From “de Muck” to Diagon Alley

Do y’all know about this? I stumbled across the PBS television series on my iPad. I really don’t watch shows on my “devices” but I was on the couch…. so I pushed the button…. and wow, I was entranced. The series aired on PBS stations in eight parts but now you can stream the whole thing at once. If you love books you won’t be able to stop watching this documentary that “explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s best loved novels.” Each segment features celebrities, authors and book lovers across the country telling how, we as readers, are affected by these stories.

Check it out, find the 100 Book List and watch the show here:

https://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/home/

Andra gave me a stack of books to read while recovering from the ankle break. This book was on the list! I’ve never heard of the book and it’s good to be motivated to read outside of your comfort authors sometimes. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” was written in 1936 and is the story of Janie, a black woman who strives to find her own place in life. The setting is the Everglades, referred to as the Muck, because the whole southern tip of Florida was a muddy, fertile swamp. The heart of the book is a love story between Janie and her third husband, but many view the book as a feminist novel and regard it as a masterpiece. Hard to read at times because Zora Hurston wrote the speaking between characters in idiomatic dialogue, I was challenged by the writing but engaged in Janie’s struggle and triumph and enjoyed the book. Check mark on The List!

Next up, something completely different. I’ve always said I’d read the Harry Potter series… some day. There are three books on the shelf left from my children’s collection. This is also out of my usual reading genre and I haven’t seen any of the movies. I’m on chapter six and still interested to discover why adults read the books for themselves. While I’m silently reading, the voice inside my head is reading aloud to my grandchildren. I’m also thinking about what I’m going to read next as a reward for checking two books off the list! I still have Kate Burkholder mysteries to fall back on for some porch reading recreation.

Isn’t summer reading the best. Just a warning– if you do check out The Great American Read, and I really hope you will– and tell me what you’re reading — be cautious in joining the FaceBook page. Book lovers are crazy committed posters and it’s easy to get sucked into the vortex. Someone will ask for suggestions on a good novel set in Africa, for example. Seriously, 300 people will answer with their favorite and exactly what makes the choice so great. It’s intoxicating and I have scraps of paper all over the place with list upon list and I’ve worn out my pencil. Sigh. Never enough hours in the day or days in summer on the porch.

Six Weeks

Yeaaaaa! Six weeks to the day, after fracturing my right ankle, I got in my car and did a test drive around the cul du sac to make sure I could brake and operate the vehicle safely. I got the green light from the doctor on Friday to re-enter the world beyond the couch. Over the moon delirious happiness!

My “maiden voyage” was a trip out to Lancaster County of course. Quilt shops! Serious fabric shopping! Well, my friend Christine really did most of the driving. She needed to take her sewing machine to Hinkletown for servicing, but the real excitement of the trip was to meet our West Coast friend, Sujata, who was in New Holland visiting relatives.

What a fun little cafe! That’s the owner in front of Lickity Split where delicious sandwiches and ice cream are on the menu. Also, Dill Pickle Soup. What? Yeah, that sounds kinda weird… was it ever good! It’s like a creamy potato soup with bits of dill pickles. The nice staff didn’t mind that we occupied the table darn near the entire day. So much to catch up on! Quilt Show and Tell, world travels mixed in with kids and grand kids — Sujata will be a new grandmom very soon. We spent all our time reconnecting and enjoying each other’s company. We didn’t have time for fabric shopping.

Not a problem at all, I’ll be back soon for a serious F.A.R.T. — Fabric Acquisition Road Trip. Christine and I did score some gorgeous strawberries and fresh asparagus. I was thinking champagne would be nice to celebrate getting back on two legs but a strawberry milkshake…..that’ll work!

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all mother’s, especially my own. I hope your day is wonderful in every way, with lots of flowers and treats and spending time relaxing and having a fun day with those you love the most.

