I’m Neutral

  

This has been the view, looking out my studio windows, for the past few days. I didn’t apply a gray filter to the photo– it really is that dreary.

 

These are the fabrics I’ve been piecing for a quilt! Does it look like I need Prozac? When I bought them, they looked soothing, soft and neutral. I thought I might make a quilt for my son, but now, the fabrics don’t look “manly” enough. My daughter is painting her Manhatten apartment in trendy grays. Maybe she’ll like the quilt.

  

These are the 7 inch finished blocks I’m making from the “Fat Quarter Style” book.

  
The pattern uses the construction method of drawing a sewing  line and placing a square on top of the corner block.

  
Then, trimming a quarter inch from the sewn line. And WAISTING a ton of fabric! Yeah, sure, you could use those half square triangles by sewing the slippy bias edges. But they aren’t part of the quilt pattern so you’d have to figure out the design. Or, you could use them in a different quilt. Probably requiring another trip to the fabric store to get more fabric. Maybe I do need Prozac… feeling grumpy with this.

 
 
Well, here’s an idea.  While I have the pencil in my hand, draw 2 lines, a half inch apart and sew on both lines, then cut down the middle.  
 
I don’t know what I’ll do with the resulting 4 1/4 inch blocks but no way am I throwing out the fabric. 

  
While I’m sewing the (dreary?) (trendy gray?) blocks I can look straight ahead at my design wall and see this awesome panel by Hoffman. It’s a rainbow explosion of color! I spotted this fabric on the bolt at the Old Country Store in Lancaster and I really wanted it. But what do you do with it? My friend Ginger said I needed it. I D & F’d (dithered and fretted) and watched others buy it until there was only one panel left. Mine! Of course I can’t cut into it…but I smile every time I look up from the sewing machine and that’s better than Prozac!

Art Show

  
I’ve been home from a wonderful vacation in Mexico for 4 days. I knew I’d have to face the music the minute I walked in the door. I promised a quilt for the Malvern Retreat House Art Show that needed to be delivered on Monday. The quilt wasn’t finished!

  
I had finished appliquéing the center squares before I left.

 
 
I had the blocks sewn and most of the appliqué pieces together but I still needed to make several sets of leaves. Arrrghh! We were to arrive late Saturday night and I would have all day Sunday to finish. Very tight on time but possible. However, our connecting flight was cancelled and we spent the night in Charlotte, not getting home until noon on Sunday.

  

Full on panic mode! Before I sewed the center squares, I tacked up my freezer paper templates and took a photo for reference. I don’t usually work this way, I have the composition fully planned on my full size paper pattern. Otherwise, I’m putting up and taking down the blocks too many times. 

  
I dropped the suitcases in the hall, continued waking to the studio, throwing over my shoulder, “Gary, go to the grocery store and get something for lunch. Oh, and dinner is on you.”  I started making leaves and fusing the trillium flowers onto the quilt top. 

  
I had to machine quilt all the flowers, leaves and stems. 


Lucky for me, the quilting was going very well and I was in the zone until about 7 o’clock when my wonderful husband announced dinner was ready, complete with a glass of red wine (just to prevent lint lung, you know.) That gave me enough of a power surge to finish the detail stitching, make the facing for the binding, sew it on, along with the sleeve and declare, “DONE!”  Well after midnight. Yawn….

 

 

The lighting was not very good Monday morning to snap a quick photo. I drove to Malvern to drop my artwork off at my appointed time of 9:30. I was suffering from a serious caffein deficit and totally forgot the hanging slates! Aarrrghh! I had to drive all the way back home, hack saw slats and screw in eyelets for the hangers. On the return trip back to Malvern, I realized you just can’t drive on gas fumes and slid into the gas station, which was right across from Starbucks. Boom! Life is good.

Tonight is the Artist’s Wine and Cheese Reception. I’m going to enjoy a glass of wine and get one for Gary, too.  If you are in the area, do come and see wonderful artwork in many mediums and support a worthy cause at Malvern Retreat House.
  

