Procrastination: A Fine Art

 
Yesterday was a rainy, gloomy day. A perfect day to sew with these bright, colorful Lotta Jansdotter fabrics. I spent too much time looking over my Pinterest boards, trying to find a quilt I'd like to make. This always happens to me. Great fabric, can't find a block pattern I like. I want that sewing machine running! So I pushed the graph paper away, cut some fabric and started to sew.
 
 
Loved the first round. I want to use the solid range of turquoise fabrics, the black and white prints and all the colorful coordinates together…somehow.
 
 
I like the second round but this is just same ol' log cabin.
 
 
Four finished blocks. I like them, but not over the moon excited. I was thinking I would sash the blocks with plain white, trying for that Modern Quilt look.
 
 
Maybe set together with no sashing is better? Not really what I was after.
 
 
How about gray polka dot sashing? I think I like this a little bit. The good thing about all this procrastinating– and that is what I'm really doing, messing around with quilt blocks– is that I got an idea for art work I am supposed to be making. Maybe I should just get back to what I do. Thoroughly Modern Terry isn't working much for me.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Orange

 
Longwood Gardens is resplendent in fall colors.
 
 
Along the flower walk, the mums come in all colors.
 
 
 
 
Orange is probably my least favorite color but these rusty tones put me in such a fall mood I'm tempted to work with this palette.
 
 
This huge pumpkin is for you, Ellis! My little grandson loves pumpkins. Wait til he sees how they turn into jack-o-lanterns.
 
 
Happy Birthday to my husband! This is his favorite – chocolate peach up-side-down cake. What? A proper birthday cake needs frosting in my book. He gets all my calories on this one, and that's a good thing.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Done is Done

 
Ok, not completely done because I haven't quilted yet. But all the blocks are sewn together and that's done enough for now.
 
 
Can't say I like it any better. I've been calling it The Ugly Gypsy Quilt. I'm going to use it to practice my long arm quilting and try to stitch in the ditch around the shapes.
 
 
I got these cool rulers at the Machine Quilting Show when I took a class from Deloa Jones while I was in Illinois. I'm very intimidated to try these rulers. Holding a chunk of plastic against the hopping foot of the Big Beast Machine is scary! So if I screw up old Ugly Gypsy, who cares!
 
 
One problem to solve– there aren't any ditches. I always iron my seams open. I really like my quilt tops to be dead flat, without that bump on one side. I think for this quilt it would have been better to iron the seams toward the circular shape. I don't think that far ahead! Oh, the details matter. They do.
 
 
On to the next! I am really loving this fabric from Lotta Jansdotter. That darn Kelly from Pinkadot Quilts acquainted me with Massdrop. Very dangerous! There is a whole category for sewing and quilting. The turquoise fat quarters I bought in California. I have no idea what I want to do with this fabric. I just want to sew. But I will take more care in selecting a block design. (I probably won't think out the seam pressing tho…)
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Not Feelin’ It

 
These blocks are on my design wall right now. I hate this a lot. You know how sometimes you just want to sew your brains out and you don't want to go rooting around in your stash, tring to find fabric that goes together? Well, I was in the quilt shop and this Malka Dubrawsi fabric collection looked great. I bought everything in the line and brought the project to the Quiltini Pocono Retreat. My BQF's assured me I should keep working with the fabric…there was wine involved…
 
 
Today I put all the blocks on the wall to see how they look together. I viewed them with my reducing gizmo. Sometimes it helps to see the quilt in a more cohesive way. My friend Karen made the cool little bag. I just don't like anything about this quilt. What was I thinking in that shop? So now I need to decide if I go ahead and sew the blocks together or say, life's too short to work on ugly stuff.

 

 

Little Things

 
Looks like a mess of little scraps to sweep into the trash.
 
 
Scraps make wonderful backgrounds for postcards.
 
 
I received an email from a woman who lives in Georgia and is a Master Gardner. She heard about the class I taught at Mt Cuba on making fabric postcards. She asked if she could buy 10 cards for her gardening friends for gifts. Well sure!
 