Last weekend I had a nice visit with daughter Kira and sweet grand-dog, Bella. This weekend I got to hang out with my son Tanner and grand-daughters Avarie and Kenzie. Gary got pressed into service helping with some shirt dyeing. He was very concerned about things other than the designated shirts being dyed– like decks, tables, dogs, hair, your sister, etc.

We sent Tanner back to Roanoke fully loaded. He and I bought those kayaks when he was about 12 years old. There is a bike rack on the back end of the car too, that will carry 4 bikes. I can’t wait to paddle and ride with those two girls! I’d settle for walking and being able to drive, tho. I’m impatient beyond belief to get off the couch and back to normal but I’m able to crutch-walk now and I’ve pretty gotten good at stairs– don’t even have to go up and down on my butt anymore. Progress!

Thank you, thank you to everyone who has emailed and left comments. Hearing from you and being encouraged by your kind words has meant the world to me. By the way, something has gone flooey with my WordPress Blog and it has stopped sending comments to my email. No matter how I reset or change the settings, it publishes my reply to the blog instead of emailing back to you. Blasted technology. I’m workin’ on fixing this!

Couch and Crocus Quilt Finish

Languishing on the couch like a lady of leisure– sucks. At least I have Season Three of Outlander to binge-watch. I was number 759 on 2 copies that I had on the hold list at the library. Ok, that number might not be exact, but the list was long. What great timing to finely get it! Now if I could just get to the kitchen to make popcorn. Where is that personal assistant?

After doing a Scarlet O’Hara (I’ll think about that tomorrow) on connecting the crocus blocks, the time had come to sew in the backgrounds. I placed the flowers in color drifts without measuring the spacing because I didn’t want the blocks to look regimental.

I knew that I would have to use partial seaming. I left about an inch of the seam open on both sides of the center crocus block so that I could add the next piece.

This type of construction can become a nightmare fiasco very quickly. The quilt top needs to stay flat and square. This is another reason I used 1 inch gridded paper. I positioned the crocus block on a grid line and just counted the number of inches up and down to determine the size background piece I needed. A quarter inch all around was added for the seam allowance but I always cut bigger and square up to the exact size on my mat.

The quilt got too big for the design wall so I worked on the floor, slipping the gridded paper underneath when needed.

Some of the background blocks included little green leaf shoots to carry the theme and break up large spaces.

It’s really important to keep the top square. I used my biggest mat and lined up additional cutting mats. How about that big T-Square! One of the carpet installers Gary used in house renovations left it behind and it became mine. Some quilters use two laser-light levels. If I find any of those laying around, they’ll become mine too!

Here is a close up of background fabrics chosen and ready to be sized and sewn into the quilt.

I added the two borders on the sides and the top was complete.

I loaded the top on my longarm machine and quilted little leaves, plumes, feathers, plant shapes and berries in a free-form organic meander. I quilted four leaf clovers in green thread so they would stand out just a little.

It was hard to decide on a backing fabric. I almost always leave my options open until the top is finished. I had originally planned to use the same colorful fabric used in the borders but when I returned to the quilt shop– it was gone. Now I’m glad I selected a more neutral fabric because I like the texture of the quilting.

I was very happy with the way the quilt turned out. Just one last thing needed.

Erin sent me this lovely Irish Blessing to print on fabric for the label. The quilt has been gifted and I know it will be a reminder of cherished memories, not just of a beloved grandmother but also the love of family. Thank you to Erin, Kevin and Brian and to everyone who allowed me to join in this tribute.

Crocus Part Two

WhooHoo! Back in the saddle. I actually sewed yesterday and it felt so good to be in my studio. There is a learning curve to controlling the presser foot. I tried the left foot with some success but found it actually works better with the right foot, even with the monster black cast on my leg. Ok, whatever works, right! But back to the Crocus quilt.

My first pattern was smaller than the 8 by 11 inch graph paper, about 6 by 9 inches finished. Way to small to sew. So I sized it larger, 8 by 12 inches, to test the block again.