Tres

  

The John Denver song, “Calypso” played in my head as we sat on the boat. Tres, as in a trip to snorkel three reefs, Sky, Columbia and Palankar. Really, the reef just off shore of the island of Cozumel is one long reef, but some sections are named because of unique coral structures and different marine life. Palankar reef was made famous by Jacque Cousteau in the 1970’s and showed TV audiences a fantastic view under the sea.

  

There is a steep drop off they call the wall. You can see exactly where it is because the shallow water is the most incredible intense turquoise that abruptly changes to dark navy blue. It is amazingly beautiful. 

  

I saw schools of bright colored fish, a spotted black and white sting ray, puffy starfish and lots of other stuff I couldn’t begin to name. 

   

 Back on land, the water was so calm, not a ripple of a wave. It was a perfect day to snorkel. Maybe there will be enough wind to take the hobi cat out another time. 

  
Time for a “sundowner” to reflect on the day and offer a toast to the beauty of the envirnment, vacations, relaxation and to each other.

Cenotes

   
  

I dipped a toe in first…cold! A cenote is a sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. In the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. Gulp! I can imagine this as I peer down into the absolutely crystal clear water. Gary and I and a few other sacrificial victims, uh, tourists, are going to snorkel and swim the river to the ocean. 

Sorry but I can’t take any photos because, first, I just have to plunge in or loose my nerve and second, no way to bring my phone or camera. I can tell you, it was amazing! We felt the upwelling of the water from the underground river and the current moves pretty swiftly. There are schools of bright colored fish, orangy little crabs and on one of the branches overhead, a black eagle perched. Sometimes the river eddys into sunlit pools, but most of the time it is a narrow channel big enough for one person, with a mangrove and vine woven roof.  

 
The river is joined by a second river and the flow of current is so strong that when I tried swimming back into the mangroves, it was totally impossible.  We were pushed out toward the ocean, like it or not!

  
I did like it! The ocean water is much warmer. 

  

You need to swim around two jettys to reach the beach.

 

That was fun! Now time to collapse in the cabanas and order some “refreshment.”

Blanket Statements

 
I was a fan of Kaffe Fassett long before he joined the quilting community.
 
 
Christine and I traveled to the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown to see the exhibit of new quilts by Kaffe and historical quilts from the collection of the Quilt Museum and Gallery in York, England.
 
 
The exhibit is wonderful. Kaffe selected 15 quilts dating from 1780 to 1949 and created a contemporary quilt in response.
 
In addition, Liza Lucy also followed Kaffe's design, and sewed the quilt in a different colorway.
 
 
Sometimes the redesign of the historical quilt is quite direct.
 
 
Other quilts seemed a more simplified design than the original.
 
 
There were opportunities to interact with fabric in hands-on displays and educational videos.
 
 
In an accompanying exhibition, Pattern Pieces, shows works by three artists. Laura Cheney constructed quilt-like collages of salvaged materials gathered after Superstorm Sandy.
 
 
 
Some of these works reminded me of my quilts and gave me some ideas for Quilting in Layers.
 
 
This was an amazing installation of columns of quilt shapes using oil and wax on paper and canvas by Alan Goldstein.
 
 
Another, more traditional orientation of the paper shapes.
 
 
After all that inspiration, Christine and I needed to rest and have some lunch. Pennsylvania Soup and Seafood, just a block away from the museum was perfect and the food was delicious.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Nature’s Prisims

 
 
Yesterday afternoon was the artist reception at the Jenkin's Arboretum display of quilts.
 
 
It was nice to mingle with folks viewing the quilts, the other artists and supporters of this wonderful arboretum while enjoying a glass of wine.
 
 
The quilts were beautifully displayed. What a difference it makes to see your quilt hung with museum lighting.
 
