Monday, October 16, 2017

Reading!

According to "Good Reads," I have read 59 books this year so far.  My year's goal was 62 books.  But I think they count the ones I didn't read all the way, which is fine with me as some of those took quite a bit of time to get to the point where I couldn't stand reading anymore.

Recently I have been embroiled in a number of books by authors who all seem to publish their books in the fall each year.  Sue Grafton's Y is for Yesterday was just terrific.  I will miss Kinsey when her series is over, and I am curious to see what Grafton offers for her in Z is for...  I also loved Jan Karon's To Be Where You Are, her 14th Mitford book.   Somehow, I found the writing more delightful than the past few books.  A reader can get frustrated by her switching characters between chapters without telling you who's narrating, but about mid-way through the book, you get used to it.  Father Tim always saves the day, in his own way.

Louise Penny, who lives just over the Quebec border from Vermont, came out with an excellent Glass Houses this fall.  A mysterious being arrives on the village green and silently watches.  Who is he/she/it after and why?  Again, the wise and kind Inspector Gamache handles it all.  Penny has a wonderful way of building suspense and, although I try to savor her annual books, I find myself turning pages quickly to find out what happens next.

I enjoyed Jenny Colgan's The Bookshop on the Corner, a light romance about a young woman who leaves busy London and sets up a traveling bookshop in Scotland.  I would love to visit Scotland someday, and small village cozies set there really are fun for me.  And I discovered a couple of new-to-me authors this summer that I will keep looking for.  Dawn Lee McKenna was recommended by Karen and writes about a rural part of Florida that I am intrigued with, and Kelley Armstrong, known for her fantasies, has also been writing mysteries set in an off-grid town in the Yukon that shelters people who don't want to be found for one reason or another, beginning with City of the Lost.  I can't wait for the third book in the series.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Lots done, nothing to show!

Some time ago, I started making the weekly Moda "Blockheads" blocks.  They're six inches and some have been quite challenging.  I even converted a few to 9" just because of the challenge.  I think I've made 25 or so, and, as is typical of me, I'm tired of working on them. 

Last week, I swapped out six inch  Sylvia's Bridal Sampler blocks from an online swap I hosted, and that garnered 25 more blocks.  Together, I have about 60, with some orphans I've had hanging around.  I laid them all out, and they look great with the black and red print I bought for a thin (one inch or so) sashing.  Yesterday while I was at A Quilters Garden, I noticed that the bolt is getting low, so I bought another yard "just in case" (famous last words!).  I'll get them all together after we get back from Colorado on Halloween.

Meanwhile, I finished hand quilting Atlantic Crossing, the Deb Tucker wallhanging I started in the summer of 2016.  It really didn't take me that long once I got going, and now I'm stitching the binding down onto the back.  It looks good, but I think I'll hang it once it's done to get the wrinkles out before I hang it at Westview Meadows in November and December.  We're hanging that show November 2, so I have everything else ready to go.

The photo is a sample for an international swap I'm participating in during 2018.  I made a couple for the group to choose a Missouri Star pattern from.  But I also made one to go in my guild "Block Robin" swap bag this week, too.  That one has a black on white background with orange and yellow accents.  It's a small group, so we'll each be making three blocks per month as the bags go around. 

We're leaving Saturday for ten days, so if I am at a loss for something relaxing to do, I'll stitch the binding down on Sister's Choice.   I don't really want to start something new before we head out to Colorado.  I'm looking forward to doing some sightseeing, meeting some old friends for lunch, and meeting up with someone I've been swapping with for a few years.  I know the time will just fly by.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Wrestling with a quilt, helping a neighbor

Looking through my quilt project journal, I noticed that I started making Sisters Choice on June 1.  I have tried to keep up with blocks of the week for the Moda Blockheads program (sometimes 3 or 4 at a time), and a few smaller things.  But mostly I've been working on that quilt all summer.  It took three weeks to quilt the center, and now I am finally finishing up some log cabin borders that I'll need to quilt.  I rue the day I decided to quilt it in sections as it seems so unwieldy now.  I will be adding the last border and then will add more batting and backing fabric to all four sides.  Only then will I be able to quilt it.  Next time, I'll try to quilt the whole thing once it is put together and,  perhaps, not do the tedious 1" grid crosshatch that took me so long in the center.

My online swap group has decided to swap 12" Missouri Star blocks in 2018, and I volunteered to write the guidelines.  There are several methods of making this block, so I've been testing them out.  The one at http://www.quilterscache.com is paper pieced, which I'm not wild about doing, especially if we're making 15 or so blocks.  But we found several rotary cut directions that may work, and my trusty Judy Hopkins Around the Block Again book has one, too.  It's a nice block.

For the same online swap group, I swapped 6" blocks from Sylvia's Bridal Sampler out over the weekend and took two trips to the post office to mail them back to people.  The blocks are really nice, and mine should go well with the Moda Blockheads blocks.  As I've been working on the Sisters Choice quilt, I've been thinking about sashing and settings.  Navy blue?

Most of yesterday was spent helping neighbor Manny with a PowerPoint presentation.  He and Paul are doing a program on the earliest settler of Montpelier, Col. Jacob Davis, on October 16.  I've already transferred Paul's photos to .ppt slides, so I have become more adept at using Microsoft's Picture Editor feature.  I spent the morning putting Manny's photos into .ppt format, and then we spent some time discussing what to keep/take out and how to use PPT itself.  It's been interesting.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

My first juried show

"The Fabric of Our Lives" officially opened on Sunday afternoon with a reception that was quite well attended.  I had no idea how many pieces were chosen for the exhibit; there were 12-15, so my "Blue Orange Peels" (beyond the crowd in this picture) had a lovely spot just as you walk in. 

The historic Waterbury Grange hall is slowly being renovated, and the owners plan to leave many of the features as they are.  The stage is small but high enough for a band, and the walls have been stripped down to plaster.  The light is great due to the tall windows.

There were some interesting pieces, including a couple of quilts made of old sweaters and fleece jackets; very realistic stuffed animals made of fake fur, canvas, and embroidery; an intricately woven throw; and some abstract canvases made of pieces of Aran sweater and of straight pins interestingly arranged.

