Ice, Ice Baby

I said I wasn't going to post another snow photo.


Do ice storm photos count? We have half an inch of ice coating everything and no sunshine to make it all sparkle and shine. That's not fair!
I'm scheduled to teach a workshop all day and then lecture tonight to the Annapolis Quilt Guild, but the schools are closed and that means the Guild cancels the program. I've been having late night and early morning conversations with Helen, from the Guild, discussing possible scenarios. I felt about 20 years younger! Back to the days of little kids in school and phone chains. I'm disappointed. It would have been fun to sew on this gray, frigid day at the workshop with the Annapolis quilters. Ah well, much better to be safe.
And sew at home today.


Throwing in the Towel

Remember this quilt from yesterday? WHAT A CHALLENGE. I wanted to use Superior Threads Bottom Line to stitch-in-the-ditch up and down the piano key border. Nothing I could do would keep the thread from shredding and breaking. I’ve used it before with no issues. I spent hours switching out needles, re threading, trying to get the tension right. It would stitch an inch and break the thread. Aaaarrrgh. I finely “threw in the towel” used Omni thread and had no problem. Until I started quilting straight lines in the dark area and hit my ruler with the needle! Wow! Scared the life outa me! The machine went crazy, stitching away. The screen went blank and I couldn’t turn it off. Finely gathered my wits and pulled the plug. I figured I was in for an expensive service call but when I plugged it back in, it booted right up and stitched just fine. Whew.


Speaking of towels, I went to swim laps at the YMCA pool this morning and crossing the parking lot, I realized I forgot my towel. I stopped in my tracks, deliberating– at 7 degrees, not considering the wind chill factor, mind you. What to do? A) Skip the swim and go to Starbucks. B) Drive home and get a friggin towel. C) Use what ya got.


I really wanted to swim so I chose option C. Since I was wearing a long sleeve shirt and a light fleece, I figured I’d use one of those as a towel after the shower. In retrospect, the fleece as towel was a bad choice. If you’ve never tried to dry your dripping wet self with fluffy polyester, I can tell you it is not a satisfying experience. To augment the useless fleece, I crept out to the sink area to grab a fistful of the very tiny, planet saving paper towels. Having no towel to wrap around myself, I had to do this…without a towel. I despise those dispensers that make you wave your hands underneath the sensor and then automatically roll out a few inches of paper, then make you wait a ridiculous amount of time, still waving your hands, for an additional few inches. Lucky for me, there was only one very buff and fit, fully clothed young woman watching me perform this routine.


I managed to pull my clothes on my moist body and finished by using the hair dryer. I didn’t want to run the risk of flash freezing a skim of ice while getting to the car. Of course I had to stand near the wall where the hair dryers plug in and I did get some looks. I could see them thinking, what the hell is she doing using a hair dryer on her…um, legs? I had a plan to say, “You didn’t know you can lose an extra pound with a hair dryer after your workout?” Thankfully everyone was too polite to ask because this would have backfired tomorrow when all the dang hair dryers would be in use and I’d have to wait for one.


It’s been a day. I’m having a glass of wine.




I have a theme going here. I just booked the last cabin at Lewis Mountain in Shenandoah National Park for a hike in May with Laura. There are only 30 cabins at Lewis campground so they get reserved early. Laura has already hiked all of the Appalachian Trail in Shendoah but it's such an enjoyable part of the Trail she's going to hike it again with me. COME ON MAY!
So while I'm day dreaming of seeing budding trees, new fauns and foraging bears (oh my!) I'm going to quilt this log cabin top I've had for quite a while. The quilt is from Judy Martin's “Log Cabin Quilt Book.”
I made several of the quilts in this book and I still love to make traditional log cabin quilts. I took a look at Judy Martin's website for quilting design ideas. Wow! She is selling lots of quilts and quilt tops from her book. She's using the Priceline method of marketing–”Make Me an Offer.” Wouldn't it be cool to own a quilt made by Judy Martin!
These are 4 of the blocks I worked on in Florida. The pattern is from Bonnie Hunter and I'm using only fabric from my stash. I think the blocks will be perfect in a log cabin setting. I'm longing to work on these but it's such a perfect project for a sewing get-a-way that I have boxed up everything, ready to go when needed.
I planned on ending this post with a witty quip about having cabin fever but since it is about 5 degrees outside and I'm thinking of Laura in Massachusetts buried under 9 feet of snow…I just can't do it. Sigh. COME ON MAY! I'll even settle for March if it warms up.