 
That's Gary off to the left, mesmerized with the quilt display…maybe. I tried to get a picture of Christine, in the middle in red, but she talks with her hands. She has four quilts in the show.
 
 
I talked to quilters I haven't seen in a while. My friend Gloria is standing in front of an amazing quilt called “Crop Circles” by Joanne Shapp.
 
 
Rosemary McBride is explaining a bit about her quilt, Summer, toward the top. The quilt below, with the detail appearing in the Jenkin's announcement, is Lilac Construction by Barbara Bugliani.
 
 
It is so hard to get a good photo of this quilt, Sylvan Refractions, that I made especially for the show. I love the colors in real life but they don't appear as vibrant in photos.
 
 
I am glad I have a nice picture of this quilt, Trillium Ridge, because it won't be coming home. It has sold and I am so happy that someone else will enjoy the quilt and maybe have a connection with my love of trilliums.
If you are in the Devon, Pennsylvania area, the Nature's Prism Quilt Display is showing until February 7. Seeing the quilts is well worth a visit, and if the weather cooperates, a walk in the arboretum, might be lovely, too.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

No Ordinary Quilt

 
I'm not usually one to back away from a challenge, but with longarm quilting on customers quilts, my policy is, first, do no harm. Oh my gosh! Susan emailed me photos of her absolutely stunning wool applique top to ask if I would quilt it. She would bring it to me from her home in Atlanta. The top is 54, 8 and a half inch finished blocks.
 
 
 

Susan's quilt is a reproduction of a quilt done in 1865 in Lynnfield, Massachusetts by Emily Munroe. The original quilt is currently owned by the New England quilt museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, and Froncie Quinn of Hoopla Patterns was given permission to recreate the pattern. Emily’s quilt was done using wool applique on wool and twill and is not quilted.



Susan wanted her quilt to be quilted so she selected Cherrywood Hand Dyed fabric for the applique base. She said she mostly followed the pattern of floral designs but varied the colors, using brighter wool in the applique as well as the Cherrywoods. Look at the beautiful hand embroidery around the blossoms. Sometimes she outlined with two different floss colors.


 
I hung Susan's quilt over my frame and just admired it. For a long time. A really long time. Totally intimidated, I googled wool quilts. I googled appliquéd quilts. I googled longarm quilted wool applique quilts. You know, procrastination can be an art form.

 

 
Then I mocked up a silly looking block (which I am not showing) with similar fabrics to try a test run. My fear was being able to stay very close to the wool pieces to outline quilt. I worried that the travel stitches in quilting all those tiny, multiple leaves would look like a big ol' thread mess. What would happen when I crossed over the many chain-stitched stems? I could envision all kinds of ways to thoroughly screw up this wonderful quilt.
 
 
Well heck! Sometimes the quilting goddess looks down and smiles graciously. After all the quivering and shaking I was doing, (what I refer to as, D&F — dither and fret) it was easy! No issues! The quilting looked good!
 
 
I think the quilting is subtle and does the job intended, enhancing the applique by popping it from the background, holding the quilt together and unifying the top. Big fffwhew!
 
 
I completely enjoyed quilting this top. I was immersed in each block. I thought about the history. There are four horses in the center, the two black horses said to honor Emily's brothers who were in the calvary during the Civil War. I loved Susan's colors and variations, adding her personal touch to her quilt.
 
 
Best of all, Susan was pleased. Thank you for allowing me to quilt this amazing quilt. It was a good learning experience in quilting and life. It reminded me to embrace challenges. I think that's important.
 
 

 

Some Nice Quilts

 
Oh, I have been so remiss in showing beautiful quilts my customers have had me longarm quilt. Actually, I have been remiss in many things– like keeping up with the blog. I was crazy busy longarm quilting right before Christmas and I'm just now taking a breath.
This quilt was made by Leslie. She wanted a clean line quilting design that followed some of the piecing direction.
 