Yea! I could sew this size. I wanted the crocuses to lean toward left and right to give the flowers a sense of movement. With this technique, you get a reverse image from the pattern so I simply traced the pattern on the back to create two opposite blossoms.

I pinned pieces of 1 inch gridded paper on my design wall, about the size of the quilt without borders. I might have set the blocks in a traditional quilt setting with sashing and corner blocks. Humm… that could work but I have 3 colors for the flowers. Hard to work with odd numbers in a symmetrical design. Math might be involved.

I thought about how Erin’s grandmother would have seen her crocuses. They don’t usually grow in neat garden rows. I decided the flowers should dance across the quilt in drifts of color. The quilt would look nice folded on a sofa and a free style might be closer to the memories of the exuberant way the blooms come up in the spring. I printed patterns and arranged them on the gridded paper. I’m a visual person. I need to see the composition as close to reality as possible.

Switch into production mode to make lots of crocuses. Each block took several hours to complete and I loved every flower! I traced both patterns onto heavy freezer paper and ironed to selected fabrics. I traced around the paper with pencils, color coded to the sections. When you pull the freezer paper off to sew, it’s amazing how similar the pieces are. Especially the small center pieces. You know how I know this….

Freezer paper off, match registration marks and sew.

Major sections sewn together. Different flower– I know. I lost focus with the photography sequence.

It was so lovely to get a crocus finished and pinned up. I was lucky in finding the background fabrics. I chose calicos for tradition and old rose flower prints for grandmother. Fabric with handwriting and sky colors, nostalgic for mother.

Bright green and modern fabrics for spring and daughter.

As I sewed the crocuses, I thought about the fabrics needed to connect the flower blocks. Just a hint of color progression and texture to suggest foreground and background sky for depth. A question is looming… how am I going to sew this crazy patchwork of blocks and different sized background pieces together? It’s called, I’ll Think About That Later.

To be continued

1 Down…3 to 5 to Go

Thank you so much to everyone who left a comment, emailed, called and texted. Your thoughtful concern is appreciated and made me feel better. Ok, to be honest…I cried! Thank you for shaking me out of a really bad mood. I’ve decided, no more whining, At. All. So week one is over, just have to heal for 3 to 5 more. No Whining.

I made a quilt a few months ago that I couldn’t blog about because it was to be a surprise. It was such a lovely project. Usually my commissions are for art quilts to hang on the wall. This was different. My client was a young woman whose grandmother passed away. She wanted to give her mother a gift that would honor her grandmother, and help her mom cherish the memories of her mother. Three generations of a family I know well.

Erin was working in Wichita, Kansas so we had some wonderful discussions by email. She wanted a practical quilt, not a wall hanging because she envisioned the quilt draped across a sofa and her mother pulling it across herself for a nap, covered in loving memories. I would liked to have included personal textiles but there wasn’t anything meaningful. Erin remembered that her grandmother loved crocus flowers and four leaf clovers. She wanted bright colors– her grandmother didn’t care for pastels– so I asked her to send me paint chips in her color choices.

These paint chips were so cool. They had little windows that made auditioning fabric easy. I walked into The Old Country Store and experienced maybe my best fabric day ever! In minutes I had a blender fabric for the background and bolts of supporting fabrics that I loved. That sure doesn’t happen often.

My friend Jane said, find some wonderful crocus fabric and make a Turning Twenty or another, quick-to-sew pattern. They’re not Dedicated Quilters– they’ll love it. These were very wise words that echoed through my head….on repeat. But no, I had a vision. I wanted to do something original. I read through all my Ruth McDowell books and decided to use her technique. I got out my flower reference books and started sketching.

When I was happy with my crocus, I used my overhead projector to trace the line drawing onto gridded paper.

I’ve made several Ruth McDowell patterns and drafted original blocks with this technique so I knew how to divide the shapes into sewable units. This was a first using curved pieces but hey, I’m up for the challenge. We’ll talk about hindsight later. Over a glass of wine.