Paul took several nice photos, and I do think the blues look great against the rough walls.  The show continues through November.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The teal mini swap

My friend Sonja told me about a swap in support of ovarian cancer research.  The organizer of the Teal Mini Swap sends each participant a small piece of teal fabric and the name of another quilter somewhere in the country and Canada.  We are to make and send a mini quilt or mug rug to our partner some time during September, which is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month.  Some of our $15 contribution goes toward this worthy cause which is also a fun way to meet quilters around the country.

I was matched with Valorie from Oregon, and her package arrived a couple of days ago.  Wow!  Here's the mini:
Funny - I was thinking of using the exact same pattern for her mini!  Guess we were well matched.

Valorie also sent me some other goodies - a lovely knitted tote bag with felted wool accents and bright buttons; a mug rug; a little "Quilting" book; and a very cute, colorful pincushion.  The pincushion is made of ribbon sewn together - very cute.

Here's what I sent to Valorie:
I had fun choosing colors of the rainbow for this (one of the star pieces is lime, not yellow), and while I did some machine quilting, I added some accent hand quilting in the star.  What a fun swap, and for such a good cause.

Last Tuesday walk of the season

The Tuesday morning walkers went out of the Town Forest yesterday to go up the Grand Lookout Trail.  It's a relatively easy walk with a slight incline and an amazing view at the end.  It has been hot and humid for the last few days, so the morning fog has been slow to burn off.  From the Grand Lookout, we could still see very low hanging clouds and not as much fall foliage as we had hoped.  Still, there are some amazing trees turning red, losing their chlorophyll.

After we reached the parking lot, we had a little tail gate party.  One of the walkers, Pam, often says when we reach some nice spot, "this would be perfect if there was a cappuccino bar."  Paul and I produced a cooler with some "Frappacino" drinks (very sweet) and gluten-free muffins (two of our walkers are GF).  It was the perfect end to a very nice summer of walks!


Monday, September 25, 2017

Nothing to show

I have been quilting the Sister's Choice quilt center for several weeks and finally the end is in sight.  It's crazy because it's not very big - only crib sized at this point.  The 20 blocks are set on point with plain blocks in between.  I did some curvy quilting in the Sister's Choice blocks along with stitch in the ditch, and then I did a 1" grid in the setting triangles, which was tedious.   Now I need to mark and quilt the plain blocks for free motion quilting.  I will clean my machine while I'm at it. 

After I finish (this week sometime?), I will set the quilt aside while I work on a few other projects:
  1.  a row robin that just arrived from Pat
  2.  the guild block of the month
  3.  the Moda Blockheads blocks of the week I have missed (3 or 4)
  4.  appliqueing the borders for Sister's Choice by machine using David Taylor's method
  5.  hand quilting the Atlantic Crossing wallhanging for the show at Westview Meadows in November
Phew! 

I sometimes wonder where my time actually goes, but then I remind myself that quilting is a hobby and doesn't need to be done at top speed.  I can take my time with some projects (even though it's nice to finish one once in a while).  Meanwhile, I've been engrossed in several good books lately, including Y is for Yesterday (Sue Grafton), Glass Houses (Louise Penny), and the latest Jan Karon (on my Kindle so I forget the title!).   Chris helped me wash all the windows in the downstairs inside and out on Saturday.  I also packaged and mailed quilts to my former mother-in-law and to an old high school friend who has weekly dialysis.  I have another to pack and mail to my nephew.   I'm happy to be slowly down-sizing - translation... making room for more!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Doing the math!

I have mentioned that I've been invited to show my quilts at a senior residence in November and December.  While my brother was here, he helped me pick out quilts to show.  However!  at that time, I thought I only had 9 ft. of wall space to fill.  Hence, I chose three wallhangings for that space.  In re-reading my notes (thank goodness I took some!), I see that I have 19 ft. to fill.  OMG!  That is 228 inches!

I decided to add the Civil War sampler (65") and another small quilt (37") to the mix.  And luckily, they have sleeves all sewn on.   That will allow about 6" of space between each quilt, which I had forgotten to take into account. 

I've made good progress with hand quilting Atlantic Crossing, partly because it's been quite sunny lately.  It's actually too hot to quilt out on the porch, but just fine inside.

Now to buy a couple more curtain rods and some picture hanging wire.  I will have to rummage around for wire cutters and write descriptions of the quilts for labels, too.   This show is a lot more work and worry than just hanging three quilts up at the library.  I'll be glad when everything's hung and I can quit obsessing!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Waterbury Grange show

Last night we braved commuter traffic (so many cars heading toward Stowe!) to deliver my Blue Orange Peels quilt to the old Grange hall in Waterbury Center for the "Fabric of Our Lives" show.  What a nice surprise to see two people I knew, also dropping off pieces.   I am still puzzled about why they chose the more traditional of the two quilts I entered, but I guess I'll find out more when I attend the opening reception October 1. 

It looks like the hall is still a work in progress, with unpainted walls and new stairs.  Paul said the floor looks great, though, and many old Grange halls show a lot of wear from dancing and various gatherings.  Artwork will be hung from the ceiling, which has a suspended grid and will work well for quilts on dowels or curtain rods.  Now that the quilt has been delivered I'm really feeling excited about being chosen!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Yet another rainy day

I don't really mind rainy days - I have lots of good books to read and quilts to make.  And because it's nearly fall, I have things I'd like to cook.  I started the morning making a Greek orzo salad for the Democrats' picnic tomorrow.  Here's the very easy recipe:

Cook a box of orzo, drain, and cool slightly
Chop and put into large bowl:
    1 c. tomato
    1 c. green pepper
    1 c. onion (or scallions)
    1 c. feta cheese
    a goodly amount of fresh parsley (if you don't have any, some dried will do but not the same)
    any other vegetables
Mix and add in 2 small cans of sliced black olives, and then the orzo

Mix up the dressing and pour over:
     1/2 c. lemon juice
     1/2 c. olive oil
     salt and pepper to taste
Chill and serve.  It makes quite a bit and is even a nice vegetarian meal on a hot day.