 
Something else made from scraps by my friend Christine, who never throws a scrap of fabric away if it still had two threads woven together. I love my new pin cushion! It lives on my ironing board.
 
 
I made this little silk bag for my friend Cheryl for her birthday.
 
 
All the Quiltini's gifted Cheryl with an Alex and Ani bracelet with a charm that was meaningful in the friendship. Cheryl and I both love biking and have been on many rides together. Cheryl just biked across the Golden Gate Bridge. Wish I had been there with her.
 
 
But I was in Boulder, Colorado visiting with son Tyler. I can't complain about that!
 
 
 
 

 

MQX

Not only did Janet Stone win Best of Show at the Machine Quilters Exposition, she was the featured quilter with more than 15 quilts on exhibit. I'm so glad the show was in Springfield, Illinois this year so I could take some classes and visit my family.
 
I have seen this quilt published and online but I can't remember the quilt artist that created her self portrait. It was so great to see it in person.
 
 
I also didn't get the name of the quilter who made this double sided quilt. This is the front side.
 
 
And this is the backside.
 
 
My favorite quilt by far was October Sky by Bethanne Nemesh of White Arbor Long Arm Quilting in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Her quilt won an award for Best Machine Quilting on a Stand Up Machine. Hey…Allentown…that's really near where I live. I wonder if she teaches…!
 
 
I am just blown away by the story her amazing stitching tells throughout the quilt. I got some good detail shots to study.
 
 
I don't know how she does this? Marks the design directly on the dupioni silk? Or maybe draws the design on Solvy and stitches through and then removes the tracing? I'm a fan! I'm also intrigued by the lovely trim or piping that she uses so effectively to define borders and edges. I need to know how she does that, too.
 
 
Yes, I came away from the show with lots of questions but I learned a lot, too. I took a class on using rulers with my Long Arm from Deloa Jones. And bought a few in Deloa's booth! I took another class on totally hand guided quilting from Sue Patten. Her style is edgy, never matches and “Unexpected” is a good thing. My third class was with Gina Perks and she demonstrated how to quilt with no backtracking of stitches where everything is even and matched and “Perfect” is the best thing. I guess I got a pretty good overview!
 
 
Seeing the quilts and learning from the Pros was great. But the best part was visiting with my mom, my brother and sister and nephews. I'm not getting on the scale for weeks. There was an apple pie cook off between my mom and my nephew…I'm just sayin'… And a barbecue dinner by candle light in the arbor and a poem read by my sister that brought me to tears. Thanks so much for a wonderful visit!
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Spinning

 
Not spinning class, riding a stationary bike. Not spinning wool on a spinning wheel. My head is spinning! This photo was taken in the Pocono mountains and I am fondly remembering a wonderful, relaxing sewing retreat with my friends. That was just a week and a half ago!
 
 
After the Poconos, I dashed to the Pennsylvania Quilt Show at Oaks where I voted for my favorite quilt. Kelly of Pinkadot quilts made this amazing diary quilt, a year in her life, with a block made every week. The Quiltini's are even immortalized in the second row, second block.
 
 
I absolutely loved this quilt by Shani Leser. The coloration she adds in the facial features is wonderful. I'm thinking of doing a portrait of a little boy from a photo I took in India. I'm very intimidated. So I've been studying faces on quilts.
 
 
On this quilt, Denise Havlan painted her subject. There are so many techniques to use, but I think to be successful, the eyes really have to connect in an emotional way to the viewers. How will I do that? No time to even think yet. After dashing to the show, Gary and I hustled down to Roanoke, VA to help Tanner and darling granddaughters move to a new apartment.
 
 
I really wish these two lived closer.
 
 
Just one day back home to do laundry and repack the suitcase to travel to Springfield, Illinois to visit with my Mom and family members. Oh, and attend the Machine Quilters Expo Show. Darn convenient, huh!
 
