  What shall I use?  I have lots of big pieces of yardage, but they don't quite go with the front.  Before I decide, though, I am just going to keep on appliqueing those vines.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Another nice morning walk

Paul, Suzy and I were joined by four others and a nice German Shepherd named Princess this morning.  We headed up the Capital Trail, past the quarry, through Cobblestone Corner, and down the Heifer Pasture trail.  There were a lot of different ferns to look at, and while it kept looking like rain, we were lucky to arrive back at the parking area dry.  Even our feet weren't too soggy.  Guess the ground is soaking up more than it was a few weeks ago.  Here's the group at the #6 Quarry:

All this outdoor activity is cutting into my quilting a bit, but it feels great to be outside, too.  I worked on a couple of tote bags this afternoon, as I wait for some light blue Downtown Abbey fabric to arrive.  When it does, I'll finish the flimsie for the throw I'm making, make the back, and get it all ready to go to the long armer.  I decided to send a few more items her way, just to clear out my "in- basket"!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Scrappy, strippy blue baby quilt

Can you say scrappy, strippy blue baby quilt ten times fast?  I kept thinking it as I was working on it, and I'm glad to say it's now finished.  I used 2" strips of every blue scrap in my box along with 2" yellow squares, mostly from my box of 2" squares to make this.  A long time ago, I copied a photo from an online group with the thought that someday I'd make one.  It was fun and easy to do, and I love the cozy blue flannel back.

After debating about whether to quilt it by going up and down the rows, I decided the simple grid would be more effective.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An exciting walk in the forest

Yesterday, Suzy, Paul, and I met at the Town Forest parking area for our Tuesday morning nature walk.  We were joined by just one person, Pierre, who told us he used to hike a lot but got out of the habit.  He had on sandals, which made me fret a bit, but we just decided to head out as usual. 

I had heard that 7th and 8th graders at the Catholic school had put up tree identification signs along the Mainline Trail, and that seemed like a good destination, especially because one of my favorite lookouts is at the trail's end.  After about an hour's nice but humid walk, with Suzy in the lead, we reached the turnoff for the Empire Lookout.  All of a sudden, we heard some loud rustling in the underbrush, and a partridge with full plumage showing rushed out.  It was quite a surprise, and Suzy came rushing over to me, perhaps for "protection"?  She's almost 6' tall to my 5'5", so I don't know what I could have done. 

At any rate, the bird flew several yards away toward the quarry and sat, giving us the evil eye.  Then we heard some faint cheep-cheeping, just as we were about to continue up to the lookout.  A baby chick emerged from the leaves just inches from Suzy's foot, giving her another good scare.  The momma (?) bird next charged our whole group, and we ran up the trail toward the lookout.  It was quite an amazing thing, and everything happened so fast. 

We stayed up on the Empire Lookout (that's me, above), which is really a pile of waste granite blocks that has overgrown with trees and pine needles, for quite some time, to allow the partridge family to relocate or settle down.  Then we headed along the Mainline Trail where the signs were, indeed, very nice.  Here, Suzy takes a picture of the sign for the black cherry tree, which was huge.  I wonder if it actually has cherries?  We'll have to keep an eye on it during our walks this summer.

Last Sunday Samantha led us on a very long and winding walk along the Locomotion Trail.  What will Denise have up her sleeve this Sunday?

Friday, May 30, 2014

My Ocean Quilt in the making

This quilt is from American Patchwork and Quilting magazine, April, 2014.  It's called "Stamp of Approval" because it uses postage stamp-sized blocks (1.5") to make 16 patches.  I adapted the blocks to use 2" squares which I accumulate in a plastic shoebox.   After making all those blocks, my box is now only about half full which is nice.  Some rainy day I'll cut little scraps into 2" and 2.5" squares.  They are very useful for all kinds of projects.