Then, for something more in keeping with the season, I made a large pot of spaghetti sauce with meat.  It has lots of spices, including thyme, rosemary, basil, bay leaves, oregano, and marjoram and will cook most of the morning before I put some in the freezer for later.  In order to do that, I then cleaned out the freezer to make room.   It's only the bottom part of the refrigerator, but stuff can sure get buried away.  I even took out a Dutch pastry that I saved for Christmas and never got around to serving.  I hope it tastes OK but am not going to bank on it!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Getting ready for shows

I entered two quilts into an art show called "The Fabric of Our Lives."  I had no idea what to include
in the Artist's Statement which was kindly returned to me by the show organizer because I really didn't say how my pieces fit the theme.  I realized what I had said was all the mechanics of how I put the quilts together, what patterns they are, etc.  I moved that stuff, so important to me but not to viewers, to a space for "other information" and wrote 75 words relating each quilt to the theme.   This one I renamed E Pluribus Unum, "out of many, one," which is quite appropriate for a mashup of scraps.  I think that was somewhat of a stretch, but apparently what the organizers are looking for.  They will contact me by Sept. 10.  Meanwhile, I have sewn hanging sleeves on both quilts.

Then there's a show I will be doing at a senior community in Nov. and Dec.  Today I sewed a few more hanging sleeves on.  It isn't difficult but just takes some time.  Luckily, it rained all day, so I stayed cozy on the couch sewing and watching cooking shows on TV.  I have a few smaller pieces that need sleeves for dowels, and I'll have to get some picture hanging wire for them, too.

And of course there's hand quilting and finishing my Atlantic Crossing wallhanging for the show.   I'm half-way around the alternating geese border now.  Will I be able to get the burgundy I need for the binding?  Hope so!  I want to have all of this, a price list, and an artist's statement ready for the hanging before we head to Colorado in mid-October.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Life is short

I got word yesterday of another high school classmate's passing.  Our class was large - 618.  But L. stood out for his excellent academic record and his athletic prowess.  Sixth in our class (I was #24, right ahead of the guy who was voted "most intelligent"), L. did well in football, basketball, and baseball.  He was a quiet, private person.  I asked a friend what happened:

Turns out L. died in his sleep, sitting on his favorite recliner. Between us, please, L's life was rough with alcoholism being a contributing factor.  L. died pretty much a pauper. Such a brilliant man reduced to such a humble existence. Breaks my heart.  But L. had such love and hope in his heart. Always positive. Always encouraging others. Very religious all of his life.

I always thought that L. went off to college in PA on a full scholarship. Turned out, it was a football scholarship, he got injured his freshman year, lost his scholarship, returned home and worked to put himself thru the UMD to earn his degree. Later, he earned a Masters at UNT. I can't help but think that, being 6th in our class, he could have easily gotten an academic scholarship, for sure. But L. was so self-effacing, he probably didn't give that a thought.


...He came from very humble beginnings, and all of us in West Rockville knew that his parents were poor, but he was a leader among us. We looked up to him and his quiet dignity and would have followed him thru Hell.

A long time ago, I had a form letter from L., asking for money because he was down and out.  I was a single mom at the time, trying to make ends meet in my fixer-upper.  So I couldn't help him.  I thought at the time how sad it was that he felt he had to do that.  He had appeared so capable and had such promise, but  deep inside he was just like the rest of us.  He was married a few times, had three kids who seem to be doing well, and was friends with his ex-wife from whom he rented a room.   I imagine his strong faith got him through a lot of ups and downs.   But his is still a sad story, and I am counting my blessings.  Mine may not have been the most exciting life, but keeping my head down and going about my business have worked for me.   My health is good, I have love and friendship, and lots of food for the mind and spirit.  What more, really, do we need?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Walking in the forest

We haven't had as much rain lately, so for Tuesday morning's walk in the town forest, I proposed taking a trail we haven't used this year because it tends to be wet.  Going along the Mainline trail to look at the tree identification signs put up a few years ago, we ended up taking a slightly backwards route to the Empire Lookout.
This is a little dark, but we had nine people, including six from our neighborhood.  Nancy, Suzy, and Chris live elsewhere in the city or town, and we are a fairly congenial group which welcomes new people.  You can see that most of us wore jackets because the mornings have been in the 40's lately.  But the sun came out on the way back to the parking lot, and it got fairly warm.  We took a winding route back that climbed up past the Little John Quarry, and then walked along Pierre's field to a part of the VAST trail we rarely use. 

I will be sorry to see the walks end at the end of September and wonder where we can go to get such great conditions.   Even though we have to watch for tree roots and stones in the forest, the dirt trails are cushiony underfoot.  The mall is dull and its tile floor is hard;  downtown is OK except for the traffic; the neighborhood or the treadmill get old really fast.  

Next week, weather permitting, we'll try Rauli's Run, a new trail for beginning bikers.  Should be interesting.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Late summer company

My Wisconsin brother, Axel, was here for 9 days, and we've been keeping him busy most of the time.  Now that he's gone, he's keeping me busy with laundry and chores that didn't get done while he was here.  We visited a variety of museums and galleries, shopped for souvenirs a little, had some good meals, and walked in the town forest, albeit slowly since he uses a cane.
We watched his intake of food as he needs to lose quite a bit, so tonight we're treating ourselves to some peach-blueberry pie.

While Axel was here, he helped me figure out which pieces to include in a show at a Montpelier retirement community this November and December.  There are two walls, one 10' long and the other 19' long.  The shorter one has some furniture in front of it, so I plan to put only one quilt there.  I'll put three smaller quilts/wallhangings on the longer wall and then three mini pieces on the support part of the wall that juts out between the two walls.

Now that those decisions are made, I have to finish hand quilting my Atlantic Flyway wall hanging and put hanging sleeves on a couple of the quilts.  I also decided to enter two other small quilts in a different show, "The Fabric of Our Lives," in Waterbury Center Sept. 27 to Nov. 21.  One of those needs a sleeve, too.  And I'll have to inventory my collection of curtain rods and dowels.  Wow!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pinwheels


Another UFO got finished last week.  This is the pinwheels quilt I made using a couple of "Boundless" charm packs and some leftover white fabric.  I like the striped binding best of all, although the striped yellow flannel back is very nice, too.  I quilted it very simply and sturdily so that it can be washed frequently.  If I don't take it to the library to raffle off, I'll take it to the flower/craft shop downtown for sale.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Quilters' bus triip

Saturday, I was up and out the door before 6:30 am to meet Jan and Marilyn at the Park 'n' Ride.  I drove Jan's car to Lebanon, NH, where we met a group of other quilters bound for Massachusetts.  The trip was arranged by the Northern Lights Quilt Guild, and it left slightly early.  Guess we quilters are an eager bunch. 