 
 
 
 

 

Return to Maine Day Seven

 
Laura and I should be hiking an easy 10 miles from Katahdin Stream Campground back to Abol Bridge. We left that small bit last year when Laura broke her wrist. We actually thought we could hike the day after summitting Mt Katahdin? I can barely hobble down to breakfast in the hotel! Gary is considering using his hiking poles in the hallway!
There has been a stretch of three beautiful days and several hikers are staying in the hotel and recounting their hikes up and down the mountain. We all compare notes and congratulate each other on surviving. And Tim and Laura and Gary and I decide to drive home today. Those 10 miles will just have to wait for another year.
 
 
On the drive home we stop in Kennebunkport for lobster macaroni and cheese.
 
 
And we order the lobster special of the day, some amazing concoction of shrimp in garlic butter sauce in a split lobster. Fantastic! Sure would be nice to have a glass of champaign to toast a successful hike but that will have to wait until we get home. Home is sounding pretty good to me.
 
 
 
 
 

 

Return to Maine Day Six

We have set up our tent inside the Lean-To at Katahdin Stream Campground. I worried that I would not be able to sleep, anticipating tomorrow's hike up and back down the highest peak in Maine, the formidable Mount Katahdin, northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
 
Enjoying a nice campfire and the company of good friends, Laura and Tim, was relaxing and good weather forecast for the next day helped to ease anxiety. A round of Bailey's didn't hurt either!
 
 
We have to start our hike in the early dawn, just before 6am, to allow enough time to climb the mountain and then get back down. On a moderate hike of 10.4 miles, we might easily finish in around 5 hours. The trail to the top is only 5.2 miles, but the elevation gain is 5000 feet. Seriously, that's climbing straight up, hand over hand for most of the way. And of course, 5.2 miles dropping straight down. Strenuous, is an understatement. Why are we smiling here?
 
 
The guys seem pretty pumped too.
 
 
The first mile is fairly moderate to this beautiful waterfall.
 
 
Then the going gets tough. This hike is rated a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 for difficulty. “Short people will be at a serious disadvantage” the Guidebook states. I am a “short person” and many times I have to have Gary let me step in his clasped hands to get up the rocks, or have him haul me up, scrabbling on all fours. I just say to myself, I'm not the shortest person to ever climb this mountain.
 
 
Finely we get above tree line. I'm already tired and I see the Katahdin Spur ahead, the real work of the day. Gary asks, “What have we gotten into?” Two of the young guys hiking along with us choose to go back down now. I've decided that turning back is not an option unless we get injured, Gary really wants to quit or the weather turns bad.
 
 
 
It is amazingly difficult and exhausting and on my mind is– rebar. I know from the Trail Guide that there is a very tough, exposed section up ahead where iron bars are cemented into the rock to aid in climbing. I'm an experienced hiker and I know this is never good. I keep trying not think about it. Just focus on the next foot and hand hold.
 
 
Yeah, that would be the rebar. How on earth will I get up this? It's just sheer rock with nothing to hold on to. I have to wedge myself and brace my shaking legs into the cleft in the rocks until I can get one foot up on the first piece of iron and grab the bar above. Then Gary, already up there, tells me to heave myself up on the rock ledge on my belly. Kind of like powering up out of a swimming pool with arm strength. Holy crap.
 
 
I just keep repeating… Quitting is not an option. I don't have photos of the other section of rebar. It was just too scary to do anything but…do it.
 
 
Up the Katahdin Spur and still on our feet, we arrive at “The Tablelands.” I have been fantasizing about this part for hours! I want to kiss the ground but make my way slowly to the last push to the top. Follow the cairns now.
 
 
We meet Laura and Tim coming down here, the only time we have seen them all day. Laura is terrified of coming down.
 
 
YES!
 
 
YES! For both of us
 
I'm on top of the world and the views are spectacular.
 
 
Wow. They say on a clear day as we have, you can see all the way to the ocean.
 
 
A group of Thru Hikers have walked 2175 miles to end their journey on top of Mount Katahdin and we celebrate with them.
 
 
Gary and I do not spend a lot of time at the top. There is still getting down to accomplish. It takes a long time to carefully lower myself down the huge rocks, sliding on my side, my butt– anyway I can. It is not as strenuous because gravity helps us descend but it is scary and I have to have Gary “spot” me so I don't simply vault off the edges as I let go of my death grip on the granit hand holds. We are both exhausted and have to dig our headlamps out of backpacks as darkness catches us. We arrive in the parking lot at 8 pm so very glad to see Laura and Tim waiting. Incredibly, there are still people that are behind us. Laura and I immediately agree we can't talk about it now. We just want to drive into Milliknocket to our hotel, take a shower and crash into bed.
 