I made a test block. Awful! Not sewable at all! I reread the Ruth McDowell books and realized her blocks are BIG. Ok, I can upsize the design — or search the Internet for some wonderful crocus fabric… It’s always best to ponder these options out of sight of the frustrating failure block. Like the next day.

To Be Continued!

Didn’t End Well

I was so looking forward to a fun weekend. On my way to teach a class for Burke’s Quilters Unlimited retreat in Winchester, Virginia, I plotted a route that took me right past WebFabrics in Purcellville. My new quilting friends in Fairfax said it’s a fantastic shop and they were so right. Quite a few dollars right.

Somewhere around 80 Quilters gather to sew and quilt together at this retreat. The evening started with Happy Hour and appetizers. Quilters know how to party! It was so fun to walk around and get to know folks and to see what everyone was working on. The quilting projects are all different, everything you can think of in quilt making. It’s a wonderful opportunity to share and learn from each other, enjoy old friends and meet new ones.

On Friday, I taught Quilting in Layers Piecing techniques to 19 quilters. I love teaching this class because everyone makes an original art quilt. No stress for students and just fun for me to watch the design choices develop into a dynamic quilt.

These ladies were motivated and creative and were quilting their blocks within an hour of the class starting.

Aren’t these Fall colors beautiful. When you get a few blocks finished, the play begins. The very best part is seeing the artists– yes, they are all artists, play with design options. What composition will look best? Some choose a sampler approach and try out all the techniques, some choose just one or combine two. The problem is — deciding!

By the end of the day, input from friends and trying out various designs leads to a focus for the quilt. It’s nice to be on a multi day retreat because you can continue work to on this project or switch to another instead of packing up to go home.

I should have stayed and quilted! But I had plans to go hiking with my friend Laura in Shenandoah National Park and I was looking forward to spending time with her. I had just 16.9 miles on the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah that would complete a very long section from the James River in Virginia to near Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Saturday morning was sunny and delightfully cool. We had a short climb up Little Hogback Mountain and then a gentle downhill 8.5 mile hike.

It was wonderful to be back on the Trail. We spotted a few violets and bloodroot blossoms and foliage just beginning to bud. Could this hike get better? Sure did! Saturday was Entrance Free To National Parks and there were lots of people taking advantage of a beautiful day to be outdoors. I didn’t expect the Waysides –small snack bars and gift shops along the Skyline Drive– to be open. Usually they operate Memorial Day to Labor Day. But Elkwallow Wayside was open and Laura and I treated ourselves to BlackBerry milkshakes and had an unexpected nice lunch.

We started back to the AT with just 5 miles to go. Another hiker stopped to tell us to look to the right of the trail to see a cute bear cub at the base of a tree. My senses were on high alert– where there is a baby, there’s a Mama Bear! I’ve been bluff charged by a bear and I’ll just say– it makes your heart beat out of your chest!

We walked very quietly and Laura spotted the cub. I was trying to look at the little fellow and get my phone out of my pocket to snap a photo when my ankle rolled and I fell hard. Painfully hard. Definitely something wrong with my ankle. I took my time to asses the situation and quickly understood that bearing weight on that foot wasn’t happening.

I was so darn lucky. Lots of people stopped to help me try to hop and hobble but it was just too painful. The Park EMT Ranger arrived and splinted the ankle which helped a lot. An option was a “carry out” but I’d have to wait for more Rangers to arrive and jeeze, how embarrassing. Not liking that plan, I decided to try to “crutch out” about a quarter of a mile of uphill trail. Dear lord it was hard and painful and I think if I had had to go 10 inches longer, I wouldn’t have made it.

Laura, (who has now moved up from Best Hiking Buddy Ever to Exalted Angel status) loaded me in her car and drove me to the Emergency Room, down the mountain in Luray.

Diagnosis, broken fibula. Temporary cast and some delicious pain meds.

Laura drove back up to Skyland and hauled all her stuff and mine and coached me, swearing profusely, up the steps on my butt, to our cabin room.

