Happy Valentine’s Day

I found these two half-zip jackets on the sale rack just after Christmas and knew they would be perfect for Valentine’s Day. I cut some hearts from fabric scraps, ironed on Wonder Under and fused them to the jacket— taking care not to touch the iron to the fuzzy fabric! Then I zigzag stitched around the hearts. A quick embellishment I think my granddaughters will like.

I’ve been sewing here in Florida too. Yesterday was chilly and rainy, a perfect day to sew this bag. Ironically I bought the pattern two years ago on a bike ride on the Orange County Trail through Winter Garden. What goes around, right!

I love this Tula Pink fabric. I want those squirrels centered on both sides of the bag. Lucky for me, the pattern repeat is perfect.

I seamed the fabric so that the squirrels would be upright on either side, then centered the design and ironed it down.

A curved quilting line was all that was needed and then I trimmed to size.

The hardest part of sewing this pattern is deciding which fabric you want for each section. It really doesn’t matter though because all the fabrics work together. I tried to match my zipper color to the 3 inside pockets.

Ratz! Clearly I didn’t bring enough interfacing. I don’t think it is that critical so I patched every tiny bit I had on the last section and I’m just gonna “make it work.”

Nooooo! Something is wrong—all the pieces should be the same length. Arrrgh. Miscut! I have plenty of fabric but zero interfacing. I saw a JoAnn’s somewhere in a shopping area around here. A quick Google search reveals too far to walk. The Golfer took the car and won’t be back for hours. Does JoAnn’s deliver? Hah—even if they did— 1 quarter yard interfacing, 79 cents, delivery charge, $10 plus tip, maybe. Could I take an Uber? I guess not, for a quarter yard of interfacing …

I do have another project. But I was on such a good roll! And heck, it’s close enough to wine time anyway.

Relaxing

I have been looking forward to a daily walk. I just have so much trouble getting motivated in Pennsylvania when it’s cold and gray in winter. I admit it, I’m a fair weather walker and I’m totally enjoying my sunny, warm morning stroll.

Now this is what I’m talking about! I have either a 9 or 18 hole window of time to sew while The Golfer is out.

How about doing some laps in the heated pool? Vacation calories add up fast!

The screened porch is a lovely reading spot and I devoured this book. Maybe not the best written literature but the interwoven story of two women, one in present time and the other living in the 1880’s, was enjoyable. For me, the best part of the book was the setting. I’ve always wanted to know about the catastrophic Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood.

In 1889, after several days of heavy rainfall, the earthen damn failed, releasing water in the lake 14 miles above Johnstown and flooding the valley below. The water surge took less than 30 minutes to rush down the mountain and drain the lake. Over 2000 people lost their lives. The details and history fascinate me and the book has old photographs of the lake resort and downstream towns, both before and after the flood. Unbelievable.

When spring returns to the Allegheny Mountains, I want to visit Johnstown and learn all about this historical tragedy.

St. Augustine

This is where I should have started exploring St. Augustine, Florida. I didn’t know there is a lighthouse! This lovely old city has always been on my list of destinations. Quite by serendipity Gary and I decided to swing by on our drive to central Florida. There is never enough time to see it all and now I am planning to come back and climb those stairs and spend some time in the museum some day. From the looks of the mansion house, as far as lighthouse keeper posts go, St. Augustine Beach surely must have been a primo, cushy assignment.

We did get to tour the fort, Castillo de San Marcos. Those cannons could fire a shot and accurately hit a target three miles distant.


The fort and city changed country flags so often that I lost track of the history timeline. These soldiers might be Huguenots, they seemed to have a big presence, snappy uniforms for sure.

British redcoats occupied the fort as well. Two officers to a bunk.

St. Augustine is home to Flagler College, the former magnificent Ponce de Leon Hotel and the very height of luxury in the 1890’s.

I wish I could transport back in time and admire the Tiffany stained glass windows in the grand dining hall. Every pane is encased in thick bulletproof glass now.

