From Grrrrr to Wah Hoo!

It wasn't such a great start to Thursday morning. I was driving to Hershey to meet my friend Christine at the Quilt Odyssey Show. Stuck in traffic on the Pennsylvania turnpike, I actually had an extra hour to eat a leasurely lunch in my car, staring at the blank expanse of the rear of the semi truck in front of me. Then, it took 30 minutes to get a parking space and walk from the hinterlands into the convention center. Grrrrrr.
But my day abruptly changed for the better when I saw the red ribbon hanging next to my quilt, Sweetwater Gap Bloodroot. Christine arrived before I did and tho we texted back and forth several times while I was fuming enroute, she never gave me a hint. I was so surprised! I hadn't even thought to ask if she had seen the quilt. Wah hoo! Way to change my attitude!
It was so fun to see quilters taking a close look. I know they're asking each other, how did she do those squares?
Everyone these days seems to think they have way too much fabric and quilting “stuff.” I have lots…but I plan to sew up all that fabric! I don't let it burden me into not getting new stuff, like this cute appliqué organizer.
These fabric bundles called to me at Webfabrics.
And Fat Quarters are as hard to resist as Snickers.
This packet from Quilt Basket contains 16 Fat Eighths. It might be perfect for a new Quilt in Layers. I don't know how any of my new fabrics will be used. For now, they're just lolling around the sewing room, making me happy.
That alone is worth a Wah Hoo!



Air Conditioning

Well, it's “pay the man” time for the lovely crisp, cool air last week. The temperature is supposed to hit 97 today and stay in the 90's the rest of the week. I am cowering in the air conditioning. And I'm not the only one. Gary did not play golf or tennis yesterday. Gasp! He just left to go to Dicks Sporting Goods. To fondle the clubs? To ward off some kind of withdrawal fit? I guess I should have inquired about this trip since he isn't much of a shopper. I'm interested to see if something expensive comes home with him.

While it's a heat wave outside, it's great Longarming weather inside. I've been working on this gorgous log cabin quilt for a new customer. The size is right at the limits of my frame and machine.

The quilt is intended for a wedding gift and the client did not want a large build up of thread, making the quilt stiff. She thought an open, meandering design would work. My first thought was a basic leaf but when I drew it out, the leaves gave me a “green” feeling. I liked the second attempt, oak leaves and acorns much better.
I recently quilted this quilt. Similar to a T shirt, a new trend is to cherish memories using a child's baby clothes. My friend Susie pieced the quilt, carefully selecting the beautiful and fun parts of the little dresses and rompers. It was a bit of a challenge to hold up the collars and loose motifs to quilt around, but it adds so much interest it was well worth the effort.
What I enjoyed most was selecting quilting patterns. With so many different design ideas to choose from, I just let myself have fun filling the spaces.
The back showed off like a whole cloth sampler. Quilting this quilt made me wish I had saved my own children's little outfits. I can't imagine how I would have preserved anything to piece after cutting away all the stains tho!



Quilt Exhibit

On the way home from MAQ, my friend Jane and I detoured through Harrisburg to see the 20/20 Quilt Exhibit at the Susquehanna Art Museum. Twenty contempory quilts and twenty traditional quilts were selected. In the curator's notes, Pat Pauly says the exhibit is “an open discussion on both the stylistic changes in the quilt genre, and the new work that has transformed the term quilt.”
I thought that the quilts would all be hung in pairs, and some were. Like this quilt by Sue Benner in front of an Amish quilt.
Another paired set of old and new quilts. Most of the traditional quilts were sewn by “Unknown Maker” and many were from the Pilgrim/Roy Collection. The art quilt is by Paula Kovarik.
Sometimes the quilts were side by side. This Amish style quilt kept company with this contemporary quilt.
Jane Sassaman is a well known quilt artist and has influenced many quilters.
I love the detail in her quilting stitch. It's difficult to photograph, but the black borders are also quilted with the patterned stitching. The traditional quilts hanging near this quilt were not so obviously paired, giving the viewer a chance to explore her own connections and comparisons.
I always try to appreciate the sight lines in an art exhibit. So much thought goes into the longer views. Just beyond my camera range, is an enormous pieced quilt by Eleanor McCain, unfortunately my photo was out of focus. I think it would be interesting to collect and compile the photos taken. I hardly snapped any pictures of the traditional quilts but I bet Jane's camera has every one, with 5 detail shots of each.
This was my favorite quilt, made by Ginny Smith. I think it represents the old and new in quilt making. Some of the fabrics chosen are new, like the Asian themed quilt fabric in the vases. The block backgrounds have the look of old shirtings and may actually be from repurposed clothing.
She also used both machine stitching and hand stitching on her quilt.
I enjoyed seeing all the quilts, both old and new. I'm thinking about my own work and how the traditions of the past influence what I do. I've often thought my quilts are not “quilty” enough for traditional rules and not “artsy” enough for the art world. It isn't important to me to “fit into” either genre, but it is interesting to hear the dialog going on in my head. I think this is what Pat Pauly ment by “open discussion.” The quilts are glorious, beautifully displayed and thoughtfully selected. I appreciated the timeless language of design and felt inspired creatively.
Quilts 20/20 Traditional Works Contemporary Art is on view until August 30.