The next day, Gary rented a car, drove to Dulles Airport to meet a shuttle driver who took him up the Skyline Drive to Little Hogback Mountain where my car was parked.

I’m home now with my implements of torture– daytime TV, the damn crutches and a hellacious heavy boot cast. I’m still swearing like a sailor but feeling downright happy. It just so happens, my friend Patty in my Quilt Bee, has a son that is an orthopedic doctor, specializing in broken bones. I saw wonderful Dr. Quercetti yesterday and my break is not so bad! No surgery, no big hard cast. Mostly I just need to be patient (I know, not my strong suit…) and heal.

Here is the really rotten thing. I didn’t get any pictures of the darling bear cub.

Art Quilts

There are still a few days left to rush out to the Wayne Art Center and view the Art Quilt Elements exhibit. My friend Christine and I agreed, one of the best collections we’ve seen over the years for this show. I should have recorded the names of the artists of my favorite pieces but there is a slide show on the linked website with the information.

At the entrance, this quilt immediately caught my attention. I’ve seen it in photos but a picture can’t capture how vibrant the colors are.

Every little nuance and detail in color and shading is captured in fused bits of fabric. Some artists will use paint or pencil to blend the edge of fabrics, lending a realistic look. I wonder if this technique was used? The pine cones are masterfully done. There must be a billion tiny pieces of fabric.

In comparison, this is one piece of fabric, a photograph printed on fabric and quilted. It’s beautiful but I just can’t feel the same sense of awe for the technique. Someone liked it because it was sold.

Another whole cloth art quilt, this time the sunflowers were painted. The artist chose to leave the quilting thread ends un-trimmed, adding a textural element.

Hung next to the painted sunflowers, this quilt was meticulously pieced and quilted with clean, closely spaced lines. I think the title should have been Tiger Stripes or something similar.

It appears that straight line quilting is still in vogue. I have a question. How are these quilts shipped so when they are hung, not one quilt shows any sign of a fold line? Any other quilt show– AQS Lancaster, Quilt Odyssey or Oaks Mancuso Show– I always see wrinkles from quilts being folded in boxes. Are the quilts at Elements steamed or ironed when they arrive? Maybe. I’ve had to sign a permission form so my quilt could be ironed if needed at different venue. It’s kind of a scary thing, but the quilts look so much better without the distraction of wrinkles and fold lines. Professional art gallery lighting helps too!

This quilt was a self portrait.

I love the perfection of the edge-stitched, fused organza. The stitched details bring the portrait to life.

Wouldn’t you love to have this piece hung in your house to watch the light filter through the layers. And when you walk by, the slightest air current would cause flutters and ripples of the gossamer fabrics.

I would not enjoy making this “quilt?” one little bit. Remember I had my own dubious butterfly and dragon wing creation adventure. Never to be repeated. But I loved seeing this piece and I’m mesmerized by the concept and artistry. And stamina.

This quilt was constructed from strips of sari silk. Luminous and beautiful, the edges were all raw.

The variations in colors were so engaging when you got up close.

I’ve been experimenting with leaving raw edges, especially on the edge of the quilt.

Christine and I asked ourselves, what quilt would we really like to take home? I wanted that pine cone quilt but this quilt won both of our hearts. I think it has a lot to do with anxiously waiting for Spring!

The quilt had layers of painted organza and pieces of cut fabrics and outline quilting on the leaves and flowers. It was such a lovely garden in fabric. I should have checked the price. Well, maybe not…

If you are any where near Wayne, Pennsylvania go see Art Quilt Elements. The show will inspire you and open your mind to fiber as art.

Circle Game

I’ve got this song stuck in my head, something about “….round and round and round in the circle game.” It’s pouring down rain and I just want to sew all day. But these blocks refuse to cooperate. I love to use a pattern for a bed quilt because the thinking is all done and you can just sew. Unless you try to get creative and it all goes awry. I’m stuck. What to do?

1. Go back to a blank slate and start over.

2. Reorder the units to see them in a different way.

This is the scrappy block. What if I try to keep the color more uniform, like the pattern?