Longing for Spring

Not another snow picture! I couldn't resist the six deer in my back yard. I'm sure they're even more anxious for Spring than I am. But this is the last snow photo because I have decided it's our last snow storm.
Perfect weather to stay inside and quilt. I can't decide if working on trilliums makes my longing for Spring better or worse.
It's a little tricky deciding on how many flowers to add to my canvas. I don't want too many to cover my pretty background blocks and stitching. The students in my Quilting in Layers classes always ask if I plan this out before I choose the blocks. Sometimes I do sketch out my composition, if it is going to be a very detailed quilt. Lots of times, with fused appliqué, I just let the wild flowers bloom where they will, deciding one at a time on my design wall.
I have fused WonderUnder to the fabric, removed the backing paper and cut out the pieces so that all I have to do when I have them positioned, is iron them down, I iron them while on my design wall, being careful not to let the iron touch the fleece covering. Yeah, you can guess what has happened …
I don't like the way the seams are showing under the flowers, especially with the thiner silk fabrics. I have tried fusing different light weight interfacings and have also layered several pieces of the same fabric. White and light pink flowers are challenging under dark backgrounds. I resist adding any other layers because then I lose that nice crisp edge and have to deal with fraying.
Lots of stitching helps to make the seam lines less noticeable.
The quilting makes the flat flowers and foliage come alive. It's my favorite part.
Finished! Now all I need is a title and to make a label. And some soft warm, breezes and sun and color returning to the landscape and chirping birds would be nice.



A Bee of Three

Today it is my turn to host Quilt Bee. Nothing stands in the way of quilters getting together! Not the plow guy failing to show up! Not our snow blower being missing in action! Ok, I admit I had to bribe Gary to get out there in 9 degree cold to shovel. Never underestimate the power of warm chocolate chip cookies!
Only two friends were able to brave the conditions. I'm so glad Karen could come and show this beautiful quilt in progress she is making for her daughter.
She needed help deciding on fabric for the final border. Darn, we agreed none of the fabrics were right. Back to the quilt shops for another option.
I'm really glad Susie came because she brought me this gorgous table runner. I love it and it is perfect for today!


Red Dot

I attended the wine and cheese reception at the Malvern Retreat House Art Show on Friday night. The traffic nearing the venue was so congested I almost didn’t go into the show! I had no idea it was so well attended. You had to park in a remote lot and take a shuttle, which actually worked very well since we were dropped right off at the door. My first step was to secure a glass of Chardonay. I really didn’t know what the protocol was. Were the artists to stand near their own work? I felt a little conspicuous doing that so I decided to go around the back side of the room showing the fiber art, to get the lay of the land.
Someone from my quilt guild immediately came up and started talking to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a red dot on the card next to my quilt. Whoopee! I sold a quilt. I thought it was the one on the right but when I walked closer, it hit me– someone purchased Mayapples…for $9,000.


Oh My Goodness. I was stunned. I am still stunned! Several people asked if I was the artist and I was so speechless I had trouble responding. So much for appearing cool and nonchalant! I did manage to avoid doing a fist pump and jumping up and down. I drank my glass of wine and went into the ladies lounge so I could email my mother to say thank you for all the art lessons she paid for and for teaching me to sew. Then I got another glass of wine!
I talked to lots of folks who were surprised to view quilts on the wall as art. One of the show volunteers told me that Richard Bollinger, a fine artist said he will never think of quilts in the same way again. Thank you to the art show committee for including quilts and fiber art in this prestigious show.
What a roller coaster of emotions– feeling successful as an artist and feeling that I’ve sold a child on the black market! Today I am somewhere in the stratosphere of selling a quilt for $9000 and the hard landing of realizing that Mayapples will not be coming back home with me. I don’t know who bought my quilt and I’m not sure if the art show organizers are allowed to give out that information. Today is the last day of the show and I’m going back to say a last good by. I hope Mayapples brings as much pleasure to its new owner as making it brought to me.





Go Tell It At the Quilt Show


When I was in Houston in October, I was invited to do a 3 minute interview, telling about my quilt, Sweetwater Gap Bloodroot, hanging in the quilt show.


According to Quilt Alliance, Go Tell It! is a project “designed to capture the stories of quilts where quiltmakers and quilt lovers gather. The protocol for Go Tell It! is brief and personal: one person talking about one quilt in front of one video camera for three minutes, recording the most essential and compelling details of the quilt according to the “teller.”


You can tell I was nervous! Behind the camera, lots of people are crowding around to see what’s going on. After the interview, I was asked lots of questions about my quilt. That part was fun! You can find other videos from the International Quilt Festival, on the Quilt Alliance YouTube channel here.



Almost Show Time

Just two more days until the Malvern Retreat House Art Show opens. This year there is a special “show within the show” of fiber art. Fifteen fiber artists were selected to exhibit work along with over 100 juried artists' fine art pieces. Various media include painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry, glasswork, and ceramics.