It’s a Wrap!

I was filled with anticipation to finely be driving to Emmitsburg, Maryland to teach Quilting in Layers at MidAppalachian Quilters Conference. I thought I would just take my time to enjoy traveling through beautiful Lancaster County– and watch out for Amish buggies sharing the road.
The instructions on my supply list said to bring beautiful fabrics and the students did not disappoint me. Susan's project is to illustrate a color challenge. She showed the class a beautiful “sketch book” of photos and magazine page inspirations. Oh my gosh, I wanted to slyly slide that book into my bag and take it home! Umm…her quilt, too.
This quilter does not fear color. Looking at this composition now, I am trying to analyze why these very different fabrics, colors and textures go together so well. Have I mentioned before that I learn so much from my students?
Ellie chose a softly quiet palette. She fussy cut the flowers and has some green blocks to create a woodland feel for her quilt. It reminds me of the elegance of tiny wild flowers.
Another color scheme, with plans to mix in some shiny fabrics for center squares, to bring in a touch of sparkle.
I loved every single thing about this quilt. This quilter auditioned center squares set straight, then off centered and randomly angled. She placed some strips on top to see if she wanted to inset strips. I hope she sends me a photo of the finished quilt.
I had a great time at the conference, both teaching and learning from my students and the other instructors. I only regret two things. I wish I had taken pictures of the beautiful campus at Mount St. Mary's and I was just too busy to take more photos during my class.
Also, I ate waaaay too much ice cream…


Almost Time


I bought lots of colors of shot cottons at the big vender mall at the quilt show in Houston last October. I had a project in mind for my new class at MidAppalachian Quilters Conference.
With so many color choices available, I decided to just make blocks, enjoy the combinations and decide how they will all go together later. Pure color play! I do like the solid color blocks above better than these two tone–err, three tone squares. I want that curve to be prominent.
Notice the smaller curve, just to mix it up. Playing with the layout is fun. I think I should call this quilt, Skittles. Actually, I hate Skittles…they're not chocolate, why eat the calories?
Going up.
Going down.
Going sideways.
I think there is some complicated Math formula for figuring out how many combinations you can get from a collection of things… Which escapes me at the moment– hah. I am taking a cell phone photo so I can review these block settings on my ipad.
Enough playing and drifting into Math nightmares, I've committed to sewing the blocks together. Last decision is, traditional binding or knife-edge facing?
Facing it is and my last sample is finished.
MAQ here I come!


4th of July

Happy 4 th of July! I made this quilt a few years ago to contribute to the Quilts of Valor Foundation. The mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting quilts.
Today I made 3 blocks to contribute to Calico Cutters Quilt Guild’s goal of 50 blocks this month. All of the blocks the members make will be given to the Tel Hai quilters to make into soldier quilts.
I’ve never actually used this method of sewing a large square to make half square triangles before.
It was easy and fast. I like it better than sewing the squares individually. Especially when you need 8 HST’s of the same two fabrics.
A trim of the “dog ears” and you have nice, accurate triangles.
Three cheers for the red, white and blue!