AT Miles 5.2 Back down 5.2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Return to Maine Day Five

It's about time we have an easy hiking day. Today we are hiking a fairly flat section. The Trail even follows an old woods road for a mile or two making for some fast hiking.
 
 
It was hard to get a good photo but the Cooper Brook Falls Lean To even boasts a nice swimming hole.
 
 
No time to dawdle, Gary is waiting for us in the car at the Trail head. Laura and I knock out these easy miles in about two hours.
 
 
This gate was the start of our 40 mile back pack last year. It feels good to connect to the end of the section and check out of logging country at Jo-Mary Road.
Cooper Brook to Jo-Mary Road
AT Miles 7.0

 

Return to Maine Day Three

There really are only two roads in the 100 Mile Wilderness, Jo Mary Road and Katahdin Iron Works Road and both are maintained and controlled by big logging companies. To drive on the roads, you have to register and fill out paper work at the gate house, list your itinerary and duration of stay and pay a hefty fee, per person. Then you have to be really good at navigating miles and miles of unmarked gravel or narrow dirt road and take your life in your hands, jerking the car to the edge of the road to avoid the huge, tandom logging trucks barreling down on you at unbelievable speeds, loaded with monster logs.
And I worry about tripping off a rock ledge while hiking?
We are on our way to the AMC Gorman Chairback Lodge, our home for the next two nights. Finely! I spot a moose!
 
 
Today is a tough hike up Chairback Mountain. Lots of rock talus to climb up and butt slide down. I hope the fabric holds out on my hiking pants…it's been worn prett thin.
 
 
There is also beautiful Fourth Mountain Bog to cross. There are rare insectivor Pitcher Plants and Sundews that trap insects for nutrients. I've only seen these at Longwood Gardens.
 
 
I love bog bridges.
 
 
And I really love it when there is a stairway! It takes weeks and weeks of tremendous hard work for trail crews to construct stairs of rock. It preserves the trail from erosion and sure makes for easier hiking.
 
I've been worried about the Barren Ledges, with their ominous name and something called the Barren Slide that sounds even worse.
 
 
But oh my gosh! The Ledges aren't a bit scary or dangerous. We actually don't even go near the Barren Slide, thankfully.
 
 
A great place for a boots off rest.
 
 
And a look back at Chairback Mountain. Been there, hiked that one.
 
AT miles 7.5 Access trails 2.3
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Return to Maine Day Two

It always amazes me how different the terrain is from one day to the next on the Appalachian Trail.
 
We are hiking across the Chairback Mountain range and there are “fins” of rock to cross, sometimes in the forest.
 
 
Sometimes on exposed ledges with great views. Yeah, that was hairy!
 
 
This photo is for my friend Jane who is “concerned” about walking on narrow trail with a serious drop down on both sides. A missed step here would not have been pretty… but the footing was quite secure. I was so grateful for no weather issues– rain, wind, sleet, snow or any combinations to scare the crap out of me and make the hiking more precarious.
 
 
No river crossings on this stretch. A hiker has placed a leaf to direct the trickle from this spring to make collecting water easier.
 
 
My policy is to treat or filter all water but Tim decided drinking was safe because the spring flowed directly from the rocks near the top of the mountain. Mother Nature's filtration system.
 
 
This was a very strenuous hike up that kicked my butt. My mind is working on the fact that we will be climbing up Mt Katahdin in a few days and the elevation is more than double what we did today. And much steeper.
 
And we still have to go down. What's that tiny white thing? Oh, that's a person waving at us and he's not even a quarter of the way down.
 
Third Mountain to KI Road
AT miles 7.0 Access Trails 1.5
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
.
 