I will have 5 quilts hanging in the show, including Mayapples, Leaves and three smaller quilts. Artists can also include portfolio pieces displayed in print racks. Usually, portfolio pieces are unframed and are often prints, giclees or other reproductions of original artwork. All my quilts are original and I had to figure out a way to provide support and then wrap and seal them in plastic. Gary, my “staff” of one, was pressed into help.
We stuck the quilts onto card board with double stick tape, wrapped them in plastic and taped it all down on the back.
We used a heat gun to shrink the plastic slightly. I've never done this before but the process worked well and I think the quilts looked professionally prepared.
Ready for art lovers to peruse and hopefully purchase a small quilted wall hanging.
It was quite interesting and fun to be among all the artists checking in their work. I'm excited and honored to be included in this prestigious art show. I can't wait to see all the wonderful art and to attend the artists reception Friday evening. Please come and support Malvern Retreat House and see some wonderful art!


Bird Life on the Beach


It's almost time for our vacation to end. We'll have to head back up north soon. I will miss my daily walk on the beach.
I can't believe how close I can get to this big guy before he ambles slowly into the water. He hangs out in almost the same spot every day, waiting for people fishing, to throw him a bite to eat.
Lovers Key State Park is a wildlife protected area and it's wonderful to watch the ospreys return to their nest with a fish for the young ones.
I like this stretch of beach with the smooth sand and trunks of trees.
Usually the pelicans hang out in the water.
I didn't make this neat sand sculpture. Looks like someone else loves this place as much as I do.



Strippin’ in Florida

What to do in Florida when it's windy and rainy? Sew some quilt blocks, of course. Before I left home, I cut lots of random width strips in light colors and whites and multicolored dark prints, all from my stash.
I am using Bonnie Hunter's method of stitch and flip on squares of phone book paper I cut to 7 and a half inches. I want to make Bonnie's pattern, Blue Sky's from the String Fling book. Her quilt is done in yellows and blues.

Mine will be multi colored lights with lots of white and colorful darks. I think it will work– maybe not as well as Bonnie's colors tho.


I want to make two twin size quilts for new bunk beds for my granddaughters.
I thought I might have a little bit of time in Florida to enjoy some sewing so I decided to bring my little travel machine, a Bernina 215, on the airplane. I've never flown with a sewing machine before so I did a bit of research. For years, I've lusted for a fancy Tutto machine carrying case that you see at the big quilt shows. They're darn expensive but a fellow quilter told me to check for a good deal. I did find the case but I also read some reviews about other case options on some blogs.
Many quilters use a small suitcase like pilots and flight attendants use. The theory is the case rolls on two wheels instead of four and the handle configuration works better. Humm, could use it for clothing or sewing machine–two potential uses for one case. Off to Target I went to check out a cheaper version of the recommended “pilot” case. I found it, bought it for about $80 and packed up the machine very securely.
I happily rolled from the car, onto the jitney, into the terminal and through security. No problems! Then– total and complete aggravation. The blasted case is too wide– by a lot– to roll down the aisle of the plane. Horribly awkward to try and get the thing sideways and bloody heavy to carry it the length of the plane to our seats. Actually, Gary took over and gave up, hoisting it into the first open spot he found, with a few choice words.
All the reviews said, carry on, don't check the machine in luggage. Did they all fly first class with really wide aisles? I'm wondering if Target will take the darn suitcase back.


Short Sleeves

Gary and I have traded sand for snow. It's a beautiful day in South Florida. Kids have had fun making this sand castle on Lovers Key Beach.
It's my birthday so I've decided we need to do something we've never done before.
I've convinced Gary to rent a boat and take me for a cruise. Um…not that really huge yacht behind him. We're from the Prairie State! Better start with something smaller and waaaay less expensive.
After a serious tutorial on how it all works and boating etiquette — actually, the guy said, you can pretty much do whatever you want…
We got the hang of it! This is great!
So much wild life and bird life in the mangroves. I wish I could have gotten a video of the dolphins swimming beside us and flipping out of the water.


You can also motor beside the private homes on the water. I need to win the lottery…
Ending a perfect day with a “sundowner” of champaign on the beach.




