Unpack and Repack

 

I’m doing a quick load of laundry from a week-end of sewing with the Sometimes We Do Quilt Bee in the Pocono Mountains. We all had a great time, working on lots of different projects, enjoying each other’s company and eating really well and too much.

 

I worked on my Bonnie Hunter “use up my stash” quilt.

 

 

And I showed everyone the blocks I made with the Quick Curve Ruler. We decided we need to do a Bee challenge using the ruler but we don’t have all the details figured out yet.

 

On to the next trip to a different mountain range. I’m packing my backpack and meeting Laura in Shenandoah National park. This will be “Glam Hiking” since we plan to stay in the lodge and a cabin for a few nights. I love Glam Hiking!

 

 

 

 

My Turn

 
It's my turn to host the Sometimes We Do Quilt Bee. I usually have some awsome quilts to show but not this time. There is an issue going on in my Bee that must be addressed. Knitting. There, I've said it. This incessant knitting must stop. Or at least be seriously scaled back, after all, how many scarves do we really need? I know, I know, yarn is fiber too but it is a poor second cousin to Real Fabric. So, you know who you are, take the high road, stray no more and we won't speak of this again.
 
 
I made a very quick Kids Quilt for the West Chester Domestic Violence Center. Calico Cutters Quilt Guild makes kits of pre cut squares to sew and my longarm made quilting fast and easy.
 
 
I like to sew a pocket on the back and include a book. I have been giving my grandchildren the books I read when my children were little and snuggled under a quilt for nap time. But I have boxes and boxes of books! I can never make enough quilts to make a dent. Maybe I can fit two or three books in the pocket. It's fun trying to match the story book to the theme of the fabric.
 
 
 
 
 

 

Mother’s Day

 
What a wonderful breakfast! Hot coffee, fresh orange juice, strawberries and melon, bacon, cheese strata with asparagus and onions, scrambled eggs and different breads, muffins and jams. We sat on our small patio and enjoyed every bite while watching the river and listening to birds call. But now I don't want to move!
 
 
In it's heyday, the canal was filled with water from aqueducts made by daming the many streams and rivers that flowed down to the Delaware River. There are plans to fill the canal again, as funding becomes available. I like riding along the sections that have water, today more often pumped into the canal from the river.
 
 
There are grand old homes.
 
 
Homes with beautifully kept gardens and grounds.
 
 
Stone cottages with modern additions.
 
 
I think this is the house I'd choose– a view from every room.
 
 
Check out the tree house! This historic property is the former home of William L. Lathrop. The 1756 House was the residence on the grounds of a mill complex. Lathrop, a renowned landscape painter, took the coopers shop for his studio and shuttled art students from New Hope on his boat, Sunshine. The scenic beauty must have inspired the artists on the canal.
 
 
We were told where to look to see this huge nest. We couldn't see the two juvenile birds but were lucky to see the two Bald Eagle parents, soaring over the river. We saw folks watching another eagle hanging out near a second nest built on an electrical tower. If I were an eagle, I'd try for the leafy real estate. A three eagle day!
 
 
Very appropriate for Mother's Day…that's a lot of kids…
 
 
This restored lock keepers home is the Delaware State Park Headquarters and museum and our turn around point in New Hope. No chance for a bite to eat unless you have reservations for brunch. No worries, maybe I'll be hungry by the time we peddle back up the river on the New Jersey side.
I've been thinking of my mother all day. Happy Mother's Day, Mom! And to all Mother's, I hope you have a wonderful day.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Mother’s Day Weekend

 
I don't know where we are going but the bikes are on the car so it's going to be good.
 
 
Our destination revealed! We are staying the night in the 1740 House Country Inn in Lumberville, Pennsylvania.
 
 
The stone walls in our room date back to the original 1740 construction. They were short in those days…
 
 
The deep window looks out on our patio, just feet from the Delaware River.
 
 
Ready to start our ride on this beautiful spring day.
 
 
We cross the pedestrian bridge at Lumberville to Bulls Island State Park in New Jersey.

 

 
For 30 miles the towpath trails of Pennsylvania's Canal State Park and New Jersey's D and R Sate Park parallel the Delaware River. Six River bridges connect the two trails, making it easy to bike a loop, or to combine loops for a longer ride.
 