I didn’t have enough time in St. Augustine but was happy to have a quick overview. The Golfer is anxious to swing the clubs and there are kayaks to paddle and bikes to ride and porches to relax on and hopefully more serendipity in store.

Half Good

I can’t resist showing this picture of my daughter’s new French bulldog puppy. Max is so cute and cuddly and a feisty little guy. Bella was not enthusiastic about having an addition to the family but Kira says she’s more tolerant now.

I’ve been pretty chatty on the blog this week. Not that many readers received the posts because they still aren’t being delivered by email. Apparently Blogger and other aggregate platforms are working and the blog posts are on my website, TerryKramzar.com. One thing fixed– I now get Comments delivered to my email so that I can answer individually. Whoop! Whoop! The gremlins are holding tight to the blog posts but Holly Knott has got’em on the run.

Hence the title “Half Good.” Blog repair status — not the little dogs! If you receive a post in your inbox, please let me know. I’m seriously ready for “All Good.”

Deep

We are deep in the Polar Vortex here in Pennsylvania. Alexa just told me the temperature is 6 and the high today will be 17. That probably sounds balmy to folks in the Midwest who are experiencing subzero temperatures. When I backpacked through the Smokey Mountains, one night the temperature dropped to 17 degrees. I was actually toasty in my big down sleeping bag. Crawling out of that cocoon in the morning was an eye opening, teeth chattering experience tho.

After my quilting and sewing marathon of the past few weeks, it’s time for a deep clean in my studio. I use a wire basket system to store my fabric when it’s not in piles and drifts all over the place. Watching the Netflix series, “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo, I got inspired.

I didn’t think this rolled and folded “stand’em up” method would work for fabric like it does for socks, but wow! So much better! I can pull out the drawer and see at a glance every fabric in there.

I used to just stack the fabric in random piles by color and then root through the layers, making a mess trying to find the one piece I wanted.

I’d be jumping up and down doing a Snoopy dance of Joy if it wasn’t for the realization that I’ve Konmaried the two easy drawers– and have 25 to go. Well, while the enthusiasm lasts, it will be good!

If you are staying warm inside and need a good read, I loved this book. It reminded me of reading “The Light Between Oceans,” another book I enjoyed. Both stories involve lighthouse keepers but the setting in “The Light-Keepers Daughters,” is an island in Lake Superior, near the coast of Canada. Many years ago, (many…) Gary and I canoed through the wilderness waters of Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, very near the tiny island in the book. I do have a fascination with lighthouses and it was interesting to read about the shipping lanes in Lake Superior. Lighthouse keepers there got a reprieve in winter months because the lake froze solid.

Keep warm!

Delivered

I challenged myself to create four new quilts and five, mini framed pieces for the Malvern Retreat Art Show. Everything had to be delivered yesterday morning. I finished the last quilt, Jacks, at 10 pm the night before. Whew! Just made it by the skin of my teeth!

I have a love affair going with Jack-in-the-Pulpit wild flowers that almost rivals my attraction to Trilliums. Jacks emerge in wet areas of the forest early in Spring when very little else is ready to brave the cool temperatures. Gotta love them for courage alone!

Then there’s the variation. I’ve seen tiny Jack-in-the-Pulpits, only an inch or two tall, and so lightly green they’re actually transparent. I wonder if I could use a sparkly sheer organza to capture their magic in fabric? The darker Jacks, sometimes called Black Jacks, range in color from deep greens and blues all the way to gorgeous purple stripes.

I wanted to create the look of a dark forest floor for the background of my quilt. All the fabric edges are raw and I stitch them down with glittery metallic threads and lots of variegated colored threads. In an upcoming post, I’ll show how I construct this “palette” for the appliquéd flowers.

My quilt “Jacks” is finished and delivered! I didn’t have enough time with this quilt before it left the studio and I actually won’t mind if it doesn’t find a buyer. I have to say, I’m longing to see Jacks growing in the woods but I’m ok with not making them in fabric for a while. It will take until Spring just to fold and put away the green and brown fabric I have thrown about and piled all over every single surface in my sewing room.