Yuck. Just yuck.

What if I mix up the colors but control the block?

Still yuck. That wishy-washy gray/green fabric has to go.

Stronger– maybe not Full On Yuck but not not in love. Still stuck.

3. Take a walk.

Can’t (or don’t wanna) it’s cold and pouring down rain. This was yesterday. Sigh.

4. Go Fabric Shopping.

I really need more of the bright coral fabric. Can’t, shops closed on Sunday.

5. Clean up something.

See my nice organized bookshelf! I sorted through stacks and stacks of books into Keep and Donate piles. Added benefits, cardio workout hauling books upstairs– to be dealt with later…. and! Gary and I can now walk through the living room.

6. Work on something else.

I could/should finish quilting a background grid on my appliqué top. Nope. Just not feelin’ it.

7. Rip out. Frog. Unsew.

Thirty two already sewn together blocks. Noooooo! Not. Right. Now.

8. Put the project away.

Box up everything and chuck it into a dark closet. There is quite a bit of appeal to this idea but I fear the damn thing will develop a voice I can hear calling me…. Terry….I’m in heerre…..

9. Ask friends for Help.

Jennifer in Indy left a comment, “keep the circles intact, but set each “row” of circles off by a half circle.” Oh wow! Not Yuck! I’m liking this! But…. I have Thirty Two blocks to take apart….. soon….

10. Relax. Drink a glass of wine.

I’m all over this solution. See that bottle of Patchwork? My Mom sent me that and I’ve been saving it for a Sewing Get Away with the Bee– wouldn’t want my friends to develop the dreaded Lint Lung. I need to do some forward thinking with decisions here. The bottle has a screw top. Clearly, this wine was not meant to make it to a sewing retreat.

Lollygagging

I haven’t been slacking on quilt work– just dragging my heels on blog posts. It’s been so drab and dreary and cold around these Northeast parts that I’ve stayed inside and sewed and quilted with colorful fabric to keep my spirits up.

I like this pattern by Katie Blakesley but I decided to make the blocks scrappy and have the blocks be the the entire quilt instead of a double row down the center of white panels. Well, that’s not gonna work. It’s hard to believe that my blocks are laid out in the same, off-set configuration. I’ve totally lost the design.

So I made a whole bunch more blocks and tried another design. I’m not really crazy about this layout either. Life Savor, anyone? The plan was for this to be a bed quilt, possibly queen size but the way it’s going right now, I may demote it to a throw.

I’ve been quilting for customers. What a fun quilt! Lots of the circles have been fussy cut with hidden messages. Leslie gave me permission to show her quilt but I can’t reveal the secrets because I’m bound by client/ longarmer confidentially.

Very simple, “sorta straight” line quilting was all this top needed to allow the fabrics and colors to be the focus.

Sometimes the quilting works to reinforce the design. These solid shot cottons were beautiful before adding quilting.

The texture of the quilting enhanced this quilt without being intrusive. I love the way Leslie included just a few patterned fabrics to keep it interesting.

It was hard to let this quilt return to the owner. What a dynamic piece of art! I can picture this quilt on a light gray painted wall. Will she hang it with the “V’s” horizontal or vertical? Either way, it is a commanding statement of color.

And now for something completely different! Another customer is getting a jump on her Christmas gifts and had me quilt Santa. She will finish the wall hanging with button eyes and a tassel on the hat and other ornament embellishments.

I love the diversity of longarm quilting for customers. Sometimes the makers have a good idea of what quilting they want. More often, it’s a collaboration of ideas. I get to work on tops that I probably wouldn’t make and quilt tops that I wish I had made! I get ideas and inspiration from each project.

Now if I can just come up with a solution for those Life Savor blocks.

Happy Easter

And happy April Fool’s Day and good bye to March all rolled into one. It’s been a very busy month and I’m glad to move ahead. Bring on the daffodils!