 
On the New Jersey side, the trail is smooth and shady and peaceful. The 70 mile trail from Phillipsburg south to Trenton is part of the National Recreation Trail System. Gary and I peddle north for about 9 miles to the bridge at Frenchtown. One of the best parts is going through the small river towns. There are locally owned restaurants to get lunch or a drink or just rest on a park bench.
 
 
Back on the Pennsylvania side, the trail follows the towpath of the historic Delaware Canal. In the early 1800's, canal boats loaded with coal from the Upper Lehigh Valley were towed by mules. From Easton, 60 miles of canal to Bristol provided transport for goods moving on to Philadelphia and New York.
 
 
Today, the canal retains almost all of its features as they existed during its century of commercial operation. I find the old locks and dams absolutely fascinating and stop to read all of the interpretive signs along the way. The boatman would blow on his conch shell to warn the lock keeper of his approach. Lock keepers wives provided services such as selling fresh produce, hot meals and doing laundry. Families lived on the boats, going down the canal with a load of anthracite, making the return trip back up north with a different load of goods to sell.
 
After riding the canal tow path back to our Inn, we change clothes and head out for dinner at the restaurant at Phillips Mill. A car is a very appreciated form of transportation! This evening is so warm, we eat outdoors by candle light in the beautiful courtyard. Surely I biked enough calories to justify the delicious chocolate mousse desert!
 
 
 
 

 

Tulips! And More Tulips!

 

 
The tulips blooming at Longwood Gardens take my breath away. I think I could learn everything there is to know about color theory, just studying the swaths of intermixing tulip varieties. I couldn't say that tulips are my favorite flowers– that would be a Sophie's Choice type of question. How could I choose a favorite flower! You'd have to define some categories first. And there would have to be many, many catagories.
 
 
My love affair with tulips began at an early age. I grew up in Holland, Michigan where they have a Tulip Festival every May. The school children walk in the parades and perform traditional dances in wooden shoes. My mother made this costume, and others, as my brother and sister and I got bigger through the years. I need to ask her if she saved these, packed away in the attic.
 
 
My friend Jane and I stood mesmerized in front of these tulips yesterday. She remarked that they are absolutely luminous. I thought– how could I get that effect in fabric? Silk is luminous! Then maybe an overlay of different translucent organzas…
 
 
I need some hand dyed fabric for these.
 
 
I could paint some fabric for this stripey yellow and red variety.
 
 
I love teaching the Quilting in Layers workshops. The variety of colors and fabric choices are glorious! These lovely quilts were made by members of the Loose Threads Quilters.
 
 
This is Fran's quilt. I love the bright oranges and yellows of her tulip and that she choose to bind her quilt in orange, such a nice finishing frame.
 
 
Judy, from the Reston Quilters, used two fabrics for the background. The center squares in the plain blocks are subtle and the directional fabric is perfect to highlight the purple tulip.
 
 
I love the natural, woodsy design fabrics Lorrie selected for this soft, elegant quilt. The darker background squares contrast with the light flower and leaves for a lovely composition.
 
 
I made this tulip quilt a few years ago. All the tulips are raw edge appliqué and the background was pre-quilted first.
 
 
I bet I have hundreds of photos of tulips. Someday I'd like to travel to Amsterdam during tulip time. My daughter brought me these wooden shoes, “der klompen,” from a trip she made to the Netherlands. I'm going back to Longwood this afternoon. Yesterday, I didn't even go down The Flower Walk, where the main display of tulips is planted! I could wear my wooden shoes!
 
No, I don't think so… I'll just enjoy them on display.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

New Sample for MAQ

Aren't these two fabrics pretty. I've had them pinned to my design wall for a few months. They were brought to me all the way from Bali! Gotta love friends who travel to exotic places and bring back fabric to share. Thank you, Cheryl!
 
I need to make samples for my Geometric Quilting in Layers class at MAQ in July. Many quilters struggle with fabric selection and I want to make this part fun and not intimidating at all. How about a very neutral background of “low volume” fabrics. Easy and not scary, right!
 
 
I cut strips from Wonder Under fusible web and stuck down my little center squares. Quilters always ask me how I blend my backgrounds and center squares effectively. The answer is, I cut way more center squares than I need. My quilt will have 25 blocks and I cut 56 centers. I didn't intend to cut that many, but every time I grabbed a fabric, it wanted to come to the party. Then I spyed a few squares I had cut for a different project and invited them, too. Heck, I kinda like those little squares all together and hate to cut them apart.
 