My Ocean Quilt's background uses a teal "fossil fern," and the center is about 60" square.  Now I'm working on the appliqued borders which will be a little airier than the original - bigger, too, since this quilt calls for 3" borders and mine are 6".  In the corners I have repeated the 16 patches.  It's coming together great - and I have only two more borders to applique.   Then there will be a big dilemma:  how to quilt it?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Making progress

"Piano keys" quilt borders are a great way to use up leftover fabric, but they sure are tedious to cut and sew together.  My Nearly Insane/Loyal Union Sampler is almost together, though, due to a little marathon sewing and cutting.  I have the top and bottom borders cut, too, and quilt blocks for the corners.  But now it's time to sit and enjoy the rest of the day.  This morning, I edged the front flower bed, planted some tomatoes and parsley (some in containers, two in the ground).  While I was working out front under the flowering crabapple tree (in full bloom!), the buzz of bees was amazing.  There appeared to be a bee on every blossom.  Spring has sprung!  Chris is coming over later for our first BBQ of the season.

Hope you're having a great weekend, too!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Just plain busy

Since we got back from Provincetown, we've been on the run most of the time.  I am falling behind in my Austen Family Album block of the week, and I decided to wrap up my Loyal Union Sampler  with just four blocks to fill in what I had.  I knew I would tire of this project, so early on I resolved to make a Nearly Insane block each week, too.  Now I have 48 blocks, set diagonally with solid gray fabric in between the blocks.  This makes them really show up.  Here's my final block, A House Divided:

I spent the last few days putting all the center blocks together, and finished today.  It took some concentration!  I put a 1.5" border around and am now working on "piano keys" for the outer border.  That takes some time and quite a bit of cutting.  I need to cut a little more tomorrow so that I might actually get one side on.  It's turning out quite nice - think I'll take it for long arming, though, since the plain blocks need something curvy.

I'll be teaching an applique class on vines, leaves, and circles next Saturday, so the rest of the week I'll need to spend a little time pulling things together.  It should be fun, and offers some motivation to work on the appliqued border for my "ocean" quilt.  I have three quilts waiting for borders.  That seems to be where UFOs are born in my studio these days!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

An inspiring talk

Yesterday's spring meeting of the Green Mountain Quilters Guild featured a great speaker, Michele O'Neill Kincaid from New Hampshire.  She talked about how she evolved into an art quilter, beginning with a little patchwork doll quilt when she was 8.  She showed a quilt her grandmother made and, later, a reproduction she made of the same quilt.  My favorite in the vast array of pieces she showed was one of poppies.  The centers were heavily embellished with beads, and it was about 2' x 3'.  I would love to take a class with her and noticed she teaches something called "free form machine piecing."  Getting out of the usual linear quilting and doing more improvisational work would be fun and, I think, would appeal to members of our local guild. 

Besides the program and business meeting, we had a fabulous teacup auction.  My friend Carol who is moving to Pennsylvania had a vending table, and she very generously gave me a mountain of Christmassy batiks to go with ones I already have and some Indonesian fabrics.  I also bought half a bolt of lavendar print from her.  It will make a great back.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Cape

We took a little trip to Cape Cod early in the week - three nights.  I always worry about driving through Boston even though the route is straight.  There's a long tunnel under the city with four lanes of travel and exits going left and right.   Then there's just stop-and-go along the way.  Sunday was no picnic, but once over the bridge and onto the Cape things thinned out.  I guess everyone was going to the beach for Mother's Day since it was gorgeous weather.

We drove to the very tip and stayed in Provincetown for my first time on the Cape.  Our B&B was right in the heart of things, with restaurants, shops, wharves, and historic sites nearby.  Monday, we walked to the top of the Pilgrim Monument - quite a hike, but quite a view.  In the museum at the base, we learned that the Pilgrims first landed near Provincetown, choosing to head closer inland after discovering there was not enough potable water and land suitable for farming.  The town cemetery holds graves of many notables who summered or lived there year-round, including Norman Mailer and artist Robert Motherwell.  In the afternoon, we took a dune tour which was fantastic - the highlight of our stay.

Tuesday, we drove over to the National Seashore's visitors center and also visited a restored lifesaving station.  Men took turns staying there during the winter months to rescue sailors on ships that had run aground.  It was remote but very beautiful.  A walk through the east end of Provincetown turned up homes of some famous authors (e.g., Susan Glaspell) and dramatists (Eugene O'Neill), as well as a lovely little garden.  We had some very nice meals in local restaurants and just dipped into the shops along Commercial St. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Finally, spring!

The daffodils are finally blooming, but I don't have the heart to leave them outside for others to enjoy.  Had to pick a few to add to my Primo Maggio carnations!