In Kennett Square, we celebrate when our ice cream shop opens for the season. We had a lovely 70 degree day perfect for…well, anything! Definitely sitting outside and enjoying the sun on your face.

I want to say thank you to everyone who expressed concern over the dire cookie situation. It has been remedied!

Sadly, chocolate chip cookies and our lucky hats were not enough to get the West Virginia Mountaineers into the Final Four. There is a silver lining to the loss, however. Now I don’t have to watch basketball any longer and I’m free to cheer along with all my local friends. Go Villa Nova!

There is a new crop of babies making grandmothers smile in the Sometimes We Do quilt Bee. My friend Christine says these Krinkle Squares are baby favorites. Just layer up 3 squares of cellophane between 2 cute fabric squares, right sides together. Cut everything about 6 inches square. Sew all the way around, leaving a few inches on one side to turn right sides out. Sew opening closed. Get ready to pinch cheeks!

I’ve also been working on these blocks. I love the fresh colors but by making it scrappy, I’ve lost the dominant pattern.

I have 2 design walls in my studio and both are covered with 4 quilts in progress. Yep, I’m all over the place, no focus! As soon as I free up some space, I’m going to try some different design options with those blocks.

Thunder Snow

Ho hum. Another day. Another Nor’easter.

I have a customer top loaded and ready to quilt. But I’m nervous about having my longarm machine plugged in. We might lose power like we did with Nor’easter Two– or was it Nor’easter Three? We might have Thunder Snow.

Its a good day for piecing colorful blocks together. I love to have a project all cut out and ready to go. I call these “get-a-way” blocks because I bring them along on sewing weekends with friends at the shore or in the mountains or– last year at this time, Florida… I think I’ll rename them”Snow Day” projects. Looks like I carefully counted the pieces and now I have no idea what those numbers mean.

I also can’t remember where I saw the pattern. Pinterest maybe. My quilt will be all pieced scrappy blocks. I’m not slapping huge snowy white panels on the sides. Do you ever wonder if Modern Quilters just don’t have a lot of stamina?

So I set up my little travel Bernina machine in my kitchen. If we do get some crazy power surge or outage, it’s a lot less expensive to blow out than my regular, serious Bernina, in the cabinet in my sewing room. I’m also closer to the chocolate chip cookies and coffee. Wait–what cookies? I didn’t get any “snow food.” That was dumb. Ok. I’m ready to risk Thunder Snow.

I also have a good book to read if the heat goes off and I have to get out my huge, thick down sleeping bag. It would be nice if I had some cookies…. did you know they have YouTube trailers for books?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=c4Cc_NS7lPE Check it out!

This isn’t gonna melt by tomorrow. Did I mention Gary is stranded in Houston where he is making the best of it, playing golf in short sleeves? I might have some attitude going today. I’m trying to be positive but it’s darn hard without cookies.

Good Times

I haven’t done this in a long time. Two kids to get on the school bus and two dogs to walk before breakfast.

Avarie and Mackenzie tried catching snow flakes on their tongues, hoping for a snow day off of school. It was only flurries down in Roanoke, while Kennett Square, Pennsylvania got buried in 10 inches of the nasty white stuff.

The Appalachian Trail is very near where my grandkids live so I talked Gary into driving me to a trailhead so I could hike a few miles.

It was about 30 degrees and sunny when I started out, but as soon as I got to the top of the ridge, the wind picked up, snow squalls obscured the trail and it just got darn ugly.

Sometimes I’m sweating along the Trail in summer heat, grateful for the smallest puff of cooling breeze. Other times, a massive rock upthrust blocks the wind and I’m so happy for a brief respite. I had planned a 5.9 mile hike but Gary stopped at a closer road crossing and started talking about pulled pork BBQ for lunch. Warm restaurant, BBQ — no brainer! 4.3 miles hiked is good.

I’m glad I got a few miles done, even though it was a teaser hike. I’m happy I got to spend time with my granddaughters. I’m really happy Gary figured out the math homework and that the dog didn’t eat it. It’s all good.