 
Leslie inspired her friend, Bunny, a new quilter, to make the same quilt in her colors. I quilted it in a similar pattern. Long straight lines require lots of scrolling with my machine but I like the look for these two quilts so much more than an over-all, edge-to-edge design. I think it's a good application for custom quilting.
 
 
Here is another quilt made by Leslie, inspired by Sujata Shah's pattern, Peppermint Pinwheels, in her book, Cultural Fusion. Leslie loves color and it's so fun to have her quilt bright in my studio.
 
 
I use an iPad App called Skitch to draw on a photo on the tablet. I audition some ideas and email or text Leslie for her input. The collaboration is one of the parts I love about longarm quilting for others.
 
 
I also made two mermaid tails and full fin regalia for two little granddaughters. I didn't snap a good picture of them wearing the costumes! Darn! It would have reminded me that, in the end, Avarie and Kenzie are beautiful mermaids and it was worth all the swearing and frustration of working with that slippery, sticky, flimsy, scaly, aggravating never-again fabric. NEVER again! I need to recover by treating myself to some yardage in a line of lovely Moda quilting cotton.
 
Avarie didn't have her mermaid tail on but she certainly had sea tresses made of Spanish moss. We painted shells and made necklaces to complete the ensemble.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Merry Week

 
Christmas lights on the palm trees and almost 80 degrees! Gary and I have spent the last week in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
 
 
A lot of golf has been played with our son, Tanner.
 
 
We've had some great weather for the beach.
 
 
The alligators enjoyed the warm weather also. This big guy swam down the canal just outside the back porch and was spotted by granddaughter, Avarie.
 
 
PopPop had good help peeling shrimp.
 
 
I had lots of help baking cupcakes.
 
 
I think we all had a fun and relaxing visit. Barefoot outside during Christmas week. That's a pretty nice gift.
Merry Christmas! Wishing everyone a wonderful and peaceful holiday.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Christmas Bee Lunch

 
Every year the Sometimes We Do quilt bee gathers for a delicious Christmas lunch.
 
 
This was just some of the appetizers!
 
 
The Christmas tree was trimmed and the decorations and beautiful table set at Susie's house, put us all in the spirit. The champagne (did I spell it right this time, Kira?!) contributed greatly to the mood, too!
 
 
After lunch we exchanged hand-made gifts.
 
 
The gift maker is kept a secret. We all draw a number and the rules of the exchange allow for “stealing” a gift from another or selecting a wrapped package from under the Christmas tree when your turn comes up. Nobody dared to take this wonderful, warm throw, made by Susie, from Karen.
 
 
My gift was a bag. Everyone was shocked– Terry made a bag? I can't quite figure out the surprise.
 
 
1. They think I can't follow pattern directions?
2. They aren't aware of my extensive experience in garment construction?
 
 
3. They don't appreciate my diversity in all things quilty?
As an artiste, I may have mentioned that “Picasso doesn't paint the garage” a few too many times… I think Ginger went home with the bag and that is very gratifying because last year, I received a bag she made, and I like it so much, it was my inspiration.
 
Joan got this cute wall hanging made by Karen.
 
 
I got this adorable pillow and set of mug rugs, made by Joan. We had a fun time snatching and trading gifts, admiring each other's creativity and sharing good food and drink. Quilting friends are really the best. Thanks to all!
 
 
 

 

Just Enjoy the Day

 
It's crazy warm on the east coast! I can't believe I'm on my bike and it's 70 degrees in mid December. I'm humming, “It's beginning to look a lot like……Spring!” I know friends are whining about how we need some snow and it doesn't feel like Christmas. To heck with that!
 
 
I have abandoned quilts that aren't going to get done by Christmas anyway.
 
 
I have deserted sewing projects on Someone's santa list that have to get done by Christmas.
 