 
Auditioning the center squares is fun. The bad part is, as I try out new squares, I justify walking into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee or a snack so I can come back and see the composition “with fresh eyes.” I'll keep switching them out until I get them just the way I want them– or get tired and just go with it!
 
Trying to make a decision on binding. I don't like any of the fabric I have for a traditional binding and I don't think I want a facing-type, knife edge binding for this quilt. I thought this fabric might work. Rejected.
 
 
I love using any kind of stripe for binding. Rejected this too.
 
 
Now this is getting desperate. Another reject.
 
 
Back to my stash, I finely found a mottled, light gray fabric with just a hint of aqua. Quilt done! Now I just need a title for it. What do you think?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Quilt Show Today!

 
Definitely one of my favorite signs! Every other year, the Penn Oaks Quilt Guild puts on a quilt show. It's a small guild, less than 50 members, I believe. Every single member contributes, working to make the show a success.
 
 
Entry to the competition is open to all quilters and is juried and NQA judged. There are also non judged categories of quilts, displays of challenge quilts and special exhibits. Oh, and did I mention venders?
I love this vibrant quilt by Ellen McMillen. I don't have enough yellow in my stash to make a quarter of this quilt.
 
 
Maryann Lewis made this fun, swirley tulip quilt.
 
 
The members of this talented guild make quilts in many styles from tradional to art quilts. This quilt was made by Kelly Meanix. That's a lot of triangles! I bet she had to drink at least one glass of red wine to prevent that dreaded Lint Lung.
 
 
I think this quilt by Betsy Moses fits the modern astetic. I like everything about it, the design, the colors and the quilting.
 
 
 
Another really fun quilt by Betsy Moses. I waited by the phone all day yesterday. Betsy actually made this quilt in a small size for the auction of miniature quilts. I put lots of my tickets in that bag. I guess they didn't want to disturb people with a phone call on Sunday and will be letting me know about my winning ticket today. I'm waiting y'all!
 
 
My friend Kelly Meanix of Pinkadot Quilts won Best of Show! Her piecing and appliqué is exquiset. A well deserved ribbon, congratulations!
 
 
These adorable cookies were pretty and good, and lasted long enough to snap a quick picture. You know, I think there should have been two Best of Show awards. Whoever made the carrot cake for the Dresden Plate cafe has my admiration. It was delishious! Note…no photo. You know why!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Reston Quilters

 
This cute little gnome has come to live in my studio!
 
 
He’s only a few inches tall, but just look at the detail on the back of his tiny cape. Thank you, Cecile! What a lovely reminder of my time spent with the Reston Chapter of Quilters Unlimited.
 
 
I presented my lecture and shared my quilts the evening before at the Guild meeting. The workshop the following day was held in this wonderful light filled room. The quilts hanging on the walls were made by Cindy Grisdela and the paintings are by Jennifer Duncan.
 
 
This quilter chose a palatte of soft greens that looked like budding leaves on this spring day, visible through the large windows.
 
These quilters did not shy away from creativity. I love how the directional fabric was used so effectively here.
 
 
I have never seen a quilter choose such vibrant fabric for this project before. Those three spools of thread with the colors selected from the fabric are making me smile. I really hope I get to see how this quilt turns out. I’m inspired!
 
 
It got quiet for a bit, with machines humming, everyone quilting on the background blocks.
 
 
This is my time to walk around and admire the fabric choices and design decisions. Every time I teach this technique, I learn things and I can’t wait to get home and sew some blocks myself.
 
The Reston Chapter is part of Quilters Unlimited that has over 1,000 members, comprised of 11 chapters and a parent organization (affectionately called “Big QU”). The chapters are spread over the Northern Virginia area from Arlington to Haymarket. They put on a fantastic Quilt Show, coming up soon, May 29 through 31, at the Dulles Expo and Conference Center, in Chantilly, Virginia. Thanks Anne, for inviting me, and I sure hope I get to the quilt show!
 
 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Civil War

 
This is a photo of my good friend and fellow quilter, Mrs. Bixby.
You just know this lady is a good quilter, right! Actually, this is Ginger, member of the Sometimes We Do Quilt Bee and she is in costume, playing Mrs. Bixby, in the Wilmington Drama Leage performance of The Civil War.
 