Another One

You’ve got to be kidding me. We have barely recovered from a fierce Nor’easter this weekend and now they are predicting another one, waiting in the wings, ready to go midweek. And it’s going to be worse, with “plowable snow.” Well, plans gone awry yet again. I was hoping to quilt this appliqué top I made several years ago on my longarm machine but I can’t have the machine plugged in, even with a surge protector, when the wind is howling and the lights are flickering on and off.

I love hand appliqué. This is Edyta Sitar’s, “Midnight Blooms” pattern, all turned edge. I’m hand-quilting on a different quilt, with no end in sight and hoped to get this top finished in my lifetime. I also wanted to try out my new Quick Change presser feet.

Gammill has made specialty feet for the longarm and all three have been recommended to stitch closely next to appliqué. The first, an open toe foot, I didn’t like because it didn’t work well with rulers. The second foot is cup-shaped and glides right over bulky seams like a dream. That will come in handy when quilting T-shirt quilts. But why didn’t Gammill fabricate the foot from clear plastic, like other longarm manufacturers have done? You can’t see the line you want to stitch through the black metal. The tiny foot is for trapunto. It didn’t catch on the appliqué as frequently as the regular foot, but the stitches were just a little too far from the edge for my taste.

I decided the best of the lot was the “spoon” foot and outlined all the shapes with it, hoping I would get better with practice. I used Superior Threads new MicroQuilter, a 100 weight polyester thread in Taupe, in top and bobbin. I have always used invisible thread to outline– and cussed a lot. MicroQuilter is so much easier to use, adds just a bit of blending color and is so fine that if you catch the appliqué, it doesn’t show much. Loved the thread, the spoon foot– not so much. I am much more accurate and controlled with the regular quarter inch foot and a ruler guide.

So when I wasn’t pacing back and forth, waiting for the power to come back on, I was reading this appropriately titled book. My friend Jane recommended it and now the whole Quilt Bee is getting nothing done. (Include Gary in that– reading the book, getting nothing done– not the Bee!)

The book revolves around Kate Burkholder who grew up in the Amish community. She returned to this small peaceful town as a chief of police. The story takes place in rural Ohio but could easily be Lancaster County, close to my home. Linda Castillo weaves the Amish belief and lifestyle into the murder mystery series and sometimes quilts make an appearance in solving the crime.

I think there are 10 books in the series. They really don’t have to be read in order but after reading Book 8, I thought I would go back to Book 1 and happily read on. However, SOMEONE has checked out or reserved the digital and library hard copies for Books 2 through 7. Seriously? I WILL FIND YOU.

Snowdrops and Orchids

That’s a bit of a crazy title. Snowdrops are wildflowers that sometimes come up through a drift of snow in February. The orchids I’m referring to are tropical and cultivated in a hothouse conservatory. Here in Pennsylvania we have had two days of summer warm weather– one day was almost 80 degrees! Crazy! The first day, I walked around Nixon Park in Kennett Square and discovered the woods full of snowdrops.

Yesterday I decided to walk around Longwood Gardens ( along with everyone else living in Chester County, surrounding states and varies foreign countries…) and see if snowdrops are blooming there. Of course I got lured into the Orchid Extravaganza Show, on display until March 25.

Spectacular as usual. If you need an infusion of color, orchids won’t let you down. I’ve read that orchids display the most diversity of blooms of any species (that might not be the right botanical term.)

That’s a quilt composition right there. I love those stripes.

I’ve made quilts with orchids as the subject before. I wish they had some Ghost Orchids to see at Longwood.

This huge arch of orchids is beautiful. I’m seeing lots of yellow at the gardens this year.

I walked all over the meadow and through Pierce’s Woods and finely spotted a few blooming snowdrops. Our short sleeve days come to an abrupt end with a cold front moving in. I hope these tiny flowers are hardy enough to survive for a few days so I can revisit them. I think I might be back in the studio making more snowdrops.