 
I've wheedled Gary into putting the golf clubs aside and we drove to Chesapeake City, Maryland, for a bike ride on the C and D canal. Years ago, mules hauled the big ships across the state of Delaware along this canal connecting the Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay. It's amazing to see tankers coming straight toward you.
 
 
The trail is a lovely, wide paved path for almost 17 miles. Ah… This is the hard way. I told him to go up and over the spillway.
 
 
At the midway point, Aqua Sol restaurant is a good lunch stop.
 
That man will grab any excuse for a rest and can sniff out a beer all the way from the trail.
 
 
I have to admit, sitting outside, overlooking the marina in December is special.
 
 
Heading back to the trailhead, the daylight wanes and the afternoon was too short. We ended our ride with a crabcake and glass of wine at Schaffer's canal House.
 
 
The sunset on the drive home was spectacular. Sometimes it's important to chuck all the chaos and stress and “have to do” things on the list and just enjoy the day.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

NYC

 
I planned to show a photo of the beautiful lights or the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center but my camera phone was full. I had to go on a “screaming delete fest” as the Apple geeks call it, to free up space. Sigh. Another bunch of precious moments lost. So this is a shot from the 33 rd floor window of my daughter's apartment in Manhatten.
 
 
I think we all enjoyed “The Book of Morman” but Gary vows to do a little more research on suggested shows next year. Humm…
 
 
We definitely appreciated Michael and Kira treating us to dinner at Mr. K's restaurant. Best Peking duck I've had since visiting Shanghai. Champaign accompanies duck very, very well. Much better than green tea.
 
 
Since Gary had a business meeting, Kira and I got to spend the day together. We took a walk on the Highline Trail. How cool is an elevated Trail! I'd like to walk the length in the spring or summer when everything is in bloom –and the ice cream shops and cafes are open.
 
 
We went to the garment district where I scored some gorgeous silks at Butterfly Fabrics.
 
 
Great salads for lunch at Maison Kayser. Some of those cookies got devoured on the Bolt Bus on the way home. Mostly by Gary…
 
 
We also went to the Lyons Wier Gallery. I've been dying to see the embroidered portraits by Cayce Zavaglia.
This artist is so amazing. From a few steps back, you would swear her work is a painting.
 
 
 
Step closer, and you realize what you thought were brush strokes are actually stitched threads.
 
The backside, or verso, as Zavaglia refers to it, tells another story. Check out this short video to see how the artist creates the portraits. I particularly like that she considers the process as important as the product. As a quilt artist, I identify with that. I do care that my artwork in fabric retains the essence of the quilting process, the precision and needlework, an important element of the image.
 
This country girl learned a lot in the Big City. I figured out how to use Uber– though it couldn't locate my position at first… I bought a ride on the subway– two tickets, actually, because the first one wouldn't work….grrr. I walked about a million city blocks, learned about Mormans, ate some great food, saw amazing artwork, and was reminded how good it is to live in the small village of Kennett Square! Best, by far, I got to spend time with my wonderful daughter.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Plans Awry

The weather here in eastern Pennsylvania has been fantastic. I say, viva El Niño! Gary and I decided to take a long hike at The Laurals Preserve, part of the Brandywine Conservancy. But it was not to be. We were stopped at the locked gate with a sign announcing a controlled deer hunt.
 
 
What to do? Carry on to The Whip!
 
 
Where we could share a pint and drown our disappointment.
 
 
And share an order of the best Welsh rarebit ever. I've been trying to create this recipe at home. I know it is Stilton and aged cheddar cheese and Smithwicks ale and Coleman's mustard. Still working on the right ratios.
 
 
The Whip is a great pub. The food and the beers on tap are an authentic experience and you'd swear you were in Yorkshire. Actually, if you're not local, you can't figure out where you are, if you manage to get here at all. The restaurant is way, way out in the countryside in beautiful Chester County. It's past the buffalo herd and the horse pastures and you need to turn at the Blow Horn intersection– blow your horn because you can't see around the old stone farm house that extends almost into the road. Then just keep going until you get there.
 