Our first stop was the Quilted Crow in Bolton, MA, where we were greeted with coffee, lemonade, goodies, and a free fat quarter.  The rather large store offers a variety of styles, from Kaffe Fasset to Jo Morton, including a great selection of hand-dyed wool.  We were all like kids in a candy store, and the line to cash out was long but offered a nice opportunity to chat with some of the people we were traveling with.  I got some fat eighths and a scrap bag of wool before heading out onto the lawn to eat a sandwich.

Our driver ably navigated what looked like a very busy highway to get us to Lowell, MA, and  the New England Quilt Museum.  The town was the site of many textile mills and still retains some cobbled streets and abandoned brick factory buildings in its downtown.  The museum used to be a bank and has enlarged its exhibit space since I was there about 20 years ago.  Its two shows were fabulous. 

First was an exhibit of the best quilts from various guilds throughout New England.  Viewers were asked to vote on their favorite, and next year the winning guild will be invited to show there.  Most of the quilts were fairly traditional, so I loved them!  This New York Beauty features a lovely border design.  My favorite quilt was a sampler, mostly paper-pieced, of Cape Cod, but it was difficult to stand back far enough for a photo to do its justice.

The other exhibit was called Threads of Resistance and depicted some very creative, yet often angry scenes related to our country's current political situation.  One consisted of many colored squares with a hot pink pussy cat hat front and center.  Another showed an American flag with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, noting that patriotism means supporting the country but not necessarily the president.

After the museum (which has a great gift shop!), we wandered down to a couple of art galleries which had special quilt-related exhibits, including one with quilts on the theme of "the little black dress." 

The National Park Service Visitors Center offered an overview of the sites, which are all fairly walkable, including the artist Whistler's home, now a museum.  Jack Kerouac, who also grew up in Lowell, was featured on a panel, and I was pleased to see several familiar books about nearby Lawrence's Bread and Roses strike.  I would have enjoyed a full day in Lowell, but we had to board the bus at 3:30 to get us home before 7 pm.  All in all, it was a very fulfilling day, a true quilters' holiday.

Friday, August 4, 2017

"Be My Neighbor" quilt

It's finished!  What follows isn't the best photo since I took it with my phone indoors. 
But I'm pleased with the way this swap quilt turned out.  Each person made two blocks, which were somewhat large so fairly easy to do.  Several of the 16 blocks have birds, others have simple flowers, and all have just a hint of yellow in them.   The pattern was a block of the week from Moda.

I used cream fabric between the rows and as borders and then used a yellow binding to tie all the other yellows together.  I need to measure it, but it is a good-sized throw, simply quilted, mostly in the ditch.  I did use some of my machine's fancy stitches here and there for fun.  I tried a couple of houses before settling on fabrics for swapping, so there are two extra blocks on the back with signature blocks of those participating in the swap in the windows.  I wrote the block numbers on the signature blocks so I have a key to look at later.  I love the fabrics everyone used.

My Moda Blockheads blocks of the week have piled up in the meantime, so this afternoon I made this week's block.  Tomorrow I'll try to catch up with the two or three others I have missed while working on Be My Neighbor.  It's so nice to finish something!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Birthday fun

I belong to an online group in which we swap fat quarters on our birthdays.  I received a package of FQs from Althea in Wyoming a few weeks ago, and I was happy to open it yesterday.  I had requested neutrals or shirtings, and the variety is just wonderful.  I will enjoy using them all for quilts projects, including cotton and wool applique backgrounds.

It was a fun day.  I made an easy coconut cake which turned out delicious:
  1.  Bake a white cake in the 13" x 9" pan.
  2.  When warm, poke holes in the cake with a fork.  Spread coconut cream (the kind you find in the bar section of the grocery store for pina coladas) over the top.
  3.  When cool, frost the cake with Cool Whip (I suppose whipped cream would be fine, too, although one of my guests has lactose issues).
  4.  Sprinkle sweetened shredded coconut over all.
  5.  Store in refrigerator.

Cindy, Sandy, and Chris joined Paul and me for a cookout later in the day.   There were some rumbles of thunder before they arrived, but the sky cleared right as Paul was about to go grill the burgers.   I made a Caprese salad and coleslaw (with grated apple and Craisins), Sandy brought her own delicious tabouli, and Cindy brought chips.  Delish!  and good company to boot.  Everyone was willing to take some cake home, too, which left us with a manageable amount.

I spent quite a bit of the day quilting my Be My Neighbor quilt and hope to put the two quilted sections together late today or tomorrow.   Quite a nice birthday!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Another successful booksale

After we take the big tent down this morning, the annual Friends of the Library summer booksale will be but a memory... thank goodness!  It's a lot of work and, even though I've been trying to cut down on my involvement, it was an exhausting weekend.  Thursday we put up the donated tent on the library's side lawn with a crew of people.  Some worked on the big tent and others on the smaller ones until we were all needed to put the cover on the "skeleton."  We are hoping to rent a larger tent next year because the company will put it up and take it down for us.  Age is a factor for our Friends group, and we all agreed it would be worth it for us each to pay $10 toward this effort!

An army of volunteers put the books out later in the day so that they would be ready for an early start Friday.  Because I volunteer at the state historical society Friday mornings, I "only" worked at the booksale Friday afternoon.  But business was brisk as you can see.  I was good and only got four books this time, including one interesting quilt sampler book.
Saturday morning early (beginning at 6 am!) the library trustees helped with the Rotary Club's annual pancake breakfast, also on the library lawn, but around front.  I helped put table cloths and condiments on the tables before going home for a breather.  Paul and I headed back downtown late morning to help with the booksale, and we stayed "til the last dog was hung" (an old Vermont expression), helping with clean up after giving away books at the end.  We had thought about eating dinner downtown as many of the restaurants were offering ethnic specials and the street food is good, too.  But instead we went home and ordered a pizza.  My feet and brains were too tired to do much more. 