Several members of the Bee, and Christine, my plus one, had a wonderful lunch at Pizza by Elizabeth's before the show. You know everything is going to go well when you start with champaign cocktails.

The Civil War is a musical centering on the American Civil War, with the musical numbers portraying the war through Union, Confederate, and slave viewpoints. Ginger plays the role of Mrs. Lydia Bixby, a widow believed to have lost five sons on the battlefield. President Lincoln wrote a letter to express condolences for her tragic loss.

 
Ginger sings the hauntingly beautiful song, “Five Boys.” We were all in tears. She had warned us to bring Kleenex, with extra for Andra, who has a tender heart and has been known to sob…loudly.
Ginger's mother is a quilter and made the Civil War soldier's quilt hanging on the back of her rocking chair.
 
 
The story of the characters is told through the music, reading of actual letters and images projected on the stage screen. When a photograph of five boys was needed for Mrs. Bixby's scene, Ginger's five nephews fit the description perfectly. The boys were dressed for the part and Ginger's husband, Dave, photographed them in Old Newcastle, Delaware.
 
 
Dave worked some magic in Photoshop and created the perfect backdrop.
 
He also got a nice photo of all of us with the star. Great performance Ginger! If you like good music, wonderful singing and a story well told, go see The Cival War at the Wilmington Drama League, playing through May 3. “Sometimes We Do” quilt. Sometimes we are so lucky to enjoy our member's other talents.
 
 
 

 

 

 

Old Friends

 
This quilt has just returned home. It's been living the good life, traveling with my friend Cheryl Lynch in her trunk show of quilts.
 
 
I made the quilt for Cheryl's book, “Quilt Fiesta.” Cheryl wanted to show different colorways to illustrate how the tiles from Mexico could be used in quilt design. My quilt uses the Salsa Verde block which is a different version of the cover quilt. I designed the calla lily appliqué, also found frequently on Mexican table ware and tiles. Different fabric really changes the quilts!
 
 
I have been spring cleaning, trying to clear out unwanted “stuff” from our basement– mostly Gary's stuff, which could be better described as “junk.” I found my first sewing machine! I still have the original box and manual. I cleaned it up a bit and did a little research on EBay. I guess every little girl had a similar model because selling this old friend is not going to purchase my retirement place in Florida. All I could get would be a cup of coffee and a muffin at Starbucks. I'm keeping it. It will look nice in my studio.
 
 
 
 

 

 

A Little Sad…A Little Not

 
We have lived in our home for over 20 years. My husband and sons constructed this kitchen garden for me. They put up the picket fence to keep out marauding deer and groundhogs and lined the walkways with pretty red rock.
 
 
I had five raised beds and grew all kinds of herbs, greens and vegetables. Peas and beans climbed up the tuture in the center bed. I'd get so excited to harvest the produce and serve it to my family. My kids would ask,”Is it FYG? From Your Garden!”
 
Red roses were on the trellis and autumn clematis smelled so fragrant over the arched gate. I planted perinneals around the outside of the fence and mixed in colorful zinnias and marigolds and any annuals that caught my fancy.
In past years, the garden has been looking sad and very neglected. We have patched up the fence and repaired the deteriorating beds, but Gary and I want to do other things now. Gardening has taken a back seat to golf and tennis. I want to hike and ride my bike on Rail Trails and in the Spring I have a busy teaching and lecturing schedule. Not to mention long arm quilting for clients and sewing my own quilts.
 
 
So I have shed a tear and moved on! It was amazing how fast these two workers took down that garden.
 
 
Reduced to ruble.
 
 
I know Gary did enjoy his shopping trip to the nursery. He came back with more than we had planned– like that big tree. But it's a good thing when he has strong backs doing the digging and planting and he's doing the watching.
 
 
My plan was to eliminate as much maintainence as possible.
 
 
I think it's going to look very nice when the grass grows and the new bushes fill in. I'll be gathering lovely flowers and local fruits and vegetables at the wonderful Farmer's Market in Kennett Square. And hiking the mountains and riding the Rail Trails and quilting. “There is a season, turn, turn, turn…” It's all good. No garden guilt!
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Bobbins on Steroids

 
My daughter Kira, sent me photos from Central Park. Now that's what I call BOBBINS!
 
 
This is an art installation called Desire Lines, by Tatiana Trouvé. I really wonder how many people look at this and don't immediately think of sewing? Quilters ceretainly would! Trouvé measured the paths in Central Park, identifying 212 separate walkways. Each “spool” is wound with rope equal in length to a corresponding pathway.
 