I've been to Longwood Gardens many times in the evening for fireworks and other events. This summer, there are no fireworks or fountain shows because the large fountains and grounds in front of the conservatory are being renovated.
There are other enticements to visit, such as the outdoor Beer Garden with live music on Thursday nights.
But the main attraction this summer is the new installation of a “light and sound experience.” Last night Gary and I attended the members only opening, and the gardens were packed with people.
I tried taking photos and even attempted a video but I could not begin to capture the effects. Different colors and patterns of light are projected onto a textured landscape of plantings. The locations vary from the topiary garden to the banana tree house and the texture of the living canvas transforms the light into a dimensional art experience.
In the conservatory, the lights are projected onto a sort of suspended, huge disco ball made out of big vines and plant materials. As mesmerizing and interesting as this was, I was starting to think, this kinda feels like the acid trip I never took, back in college in the 70's. If the music had been selections from “Hair” I would have sworn I was tripping!
And then we walked down to the lake across from the tree house. Longwood has set up low chairs to view the lights projected on the water, and against the backdrop of trees in Pierce Woods.
This is where the magic unfolds. Before my eyes, the glimmer of white lights start to depict mist arising from the water surface. Leaves tremble and it seems as if a gust of wind blows across the trees. The mist dissolves into clouds and rain. Then dragon flies dance above the lake, their wings trailing helix drifts of light that turn into waterfalls on the huge backdrop. It is so dimensional I can hardly believe the fish jumping and the splash into the water are not real. How incredible! With just a subtle touch of color, the seasons change and leaves drift down in autumn, snow falls, new buds glimmer in spring.
I was so enchanted I watched three times and I can't wait to go back again. Disney could not have done better! If you are in this area, or can arrange a trip, don't miss this experience.

Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience by Klip Collective

Wednesdays through Saturdays,
Now–October 31, 2015




Car House

I've always wanted to drive an RV across country on an exploring vacation. The lure of the open road, everything we need with us, no schedule, just freedom to experiance what comes our way. Gary is less enthusiastic about this plan. “How about trying a week-long trip first?” always said using that Voice of Reason tone.
Ok, good sense and reason prevail. As a Father's Day surprise, I rented a 30 foot RV and planned out a trip to Virginia, loading golf clubs, bikes and fishing poles and including two cutie grand kids. Nothing wrong with stacking the deck for success.
Off to a great start, Gary pretty quickly got the hang of driving a huge cube of a vehicle with no excelation to speak of, on the gentle back roads of Lancaster county. I'm the helpful passenger reminding him, “this is not a Porsche.”
Since we got on the road about three hours later than planned, it was black dark night when we reached the mountains of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Did you know it is possible for dense, pea soup fog and torrential, driving rain to happen at the same time? Oh, now throw in gusty wind, low hanging tree branches and a very black bear running across the road… “S*#t! Was that thing a bear?” “Yeah! We missed him!” Yup, it was an auspicious start to the trip.
No one slept in the tent.
Not with a fun loft to sleep in, big enough for three.
Outdoor showers are better than inside showers.
Especially after sticky pop sickles.
We parked our “car house” in the campground at Pipestem Resort in beautiful West Virginia, on the top of the mountain. We took the tram down to the excellent restaurant deep down in the gorge.
On the way down we saw a waterfall, a raccoon and two deer but I was enjoying watching the little girls too much to snap pictures.
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner overlooking the river we crossed in the tram. Gary had scallops, Tanner ordered steak au poivre and I had beef braciole. Very appreciated after camp fare of hot dogs.
Many years ago, Gary's mother made this cookie jar for my children.
It seemed like Father's Day was the perfect time to pass it along to my son and grandchildren.
I hope I have also passed along an appetite for adventure and a love of the outdoors to my granddaughters. This trip in the “car house” was a fun beginning. Maybe someday we'll sleep in the tent!



Another Finish

The Panic Button is now fully engaged. The stress of a deadline can really be motivating. It can also unleash a wild, crazed fabric buying spree. Note to students– just buy it! I had fun with this line of fabrics called “Figures” by Moda. There are a few additional fabrics from other Moda collections with similar colors.
I didn't want to have to think too much about block placement so an easy composition was in order. I did take some time to arrange colors and patterns of strips I'll insert into my squares.
This was an easy quilt sample that went together quickly for my up-coming Geometric Quilting in Layers class at MAQ.
If I get stuck dithering about anything, it's usually binding. Does the white with dark blue crosses look best? Or the light blue with dark blue crosses? Maybe the dark blue with light blue crosses? The heck with it! Use'em all!
P.S. I know you're asking. Yes, I did fussy cut the binding and sew carefully so that the crosses all lined up nicely. Pretty tricky, huh!


Get Sewing!