Today, refreshed, we'll go down and help take the tent down and wait for a report on how much we made.  The money goes toward library programs and books for all ages, so it's well worth the effort.  People look forward to it every year, and it's a great gathering place.  I saw several old friends there which is what Heritage Days is really all about.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Top is done



I've been building each block made in the guild round robin and blocks of the month into 12" sizes to set together.  It looks a little haphazard in the photos but I think it will make a very colorful quilt for our bed - 84" x 94" give or take.  I'm going to ask Marie if she'll quilt it for me, but I'm waiting for the gray floral backing fabric to arrive from Connecting Threads.

Now I'm onto my blue and yellow Dutch Sister's Choice top!  I have the plain squares that are going between each square all cut and laid out.  Today I hope to put them all together and ready to quilt.  I hope to machine quilt it myself, so wish me luck!  Once I have the center quilted, I'll machine applique and put the borders on and then quilt them.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Vermont Quilt Festival

It was weeks ago, but I am still studying the photos of some of the quilts I saw at VQF.  The festival website has not yet been updated, but it should have this year's winners and all the contest quilts up eventually.  Here are a few of my favorites.

 I was looking hard at border designs, especially appliqued ones, and I just love the red and white "infinite variety" quilt.   The setting was so unique!



Monday, July 10, 2017

Sharing a couple of photos

I have been working on the guild "block robin" blocks I received in June lately.  Last year, I got about 4 yards of a pink and purple batik.  Half went into the block robin bag along with some purple and hot pink scraps and fat quarters.  I kept the other half to make blocks of the month.  Now I have 30 blocks, for a 5' x 6' quilt, which is a little too small.  So I'm making 13 more blocks this week.  Hope to get them done by the weekend so I can put them together.  We'll see!

Meanwhile, my brother Rob was here over the weekend.  I cleaned my sewing room up so he could sleep in it.  We had a great time, hiking, roaming around downtown, and just catching up.  I had been waiting for another tall person to come and help Paul hold up the 365-challenge-inspired quilt I finished a while ago so that I could take a picture.   Every time Chris comes, I forget or it's raining.

This quilt is made using all blue and green scraps which I thought would deplete my stash.  Unfortunately, the bins are just as full as ever!  I like that large star block which came from a tutorial at the Missouri Star site.  It was easy to make - although of course Jenny Doan uses a jelly roll for hers.

I like quilting medallion quilts because you can anchor the rounds and then work on each round separately.  This fits a double bed, so it did take some time to finish quilting.  

I also had the guys hold up the crib-sized quilt I made using swapped heart blocks.   I enjoyed quilting this one, one block at a time.  The sashing is pieced using two mini charm packs and some additional 2.5" squares that I cut in pastel colors.  I plan to add both of these quilts to the etsy shop initially and then, if they don't sell, take the heart block to the hospital's children's department.

I'm not sure if I'll quilt the pink batik quilt myself or send it off for quilting.  Because it's a sampler, I think it will look good with an overall, edge-to-edge design.  If I do quilt it myself, I think it will be easier to do in sections.  Will have to wait until all the blocks are finished and I decide on a final layout.

I sent Rob home with my modern Tequilla Sunrise quilt for his office.  It is always nice to reduce my stash of quilts!


Thursday, July 6, 2017

The 4th of July


We really didn't think many people would join us on our usual Tuesday morning walk in the Town Forest on Independence Day, but we had ten plus a very nice dog, Max.  The weather was wonderful - sunny, low humidity, clear, breezy.  Because the trails are still a bit wet, I chose the Mainline because it has some gravel and usually doesn't get as muddy.  There were some wet spots, and we took a turn onto the Boulder Dash trail to get to Little John Road more quickly.  From there we walked over to the Empire Lookout where Lois can see her old house.  We took the Upper Mainline trail back, and then I suggested taking a short cut through disc golf tee #4 to get to the VAST trail down to the parking lot.  It's almost all rock, so dry.  Even though I was toward the end of the line, I beat everyone to the VAST trail because they took a different route and were beset by a few dogs along the way.  It was about a 3 mile walk and felt really good to be outdoors.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Meetings and lots of fun

It has been a week of meetings and special events.  Monday, I went to two library-related meetings, went to the chiropractor, and met three friends for our regular get-together.  Tuesday morning, we were so happy to see the sun and not have to cancel our usual forest walk. The usual six "regulars" were joined by two new people and their dog.  We walked up to the Grand Lookout to introduce the newbies to a spectacular view.  At the top, we found a former student of Suzy's sketching the view from the hammock she had set up between two trees.  What a brave and creative gal! 

In the afternoon, Paul and I skyped into Mom's 95th birthday party - such fun!  My sister had set the laptop up on a shelf in preparation for the surprise concert we had arranged.  When we tested the set up earlier in the day, she carried the laptop around the house to show me the set up, and I got to wish Mom (that's us in 2011 - she hasn't changed a lot - still very vital) a happy birthday when she returned home from the hairdressers. 

The party guests were asked to come in and sit in the living room where chairs had been set up theater-style.  Some glanced at the computer, apparently thinking it was just a slide show.  When Paul and I waved, they were surprised, but finally waved back.  It reminded me of the talking portraits in Harry Potter.

Mom sat up front, and when the soprano came in singing Oh What a Beautiful Morning, she was just floored!  Three arias followed, along with Happy Birthday, and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  As Paul said, Mom really raised the bar for her friends' parties.

It was nice not to have anywhere to go on Wednesday except yoga.  I spent the day catching up on some sewing, including the Moda "Blockheads" blocks of the week and finishing the Sister's Choice blocks.  The latter are now set aside while I wait for the background fabric (yellow mini dots on white) and vine fabric (blue stripes) to arrive.  Because I want to add a machine appliqued border, I experimented with turned edge machine applique learned in my class last week.  Try as I might, I can't get comfortable with invisible nylon thread, so I tried Aurifil cotton, and it works fine.   The blocks I did machine applique turned out fairly well.  I just need to do a little more experimenting with stablizers since the tear-away kind is tedious (and a little scary) to remove.

Yesterday, I started quilting a small wool table topper, and I should be able to finish it later today.  Tomorrow we are going to a musical in Burlington and Sunday we're leading another forest walk, weather permitting.  I don't mind all the rain we're getting except when it rains on our walks!