If you are anywhere near Malvern, Pennsylvania, come and see the Art Show at Malvern Retreat House. It’s a wonderful show that supports a good cause. And if you happen to love Jack-in-the-Pulpit wild flowers (or maybe Trilliums, Snowdrops and Ladyslippers!) You can enjoy a Spring preview.

Workin’ On It

I have been working in my studio like a crazy woman. But sewing and quilting hasn’t kept me from blogging. No. It’s been the gremlins. I received such an encouraging response to my question, should I continue with my blog, that I immediately followed up with a second post. But hardly anyone received it. Including me! I signed myself up to receive my blog by email so that I could make sure it was sent. Well, the gremlins got in there and published the blog entry on my website but failed to deliver to readers receiving by email. Wretched creatures, gremlins. Can you hear them snickering?

So I am trying to get this sorted out and it’s aggravating beyond belief and not easy. I had to bake (and eat too many) oatmeal scotchie cookies just to deal with the stress. Gary helped. Eat cookies, that is. If I didn’t have wonderful Holly Knott, website creator and technology wizard working with me, I’d be thumping around hunting for gremlins with a flashlight and gunny sack.

I have confirmed that the list of readers signed up by email is still valid. So this is a test post to see what happens. Hopefully those gremlins have crawled back into their dark lairs. I want to show the Jack-in-the-pulpit quilt I hope to finish tomorrow. And the lady slippers and snow drops and lots of other projects. Seriously, I can’t eat any more cookies.

Thank You!

Wow. It’s hard to write when you’re speechless! Thank you all so very much for your encouragement and kind words. Your comments have sparked my enthusiasm. I will continue to blog with this format. My Mom’s comment wrapped it up, “the yeses have spoken.”

I walked around Longwood Gardens yesterday and the Christmas display is up until January 6. How cool is this birdhouse tree! There are two evergreen trees on either side with treats for birds (and marauding squirrels) that Longwood volunteers replenish daily. So the whole scene is a-twitter with feeding wildlife.

At night the birdhouses are illuminated. Hands down, my favorite Christmas tree at Longwood this year.

There are over 200 birdhouses that will be donated when the tree is dismantled. Do you think they would miss one? I confess… I might have carried out the occasional fallen bloom or interesting leaf over the years. It would be very wrong to jack a birdhouse, I know! But I want one of those big owl houses at the bottom.

My daughter Kira has been waging war. Voles. These voracious tiny beasts devour the roots of every plant on the property. She has tried all kinds of things to eradicate the rodents to no avail. She recently put up this owl house to entice residents to belly up to the vole smorgasbord. Free food! Luxury accommodations! Sadly, so far, no takers. Owls are quite picky about their real estate. She targeted a specific owl (on the vole diet plan) but she thinks she may not have gotten the house high enough. For this mom, that ladder is waaay high enough- gulp. I’m really hoping some owls move in this Spring.

Please note, I really enjoy your comments. They make my day! I was so excited to see names I have been missing and new names I’m not acquainted with yet. For some deeply aggravating reason, WordPress will no longer send the blog comments to my email. So until I get this resolved I will answer from the blog. I appreciate your reading and I’m excited to reconnect with y’all and to share my ramblings. Thank you!

Staging a Comeback

I have not written a blog post since June 2018. I really wondered if I wanted to continue with the blog. Many bloggers have moved to Facebook or Instagram. I hate Facebook, I considered Instagram. I miss writing. I miss connecting with readers through their comments. So I’m thinking about reviving the blog. Will I have any readers or have you all moved on to other social media platforms? I love to share quilt related projects, books I’m reading, wandering and exploring or Longwood Gardens rambles. I’m always very contemplative at the start of a new year. What will the next 12 months be like? So please tell me. Do you still enjoy reading blogs? Should I continue my blog in 2019?

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope there will be good health, meaningful work and satisfying relaxation, bountiful days of enjoying family and friends and some amazing surprises to highlight your journey this year.

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!