 
 

 

Return to Maine Day One

 
Last week Gary and I drove to Maine to hike another section of the Appalachian Trail. Most of the time I didn't have internet access– or a cell phone signal, for that matter, and if we did have internet, I was way too tired to post. My blog is partly a diary and I might want to remember this hike some day, so I am recounting our trip now that we have returned home. I said “might” want to remember… Here we are at the Kineo View Motor Lodge undaunted at the start.
 
 
Near Greenville and Moosehead Lake, we are hiking in the 100 Mile Wilderness, famous for lack of road access. Almost everyone hiking this section of the Appalachian Trail backpacks, loaded with supplies for about 10 days.
 
 
But we are able to “slack pack” thanks to Laura finding remote logging roads and access trails. This means hiking more miles but we won't have to carry heavy backpacks and can drive back to a hotel and eat in a restaurant. Works for me!
 
 
I really am glad I don't have my big backpack to carry, fording these rivers.
 
 
Or rock hopping across smaller streams.
 
 
Moose did not make it across Big Wilson Stream…
 
 
But we all crossed safely, even though the cable was almost out of reach for Laura and I.
 
 
This is what happens to bridges in the high mountains of Maine. The ice breake-up and raging water during snow melt just destroys the structure and washes the ruble down stream.
 
Long Pond to Little Wilson Falls
AT miles 8.8 Access trail .8
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Twins!

No, not twin grand kids…but that would be really, really great! I decided I could not part with the quilt I made to donate to the International Quilt Association's Celebrity Mini Quilt Silent Auction at the Houston Quilt show.
So I made another one. Now I can't decide which one to donate, the darker leaf on the left, or the more aqua colored leaf on the right?

 
I'm mulling over the decision with a slice of peach pie. I made this pie in honor of my daughter, Caitlin's birthday this week. She likes pie for her birthday cake and even though she now lives so far away in California, I think it is important to carry on family traditions. Gary agrees. Now, this isn't the prettiest pie I've ever made. I can craft a really beautiful deckel edge, woven lattice pie crust. But what would be the point? All that time consuming hard work would be hidden under the monster big slab of vanilla ice cream I'm putting on top of my piece. And, now I have more time to sew!

 

Surrogate Quilter

 

I've been asked to donate a small wall quilt for this year's International Quilt Association's Celebrity Mini Quilt Silent Auction. The quilts will be hung during the annual judged show, Quilts…A World of Beauty, in Houston, Texas. I love that word celebrity! The quilt makers are authors, teachers, IQA Board Members and past Quilt Show award winners. That's me!

My quilt Mayapples won First Place in the Art Quilt Landscape category.

 

 

This year, my newest quilt, Sweetwater Gap Bloodroot, has been accepted into the competition and I am planning on going to Houston to enjoy the show. So, in making the donation quilt, why not pull out all the stops.
 
 
The quilts can be any style or technique, but I decided to do a small “Remarque” of the quilt that will be hanging in the show. I've had little time for creative sewing with the hiking trip to Maine and welcome Little Bodie trip to California. So I've been anxious to get back in the studio.
 
 
I selected some of the same fabrics used in the larger quilt and had fun with the blocks, quilting in my Layered Technique style. I love being able to use all kinds of threads, even the really glittery ones.
 
 
I have put the blocks up on my design wall so I can audition the silk center squares and flower appliqué pieces.
 
 
I like the quilt when the blocks are sewn together, even before the leaves and flowers are added.
 
 
This time I chose to fuse the appliqué down using Wonder Under. I left the edges of the leaves raw but finished the flower bud with a very tiny zigzag stitch to prevent the silk from fraying too much. Here is a close up of the free motion quilting on the appliqué.
 
 
Usually I finish my quilts in this block style with a Knife Edge finish for a clean, more contemporary look. I used this wonderful striped batique fabric as the facing on the back of the large Bloodroot quilt. It was screaming, Binding! at me for this small quilt.
 
 

The quilt is finished except for a label on the back and I have a big problem. I really like it! I don't want to donate it to the auction! This quilt would be a perfect example of fusing appliqué on the quilted top for my Quilting in Layers workshops. What to do? Send my new quilt “child” off to the black hole of Texas and into the hands of a stranger? I'm going to have to think about this…