Monday, June 26, 2017

VQF yesterday

I spent yesterday morning at the Vermont Quilt Festival and was impressed by the contest quilts.  I almost always go on Sunday each year because there are fewer people, so I can take pictures more easily.  I used my phone and was intent on getting photos of appliqued borders.   This year there seemed to be more hand appliqued quilts than in past years, so there was plenty of eye candy.

I still need to take a photo of the medallion quilt I made inspired by last year's 365 Challenge, but there were two at the show that followed the challenge closely.  Here's one in rather muted colors, and it won a first place ribbon.

I got some good ideas for borders but was disappointed not to find small yellow-dotted fabric at the vendors.  I was determined not to buy willy-nilly, so I just came home with some die cut letters to applique onto bags for my nieces. 

Knowing my local quilt shop doesn't have this exact fabric, I ordered what I needed (Riley Blake mini-dots) from Fabric.com this morning and was surprised to find that I could pay using my amazon.com account.  Amazon seems to be taking over the world!  My brother's company does deliveries for them in New York City, and he is incredibly busy these days.

Will post photos from the show when I get a chance...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sisters Choice

I've been working diligently on Sisters Choice blocks for a new quilt using a bundle of blue, white, and yellow fabrics I bought from Craftsy.  I love the way the 10" blocks are turning out, but I only have enough to make about 20 blocks.  I've only got two more to put together, having cut almost all of the pieces with my Go Baby die cutter.  This has worked really well, and I wonder why I don't use it more often.  The die I have gives me the pieces for half-square triangles and coordinating 2.5" squares.  My only problem has been counting since the blocks require three different fabrics, some with 4 pieces and some with 8. 

Some of my "tulips" have been yellow and some blue.  I guess you know why this block has always appealed to me, considering my Dutch roots.  I do love the yellow and blue combination, and when Chris stopped by the other day, he admired the blocks, too.

I've decided to set the blocks on point alternating with plain blocks, which I hope will be yellow dots on white.  I have a little set of swatches to take with me today to the Vermont Quilt Festival, where I will look through the vendors booths for that fabric.  There's one I always stop at that has lovely shirtings, and it's usually right down from my friends Franco and Wilma's thread booth.

Right now, I'm thinking of a thin yellow border (the color may be "goldenrod") followed by a wide appliqued vine border.  I've been looking at various quilts on Pinterest online for ideas for simple vines, similar to the quilt at left by Lori Smith.   There is a blue and white striped fabric in the fabric line that I could use for the vine and quilt binding.  Then I'll use scraps from the blocks for the leaves and dots.

I want to try using the a turned edge machine applique technique that I learned Thursday in David Taylor's class.  He uses invisible nylon thread, but I may opt for cotton.  Once again, this is an evolving project, but that's what makes quilting so much fun.  This project has no potential home as yet, so I'm taking my time.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

By cook or by crook

On hot days when I don't feel like moving, I read.  Of course, I read all the time - I'm a librarian (retired).  So far this year I've read about 35 books, give or take a few, and I'm always looking for a new series.  The library has books to download to my Kindle for free, and this has introduced me to quite a few new authors.  I'm devouring this first book by Maya Corrigan, set on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  It combines two themes I like - the Bay area and cooking.   I'm about halfway through this cozy, and can't wait to read the next one.   The "five ingredient" recipes sound perfect, too.  I've enjoyed quite a few series featuring cooks, including the ones by Diane Mott Davidson, Joanne Fluke, and Katherine Hall Page.  I especially like to try out the recipes they include.

This rainy spring/summer, I've read several good series, including the second book in the Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda James, all four books in the Peridale CafĂ© series by Agatha Frost (pen name for a man), and The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, ninth in the series featuring archaeologist Ruth Galloway.  I especially like the latter series because it features a very human heroine who's a bit overweight and has some odd friends.  None of this reading is all that taxing which is just fine for sitting on the back porch or in the living room if the rain is streaming down.  The forecast is for more heat and humidity in the next few days, so you know what I'll be up to!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A summer walk

Yesterday was a busy day, but so nice because the sun was shining!  Friday afternoon (it threatened rain as usual), I baked chocolate chip cookies to take to the library's volunteer luncheon yesterday.  The staff holds it every year to thank the many volunteers who do things from gathering recycling to keeping the circulation desk running and more.  As a trustee, I am really grateful, and as a member of the Friends, I'm one of those helpers, too.  There were about 75 people there. 

I couldn't stay until the end because children's librarian Ian and I were heading up to the town forest for storytime.  Pam, a Friend and fellow retired librarian, helped, too, although her granddaughter didn't join us as we had hoped.  Just back from a couple of weeks vacation in Scotland, Ian piped us up to the story area in the forest, nicely marked out by Al, disc golfer extraordinaire, and his pug, Angie.  He wanted to make sure no one threw any stray discs our way.

Ian had taken some storytelling classes while on vacation and shared one about "Witch Wash-a-Dish" with the group.  It was a good one because the kids could get involved, naming potential suitors for the picky princess and serving as various trees.  He lead a fingerplay and then read a story about fairy houses before the grand finale - building fairy houses in the forest.  On an earlier walk I had spotted a fairy house from last year, a little worse for the wear, but still available for occupancy.  There were 18 kids and parents there, and a good time was had by all.

After a light dinner (considering the luncheon was pot luck and delicious), Paul and I went to the Opera House for a Hank Williams tribute.  We spotted his sister and her husband up in the balcony.  The musicians, especially the pedal steel/lead guitarist, were very good.  It was a fun day!



Monday, June 5, 2017

27 Days!

That's right - 27 days of rain in May, and rain every day so far in June.  Vermont is as green as it can be which is fine unless you want to do something outside.  Yesterday we did find a little morning sun to walk in the forest for a welcome change.   Most of the wildflowers have finished blooming but the ferns are still filling out, and we were pleased that the trails weren't as wet as they might have been.  Nearing the parking area, we heard the distinct sound of a woodpecker on metal.  There is very little metal in the forest, naturally, so we had to stop and find out what it was.  Samantha took a short video, but also this photo:
It was such a distinctive looking woodpecker that Samantha used her phone app to find out what type it was.  While she was looking, I jokingly said, "a yellow bellied sapsucker," and it really was!