Everyone comes to The Whip, workers that finished mucking horse stalls and the gentry that drove over in the Rolls Royce. And hikers whose plans have gone awry, in a good way!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

More Christmas Trees

 
Most people wouldn't choose a dreary, pouring rain day to go find a Christmas tree.
 
 
Neither rain nor sleet nor– whatever all the rest of that stuff is– can deter the Sometimes We Do Quilt Bee from driving down to Don's Tree Farm to kick off the Christmas season. Well, a few of us were unfortunately deterred and we missed you.
 
 
And you missed a great, festive lunch prepared by Peggy. The perfect beef vegetable soup, salad with fantastic dressing (ahem…waitin' on the recipe…) and Apple Pie for desert. Let me repeat, Apple Pie!
 
 
Peggy's house is always decorated so creatively. I forgot to count how many trees she has, in just the house!
 
 
She even decorates the dog.
 
 
This is the 'entry tree' with a little quilt I made and Peggy received in our annual gift exchange. It's nice to remember past projects.
 
 
After lunch we got a tour of the Christmas Shop.
 
 
The front of the shop is filled with all kinds of wonderful fresh arrangements, gifts of all kinds and trains circling a track near the ceiling. I hear that Santa pays a visit, too.
 
 
This year's free ornament with the purchase of a Christmas tree.
 
 
Don, Peggy's husband, helping Andra select the perfect tree.
 
 
Karen trying despretly to resist this cute little one.
 
 
What a great way to spend a rainy day. Thanks, Peggy! I left feeling pretty festive and ready to get back to work, sewing on this year's gift for the party coming up too soon.
 
 
 
 

 

My J.O.B.

 
Seriously, I have the best job ever. It wasn't always so. When I graduated from college and moved East, teaching positions were scarce so I started working for a bank in the marketing department. My friends reading this are dieing laughing– Terry! Numbers! — not possible. But I did spend several years running regression analysis and computing all sorts of statistics and making frantic phone calls to my husband, “How do I find that percentage thing again?” I was deliriously joyful at my exit interview, moving on to become a mother and homemaker.
When I bought my longarm machine, I never entertained the idea of quilting for others. But now I meet such interesting people and they let me quilt their beautiful creations. Tracy and Rich brought me a quilt they made together. Rich had a very specific plan for the quilting and actually mapped it out on paper– I suspect he's an engineer…
 
 
Tracy hand pieced all the 9 patch blocks together over years, intending to make a quilt for their bed. Sewing the blocks together by hand with sashing and borders was daunting, so Rich bought a sewing machine. And taught himself to sew! He's got to be an engineer… The top was really big and tested the very limits of my Gammill's 18 inches of quilting space.
 
That is a whole lot of hot pink backing.
 
Rich specified 16 petal daisies, radiating from a circle in the center, quilted in the blocks. I made a template out of cardboard.
 
 
I knew I couldn't just freehand the whole flower and have it look good. I used a plastic circle template and a straight ruler because Rich wanted the design to be uniform.

 

 
I did freehand the feathers but the borders and 4 patches got more ruler work. So, how do you figure out how to evenly space three quilt lines along 4 long borders? Resort to math and measuring? Noooooo! Marking a length of masking tape and moving it as I go works for me. I'm so not an engineer…
 
Tracy and Rich decided they really wanted their quilt “bed ready” so I squared the top, and bound the quilt for them. Those monster T squares are for carpet laying– sorta “borrowed” from Gary.
 
 
The solid pink fabric with the blue quilting thread really shows off the design on the back.
 
 
It was hard to get a good picture of this beautiful quilt. I miss all those bright colors in my studio.
 
 
Rich texted me in route to pick up the quilt. “Don't be alarmed–I'm coming on my Harley” I meet such interesting people! And quilt such lovely creations! Maybe I can't really call this a J.O.B.