A Different Art

My daughter Kira is a fashion model. It's not always a career of glamour and glitz. She has to be pretty adventurous. She once had to jump off a crane, into a swimming pool, wearing a voluminous ball gown. She also ran on a treadmill next to a tiny gold giraffe. Recently, she had paper dresses constructed on her body.
She took pictures of some of the process.
Here she is getting her body spray painted by the make up artist. The paper dress was taped on her body. She said it wasn't all that much fun to remove…
That is quite a dress! Not sure about the dark eye make-up… A counterpoint to the beauty of the woman in the gorgeous gown?
Photographers capturing the stylist's vision.
Would you believe this advertisement is all about the shoes?
Shoes in lots of colors. I wonder how that dress is holding up?
The shoe images were superimposed on the backdrop and Kira, wearing the white paper dresses.
Heck. I wish they would have left off the shoes. All I'm interested in seeing is Kira! And those cool paper dresses. I guess that's the “Mom” point of view.


Not Happening

I really wanted to include this new quilt in the upcoming Malvern Retreat House Art Show. The show isn't until February, but I needed to have my selections uploaded to the inventory list by today.
I don't feel confident that I can complete the quilt because I'll be in Florida for two weeks before the show opens. Deadlines sure come up too fast! I just need a few more days…but I guess that's not possible.


Trillium Glitch

I don't have all my blocks sewn together but I can start thinking about where I want to position my trillium flowers. The blooms and leaves are fairly large and I don't want to go to all the work of sewing a center square on the block if it's going to be hidden under flower appliqué. I want to audition some different greens for the leaves also.
While I'm cogitating about placement and leaf color, I can sew some of the lower block center squares. Aaarrrghh! My sewing machine has other ideas. I swear, my Bernina follows the stock market…up, down, up, down. Yesterday I flew through sewing squares. I have exactly the same set up today and for some inexplicable reason, my thread shreds and breaks every few inches. I am giving this machine a Time Out in a dark closet without a sip of oil. Actually, I suspect I have a warped bobbin case. I'll deal with you later, Missy.
My little sewing buddy Bella, has returned home. Kira came back from Rome and Venice and reclaimed her pet. It has been so cold that Bella hasn't wanted to go outside for her walk. I even caved to putting on her down jacket. She arrived with a truseau of several outfits but I refuse to go there…
Grand dog sitting has additional rewards! Treasures Kira brought us from Italy. I've got to get Gary salivating over recipes for Italian Night and see if I can interest him in cooking me something soon.
This Saturday two special people celebrate birthdays. My mother and my granddaughter, Avarie will be blowing out candles. I found this book for Avarie. OF COURSE! a 5 year old Princess can wear hiking boots and I sure hope she wants to. She's already gone for a short walk on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia and she can almost see McAfee Knob from her house.
I have to admit to a birthday soon, too. My mom sent me this book. I am so looking forward to reading and being immersed in a good story. Is there anything better than the gift of reading? Thanks Mom! And happy birthday to you!


Color Choices

Color is such a personal choice and many quilters lack confidence in this skill. Color is absolutely my favorite part of quilting. I've always loved color, being smitten by that first box of new, lucious Crayola crayons. When I teach a Quilting in Layers Workshop, I ask a student struggling with color, “How do you like color? Do you like, In Your Face Bold? or do you prefer more subtle, blending colors? Usually there is a preference and we can build on that.
Clearly, I am a “subtle” lover and I strive to make compositions with monochromatic or analogous color plans.
Joen Wolfrom is a color master and I think I have learned as much from her new book as I did from the first edition, many years ago. The examples of color ways illustrated in quilts are fantastic. Joen has a Craftsy class available also.
I got to meet Joen and talk with her in Houston last October. Don't our shirt colors look great together!
I am so honored to have my quilt “After the Ice Storm” on the “Blues” page. Joen uses the phrase “quiet elegance” to describe the quilt. I am trying to achieve the same mood in my quilt under construction. Walking in the woods in early spring, the colors of green and brown are soft and blending and the sky tones are tinged with turquoise. It's very conducive to slipping into a contemplative, reflective frame of mind. It's so special to catch sight of the first trilliums blooming, quietly elegant.
I have the most beautiful piece of silky, light pink fabric for the trilliums. I probably didn't buy enough… But that could be a good thing and force me to use different fabrics in the mix.
I love this “canvas.” I am keeping the size and block configuration the same in these quilts because I am working in a series and I want to learn as much as I can about the composition by limiting some of the design decisions.
I've been reading the blog of an award winning long arm quilter. Her quilting is amazing but I never like her color choices. Often the judges don't care for them either. She shares the comments from the show competitions and is very vocal and opinionated in stating how wrong it is to be judged on color. Really? My favorite ribbon ever won is “Best Use of Color!” This quilter believes quilts should be judged on construction and technique alone. I think it's nothing but sour grapes on her part. Color is the first thing I see, respond to, linger over and savor, and yes, I struggle with color, too.
I cannot even imagine taking the color out of quilt critique!