It did rain later in the day, so I dove into the latest Elly Griffiths mystery, The Chalk Pit, her ninth featuring archaeologist Ruth Galloway.   Earlier, I finished putting together a bookshelf for the row-by-row robin I'll be participating in later this year.  It was easy - why haven't I made one of these quilts before?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A few finishes

Last week, I put pedal to the metal and finished two quilts!  First is Taquila Sunrise, made with part of a jelly roll and some black, using a pattern from Missouri Star Quilt Company (Diamond Rail Fence).  I quilted this quite closely using a diamond pattern and echo quilting starting at the center.  It would make a nice wall hanging in a contemporary home or office.  It's a bit too stiff to use as a table topper.  I was going to take a photo of it on my neighbor's bistro table, but I realized it would not show well.

And next is the Scrappy Logs, using 2" logs from the rest of the Amy Butler fat quarter "Violetta" bundle.   It's crib-sized and quilted in waves going across.  I experimented with a "faux piping" binding and it turned out great.

Now on to the scrappy hearts top - all pin-basted and ready to quilt after a trip to Joann's for some wide muslin.  It really feels good to finish up a few things.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pinwheels

A few days ago, I started making pinwheels using a couple of charm packs I've had for at least a year.  They're 1930's prints by Boundless from Craftsy.   I like their solids more than Kona solids, but hadn't worked with any prints before.  I'm not wild about the "hand" of these prints.  They feel cheap to me, but the resulting quilt will be small anyway.   I have a bundle of fat quarters in a different line of Boundless prints and hope they feel a little more substantial. 

I used the quick and dirty method of making the half square triangles,  putting two squares face-to-face, sewing all the way around the four sides, and cutting diagonally both ways.  This results in lots of bias edges, but it's fast and when fabric isn't prewashed, it doesn't stretch too much... in theory.  I only hope the reds don't run in the wash.

Yesterday, we had a young man scraping our little back porch, using a sander much of the day.  At the same time, the lawns were being mowed, so the cacophony was overwhelming.   I usually read for a while after lunch, and sometimes I even take a little nap.  Not yesterday!   I spent most of the day sewing,  farthest from the "action."  I got a lot of blocks made and then started to sash them in an on-point setting.  I have a few charm squares left, but probably not enough for a pieced border.

The porch work continues today until it rains, possibly this afternoon.  So I'll work in the sewing room again and will probably finish the top.  That will make 3 waiting to be quilted, so it's time to tackle at least one before starting anything new.  I also need to put a binding on the little quilt I made last week.   This weekend looks relatively free, so I hope to make a little progress with UFOs.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

State guild meeting

Yesterday's state quilt was held just over the state line in New Hampshire.  The drive back and forth was gorgeous, and I was happy to be accompanied by Pat and Robin.  The time goes by so quickly that way.  Attendance was light, perhaps due to the nice weather, and there were only two vendors, so I only spent $5 on raffle tickets.   Here are a few of the show and tell items I liked - all were wall hangings, and the bottom two were only 12" square.  As usual, I came home with IDEAS...





Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all!  We all had mothers, after all, and some of us are mothers.  I feel very lucky that my mom is still vital at age 94.  Still driving, attending classes, going swimming, and buzzing around.  I rarely call her because she's never home!   She uses a walker when she's out, just for stability, but it's hard to keep up with her nonetheless.  At right are Mom and Paul at a park near Denver last fall. 

It's raining here today (what else is new?), so we won't be grilling or gardening.  Yesterday I did do a little gardening and hope to do some planting during the week.  There are a few places in the yard that could use some new perennials.  I would like to plant dahlias and iris, too, near the house where the soil is less than optimal.  Last year I had tomatoes there, but I'm going to use pots for those this year.  I like to go to the garden stores during the week, so if I get a chance, I'll do that.  We don't plant vegetables until around Memorial Day here anyway, so even though I'd like to plant, it's good to wait.

Yesterday I finished appliqueing the wool piece and squared it off.  I'm setting it aside while I work on a small Rail Fence Diamond quilt using what's left of a jelly roll.  Everyone in one of my guilds received one from a rep of Quilting Treasures, and it's been fun to see what folks do with them.  I'm using a pattern from Missouri Star Quilt Co. (https://quiltingtutorials.com/tutorial/make-an-easy-fence-rail-diamond-quilt-quilting-quickly-with-jenny), with black diamonds.  My goal is to have a piece small enough to practice quilting in a spiral with my walking foot.

Chris helped me gather and load miscellaneous junk around the house to take to the town-wide bulk trash day yesterday, and he'll come over at noon to join Paul and me for lunch at the Chinese.  Eating Chinese food is a long-time family tradition.  Dad used to boast that he could feed our whole family of six for $10, so we used to go for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and any other special day.   For dessert we'll go home for a blueberry pastry I made yesterday with refrigerated puff pastry dough.  That was so easy that I'll be working with it again soon.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Wool applique WIP

The sun was shining for the first time in many weeks, so I quickly took a picture of my wool work in progress.  Unfortunately, the pane threw a shadow on the photo, but you can get the idea of what's happening.   I'm using a light green cotton blender for the background.  There will be centers in each big flower, and I'm going to embellish a little with embroidery after everything is stitched down.  This has been fun!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

This n that

I seem to be sailing from one thing to another these days, mostly library related, with not a lot of sewing time.  I'll be glad for Sunday (Mother's Day) when I don't plan to live on anyone else's schedule! 

Last weekend was the library board's annual Spring Fling fundraiser.  Caterers and bartenders set up, along with a band and a magician.  We trustees do a lot of the physical labor, and there were about 150 people there for a great time.  I don't generally enjoy those kinds of events (stand around chatting, balancing food and drink), but it was indeed fun.  Some of the Friends and I sold raffle tickets which offered an opportunity to chat with people (while not needing to balance comestibles).  Profits were good.

Tuesday was the annual Town vote on the Town budget, library budget, high school budget, and more.  We had done quite a bit of politicking for the library budget and staffed the polls (actually a grassy knoll outside the polls) all day.  It was in the high 30's and raining most of the day, but we were successful by a wide margin, thank goodness.   Our board meeting the following morning was quite jovial.