 
In addition to labeling the spools with the location of the walk, Trouvé associates each pathway with a title and reference from history or culture that relates in someway to walking. An example is the path from Mariners Gate to Summit Rock. A walker is invited to contemplate the song, “Walk on the Water” by Credence Clearwater Revival. Music from my past that would be playing in my head, as I remembered that time in my life.

 
How cool to weave together ideas and images that can be enjoyed on physical, mental, visual– many different levels. I hope I get a chance to experience this installation, available through August 30, in person. I see gorgous colors of thread on those huge bobbin spools! And anyone who knows me, knows I love thread. Like candy for quilters with no calories!
 
 
I spent a wonderful day on Friday, teaching Quilting in Layers to Hunterdon County Quilters. I was so engaged in the beautiful quilts they were working on that I never got a chance to take photos. I hope they send me pictures because there is real talent in that guild! Thank you for inviting me, I had a wonderful time getting to know you all. Now if I just had my thread inventory counted after the sales from two workshops…I could actually go for a walk!
 
 

 
 

 

 

A Fun Day

 
I like speaking to quilt guilds and sharing my quilts, but what I really love is teaching Quilting in Layers workshops. I don't want to sound like an advertisement, but it's just darn fun for me to spend a day with quilters. They really are wonderful people. They so graciously allow me to help decide on colors and discuss layouts and composition. I get the fun of creating while they do the work!
 
These quilters from the Loose Threads Guild in Spring City, PA didn't shy away from learning a new technique. Power quilting happening here!
 
 
Everyone had such lovely colors. I saw the influence of spring everywhere.
 
 
Even this Amish color scheme leaned toward the blues and greens.
 
 
This quilter decided to add a ground layer and fringe the edges of her center squares. How creative! Making the little quilts personal is exciting for me to see and I learn things and get inspired. All I want to do when I get home is sew! And sit on the couch and relax… Thank you to Laurie and all the Loose Thread quilters. I had a fun and inspiring day!

 

Northcott at Burkholders

 
I'm a big fan of Northcott Fabrics. The company makes Stonehenge, Artisan Spirit, Shimmer, ColorWorks and many other gorgeous collections. When Burkholders fabric shop invited quilters to attend an event to see the new fabrics coming out, my friend Cheryl Lynch and I jumped at the chance.
 
 
Isn't this Baby Zoom Submarine collection cute. I really need another grandchild! What had me drooling is the 48 new colorways coming in Stonehenge and ColorWorks. Northcott describes their fabrics as “cottons that feel like silk.” The fabric is beautifully made with a finer thread and higher thread count than some quilting cottons. I favor the ColorWorks solids over the Kona cotton for this reason.
Northcott fabrics can be hard to find. I admit it, I want every single color in the ColorWorks line! They work so well for my Quilting in Layers technique. I took this problem up with the representatives. Northcott made a decision to sell only to quilt shops. You will not find their fabric in any chain stores. All the pre-cut fabrics– Chips, Stips and Rolls, are cut by a private contractor, “Vinny” on Long Island, so no skimpy pieces.
 
 
It was a fun and informative program, topped off with a light lunch and swag! Cheryl even won a door prize.
 
We also were invited to preorder the new fabrics and quilt kits and any purchase of Northcott fabrics at Burholders was 20% off. I took full advantage of that! As well as a second helping of the delicious cookies…
 
 

 

Stash

 
This is why I have a stash. Sometimes I need to just pull out some fabric and sew. I bought the floral fabric and coordinating solid green and blue at Roundabout Quilt Shop a few years ago. Gosh I miss that shop.
 
 
I've been wanting to try out this Quick Curve Ruler. Kelly at Pinkadot Quilts made a lovely quilt and demonstrated how to use the ruler at a meeting of our Guild, Calico Cutters. It's fun and easy! I'm really impressed by how little waste of fabric there is. There are so many ways to set the blocks, I'll be trying out ideas on my design wall as soon as I make a few more.
 
 
I've caved. I vowed that I wasn't going to garden this year but I couldn't resist these lovely green lettuce plants. And then I threw in a few lettuce seeds. I only like gardening in the very early spring and at harvest time. That in-between, hard work part, I want someone else to do. Nobody is steppin' up.