My hand is hovering right over the panic button. Mid-Appalachian Quilters Conference is less than three weeks away. I still have sample quilts for the class to finish! I want the students to have a super easy option. In the class write up, I say, “Bring some beautiful fabric you love.” That's pretty vague, but the small quilt we make in class works with almost any fabric. The fabrics above are from several lines by Moda with some batiks and fabrics from my stash mixed in.
Thread is important in this technique. You want your threads to show. My favorites are the variegated King Tut threads. I'll have a huge selection for sale because many quilters aren't familiar with this gorgous thread.
For this quilt — no worries! I'm not pre-planning my block placement or direction. I just choose thread for each block. I want some threads to match and blend in and some threads to have color contrast.
Sew like a demon! I think this quilt could almost be finished in class. The quilted blocks go up on my design wall for consideration. I wish I had taken a picture of my rejected blocks. There are four extra blocks that just didn't make the cut in the color composition. Have I ever mentioned that I could hand out mug rugs for a week at Starbucks?
I've decided to put a traditional binding on this quilt and none of these fabrics are in the blocks so they might work.
Auditioning bindings. Do I dare to use that wild polka dot?
Sure! Wilder the better, right? One sample done, several more to go. Yikes.


Bobble Head Dinner

I only had a few days to rest up after hiking before I needed to go on a crazed house cleaning, shopping and cooking whirlwind. A month ago, with several friends, and Gary and I attended a Grgich Hills wine tasting dinner at DuPont Country Club. We all decided it would be a fun idea to take turns hosting a wine dinner. Whoever ended up with the Miljenko Grgich bobble head centerpiece was up first. That would be us. This all seemed like a great idea weeks ago, before the hike.


Gary and I both cooked and prepped food for hours. Why was I thinking I needed to set a high bar? Whole lotta work!
The Menu
Starter Grilled artichokes with smoked tomato pesto
Dinner Filet mignon with cilantro chimichuri sauce
Grilled asparagus and Vidalia onions
Goat cheese and chive roasted potatoes
Desert Chocolate mousse with ripe strawberries, amaretto creme
I guess we should have served Grgich Hills Estate wines but the wine store had a 20% off sale on Italian wine. Italian it is!
The house looked good after “puffin' and fluffin” as my friend Peggy says. I need some lessons in flower arranging from her. I loved the table centerpiece I made until I walked away and the dang thing crashed over. How do you get the florest foam to stay down, anyway? Note to self– duct tape does not stick when wet. At all. Not even a little bit. Finely used wire and with Gary's help rescued the flowers. I was frazed.
Everything looked beautiful, the weather was perfect, the candlelight just right and the food was delishious. Friends gathered around the table to enjoy dinner and wine and the good company of each other. What could be better!
Passing on that bobble head. Oh yeah!



Shenandoah Day Seven

I'm hoping to see another bear on our last hiking day but the noise I hear is only a browsing deer. Since deer regularly make an appearance in my yard at home and devour anything I have planted, I don't consider them that special, but it feels nice to see them in Shenandoah.


I didn't think I would get to finish this section hike. Laura discovered oil leaking under her car. We drove into Waynesboro after hiking to have it checked out–not so easy at eight o'clock at night. There wasn't a drop of oil left in the car but after tightening the oil filter, which was ready to fall off, and pouring in three quarts of oil, we were on the Trail early this morning. It's nice to know we've reached the top of Calf Mountain. I always add a rock to the cairn for good luck.
Signs at the top of the mountain are very nice also. It's sometimes hard to tell that you have actually reached the top because there can be several false summits, usually on really big mountains that feel like the killer unending stairway to heaven.
On the way down Little Calf Mountain, a hiker coming up tell us to watch for a garden of lady slippers.
Wow! They're everywhere. I've never seen so many lady slippers growing in profusion like this. How wonderful. Equally as good as siteing a bear.
I love climbing over fences on styles. It seems so old world and lovely. In places where they use gates to keep livestock corralled, I bet there's an app on your iPhone to operate them.
On this gate, someone has left a message.
“Go everywhere. Study everything. Fear nothing.”
A profound sentiment to ponder on the last mile to the trailhead. Laura and I have chattered our way down the Trail for the past week but we are quiet now, thinking about how we have enjoyed our time together. This has truely been a perfect hike. Shenandoah National Park is a special part of the world and my love for these mountains is soul deep. I think when I'm in my rocking chair and my mind drifts back to my Appalachian Trail journey, these past days are the ones I will savor most in memory.
Sawmill Overlook to Rockfish Gap
Miles hiked 10.4
Bears sited 0
Total Section Big Meadows to Rockfish Gap
Miles hiked 62.8
Appalachian Trail 2175 – 1453 = 722 miles remaining
Woohoo! I have less than a third of the Trail left!