Today I'm helping run some focus groups for library planning, at noon and at 6 pm.  Over sandwiches, people are telling us what they think library should focus on in the coming years.  It's been quite interesting and fun.  I'm the note taker, while a local minister is leading the discussions.  Good ideas are coming out.

In between all this activity, I've been working on a small (14" square) wool appliqued piece, a vase of flowers, my favorite theme.  I have all the pieces cut out and have been basting on a few at a time before using embroidery floss for stitching.   I even bought a project box to store woolens in - my paper shopping bag has outlived its usefulness.  Now to figure out how to store the floss.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Small projects


There's something to be said for making smaller pieces.  Because they get done quickly, there's a nice sense of accomplishment.  Yesterday, I finished two things - how often can I say that?!? 

First, there was a little wallhanging I made for Cindy to give Taylor, a new graduate of Cornell's School of Veterinary Medicine.  Taylor has a gray cat and loves horses, so I looked through my pattern books.  Couldn't find a paper pieced horse, but Janet Kime's It's Raining Cats and Dogs is always good for a cute cat or dog pattern. 

I had  a very nice Laurel Burch fat quarter that I used for the back, binding, and collars, and then I rummaged around for some gray.  I love the background fabric, and added the star just to give it a "wish upon a star" feeling.  Taylor really worked hard to get through a demanding curriculum. 

This was fun to do and only took a couple of hours.  Most of the time was spent changing out presser feet - sewing, walking foot, free motion foot, etc.  Gave me a chance to clean the machine in between, too.  I sewed two triangles to the upper corners so that it can be hung on a wall with thumb tacks.   And then there was the embroidery and beading - not my favorite thing to do, but done!

I was on a roll, so I made a little blue batik zippered bag for Polly's birthday tomorrow.  We're meeting her at Quechee Gorge for lunch May 8 and have a gift certificate to Keepsake Quilting for her.  The bag is just a cute way to wrap it.  I machine quilted the bag, which measures about 6" x 9". 

On tap today:  figure out how to set a bunch of  multi-colored 12" scrappy heart blocks.  Yes, another bigger project!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

swaps

I'm a sucker for swaps!  It's so much fun to get those little packages of blocks in the mail.  This year I'm participating in several:
  • Be My Neighbor - a Moda block of the week from 2016.  I think there are 16 blocks, so each of the 8 people participating made 2 blocks, which are fairly large.  Every block had to have a little yellow in it.  My two have gone to the hostess and she'll swap them out in June.
  • "Back to Our Roots" - my online swap group began as a group to swap blocks from Sylvia's Bridal Sampler, by Jennifer Chiaverini.  We are to make sets of five of the same 6" block and mail them in by the end of August.  I'm the hostess, and so far I've made five sets.  Here's one of my Orange Peel blocks, using a charm pack of William Morris prints.  I keep thinking about making more, but I got side-tracked making some blocks in the Moda "Blockheads" block of the week program.   And as hostess, I keep thinking maybe I'll make a block for each person participating?  Not sure.
  • A "block robin" in one of my local guilds (I belong to two).  We pass a bag of fabric we've chosen around all year until the big reveal in June.  Each of us is making two blocks per person this year.  I told people I don't care what size the blocks are, as I plan to make a quilt with a variety of sizes.  I'll combine these with the guild blocks of the month and some others I've made.
  • A row robin with my online group.  Our first rows aren't due to the next person until fall, but I am not gathering fabrics and thinking a lot about the bookshelf quilt I'm planning.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

"Dutch Treat" reboot

I started working on Dutch Treat earlier this year but found the white I had chosen raveled too much.  I hunted around for some off-white batik and got some blue, too.  The blocks are reverse appliqued, so the blue is behind the off-white.  My three earlier blocks were all sorts of colors which was nice, but I thought I might only do a small number of the blue blocks.  Here's what I finished this week.

There are 146 4" blocks in the quilt, much like Dear Jane.  Because each block takes at least two hours to do, I don't know how much time I'll devote.  I do have four more prepared for applique, and we'll see how I feel after those are done.  The batik is easier to needle turn, and I can make much smaller stitches.  Not all of the blocks in the book are Dutch-related, but I doubt if I'll have the patience to do them all anyway.

And what will happen to the earlier blocks?   I have put them in with the other orphans for projects along the way - potholders?  a table runner?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Quilting, albeit slowly

Because my recent back problems seem to be finally getting better, I decided that I wouldn't overdo sandwiching the 365 Challenge-inspired quilt.  It's about 80" x 80" so took a little finagling as I pin-basted it on the double bed in my sewing room.  It takes a lot of care to do it in a way that avoids puckers on the back.  I started the process Sunday, taking breaks to read and work on hand appliqueing my "reboot" of the Dutch Treat blocks, this time with cream batik on the top and blue batik on the bottom.

It was all ready to quilt by Tuesday noon, so I started what will be several weeks of quilting.  (And I finished one DT block and started on a second one).  First, I went around the borders, and now I'm filling some in.  I often don't know what I'm going to do until I start handling the quilt.  So I begin with straight lines and think about further designs while quilting.  It often depends on how the quilt handles, although lately I having been using Quilters Dream Select which is very easy to maneuver.  I will probably stipple the center and crosshatch the outer border.  But what about the borders in between?  We'll have to wait and see! 

Yesterday I got no sewing done at all due to a library board meeting, grocery shopping, and a chiropractor appointment.  I spent a bit of time this morning before heading to an elderly neighbor's to pick up 9 boxes of books for the library booksale which Paul and I delivered after that.   It is nice to be able to take my time quilting when the mood strikes.  I have also revised my expectations of how many DT blocks I'll be able to do.  If I can get a nice wallhanging or table runner out of the blocks, I will be happy.  Each block takes enormous concentration and fairly bright light to work on.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sunny days = photos!

On Saturday, it snowed, but on Sunday and Monday, it was warm and sunny.  Most of our snow is gone now, so we could finally get out and take some photos.  Here's the scrappy squares quilt I finished a week ago:
I love it, but I am still learning how to edit photos using our new photo program.  Could not get the granite step out of the finished photo.   Still, I took a closeup and a photo of the back in order to list it for sale at my etsy shop, Cobble Hill Quilts.