Shenandoah Day Six

Right out of the Trailhead we start assending Blackrock mountain. I'm glad we don't have to scrabble to the actual top of this jumble of rocks. It would be nice to see the full circle view but I'm content to just walk around on this easy path. Only in Shenandoah National Park is the Appalachian Trail so accommodating.
It's much warmer today and getting humid, too. Laura and I are very grateful for every waft of cool breeze. The rhododendron and mountain laurel are starting to open blooms. I think this could be a quilt but I'm not sure how I would do all those tiny star-like bud shapes.
This is an amazing old oak tree. Laura speculates it was around before the American Revolution.
Another beautiful old tree. I guess this is “tree” day which is pretty ironic since we are hiking to Sawmill Overlook. We have hiked thru big open meadows and the top of Turk Mountain was open and grassy. The guide book explains that these areas were used as pastures before residents were relocated to create the national park. Did the farmers save a few big oak trees to provide some shade? I don't know, but I'm glad these huge trees are still here for me to admire.
Blackrock Parking to Sawmill Overlook
Miles hiked 11.3
Bears sited 0


Shenandoah Day Five

Today's hike starts with crossing Ivy Creek. Just an easy rock hop across this trickle of a stream. This is the only water we will cross on our entire hike. The Appalachian Trail follows the top of the ridge line for much of Shenandoah National Park, which allows for gorgous views of the valleys and distant mountains. It does make it difficult for ThruHikers to obtain drinking water and they don't get to see the waterfalls, cascading down in the lower regions. Lucky for me that I have hiked to all the waterfalls over the many years that I have been coming to the park.
I looked really hard but I didn't see any jack-in-the-pulpits in the Ivy Creek drainage. But I found three pink lady slippers.
Many people don't know that lady slipper orchid leaves and stems are poisin and can cause a rash as nasty as poisin ivy. Touch me not!
Finely! Finely! Finely! I see a bear! I thought I heard the sound of a bear scampering up a tree. Their claws make a distinct clicking sound on the tree trunk that I've heard before. I stop and scan the woods, yep, that dark shadow is moving– way too close to me. Laura is pretty far behind me and I don't want to yell to her so I just back up very slowly. Mama bear isn't very interested in me, she's making sure her cub is safe up in the tree.
I couldn't get a good picture of the cub with the limited zoom on my phone camera. Darn. He is the cutest, tiny ball of fur! Several ThruHikers come down the Trail and are thrilled to watch the bears for a while.The hikers are anxious to take a side trail up to the Loft Mountain Wayside where they can get burgers and blackberry milkshakes but Mother bear is not going to move off while her baby is in the tree. Laura and I continue on at the junction since our trail moves away from the bears.
Tonight we are tenting at Loft Mountain Campground. Not as luxurious as Big Meadows Lodge, but no freeze dried dinner for us. After setting up camp, we drove to the Loft Wayside to test those burgers and blackberry milkshakes for ourselves. Delishious! Definitely worth risking a bear attack for. Um…not really!
Relaxing at the end of a perfect day. Milkshakes and bears!
Ivy Creek Overlook to Blackrock Parking
Miles hiked 10.6
Bears sited 2 Yeaaaa!



Shenandoah Day Four

Last night Laura and I stayed in a rustic cabin at Lewis Mountain, two small bedrooms connected by a tiny bathroom. A noise woke me up about 3 am. Laura in the bathroom? No, not that kind of noise. More like a loud scratching and scrabbling sound and it is definitely in my room. Crap. A mouse is into my food! I get up and gather all my trail snacks, wrap them up and put them high up on the clothes wrack. I was just falling asleep when the noise started again. Crap. The dang rodent is in the waste basket, long tail hanging over the edge, gnawing on a discarded peanut butter container. I bang the waste basket with my hiking pole and the mouse jumps for cover under the dresser. Waste basket goes up on the clothes wrack also and thankfully I don't hear any more out of him.
Hiking through Shenandoah National Park is wonderful. For some reason, the Appalachian Trail locators didn't find it necessary to make hikers clamber over every single rock pile.
The rocky viewpoints are just a few steps off the Trail and you don't gave to risk life and limb to take a look. Notice how short my poles are? I broke one of them and I had to attempt a temporary repair with duct tape. I have carried that tape over 1300 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia and finely used it for the first time.
I'm very happy that the Trail is so moderate that I don't need my poles much of the time. Wild flowers lining the path are lovely, too.
This beautiful old spring flows right out of the mountainside. We aren't collecting water on our “Glam” hike. What a luxury to have bottled water and even a soda in our backpacks today.
Another gorgous day in the Shenandoahs. We are back at Big Meadows Lodge tonight. Hopefully in a mouse-free room.
Skyline 66.7 to Ivy Creek Overlook
Miles hiked 11.9
Bears sited 0