November and Colors

 
There is something about the beginning of November that I love. I walked through the meadow at Longwood Gardens wondering what the heck it is. It isn't that first taste of winter– we had snow! Oh no, that kick started an urgent search for a few weeks in Florida in January. The blast of frost in the air makes me sorry to say good by to balmy 60's and having to break out the fleece.
 
I think November is beautiful. Maybe I just appreciate the change in the scenery.

 

 
I love the light in November, the long shadows and the stark contrasts. I love the way things seem to slow down, as if taking a breath before the serious attitude and preparations for winter. I always start new projects in late autumn and spring.
 
 
I'm going to make The season last just a little bit longer. I found these beautiful fabrics last weekend in a quilt shop in Lewis, Delaware. The Sometimes We Do Quilt Bee friends spent a long weekend sewing at the beach and we all found treasure at Mare's Bears Quilt Shop. The fabric looks like hand dyes but it is from a collection designed by Elaine Quehl for Northcott. There is also a gorgous stripe that I need to find somewhere. I've been gaga in love with Elaine's art quilts for years and I'm excited to use her fabric.
I know exactly what I am going to make. I've created a new class offering in Quilting in Layers that teaches many ways to have fun with piecing and quilting 4 inch blocks in a grid format. I always have students in class that aren't so in love with appliqué and this class will be all about the pieced blocks and techniques to make them awesome. It will be so cool to use fabrics from one commercial collection. I'm going to have some fun making this class sample!
 
 

 

 

Critique

 
Sweetwater Gap Bloodroot has returned from it's trip to the World of Beauty Quilt Show in Houston. I thought I would share the judge's comments and evaluation. The judging format uses a + for Excellent, a ^ (check mark) for Satisfactory and a – for Needs Improvement. My quilt received predominantly Check marks with a few Pluses for Visual Impact, Original Design, Construction Techniques and Appropriateness of Quilting Design. I received one negative mark for Balance of Design. The only written comments were “Really nice pieced background” and “Faced edge well executed.”
I really wish the Judge had commented on Design Balance because I think of composition as one of my strengths. It is so valuable to have comments and I appreciate the time it takes to articulate and transcribe observations. When I compared my quilt to the others in the category, I felt Bloodroot lacked a “wow” factor. In person, I really like the serene, woodland color scheme but I also feel it lacks contrast in the dark ground and leaves area. I also think my quilt lacks a dominate focal point.
 
 
I think Fugi and Sakura by Masako Sakagami is a beautiful quilt that really fits the category of Art-Naturescapes. I like the coloration in the background, and the reflection of the mountain. I do think the image and the techniques used are somewhat simplistic for a First Place winner.
 
 
An Autumn Flavor by Kiyoko Matsumoto took the second place ribbon. I'm a bit perplexed by this quilt. Looks more like Spring to me than Fall! The workmanship was lovely. The colors did not engage me and the style does not fit my personal aesthetic. I think it is very much in the “quilt” style and not so much an artistic approach. I prefer the flowers and leaves tumble and overlap naturally rather than each one picked out separately, like in a very careful cartoon.
 
 
I absolutely loved this quilt, Wild Rhodies by Pat Durbin . I liked the depth created by the light sky behind the dark tree trunks. The pine needles were thread painted so realistically. The red flowers were shaded and shadowed and a tiny red piping in the binding pulled the design together.
 
Prelude to Winter by Beth Porter Johnson might have gotten my vote for First Place. My photograph doesn't begin to do justice to this amazing quilt. I could not figure out if it was pieced or appliquéd. Maybe both, it was not raw edge fused and there was no paint enhancing the quilt, it was all fabric. The machine quilting was beautiful and added contour and shading to the trees and shadows. I also like that the subject is unusual and creative. I feel the three quilts chosen by the judges for ribbons were safe, predictable and especially the first, an image repeated everywhere.
Just my opinions! I'm not a judge or expert. What I do know for sure is that there is so much to learn. It was fantastic to have my quilt hanging in such a prestigious quilt show. There were 21 quilts in the Art-Naturscapes category and I spent time studying the different styles and techniques. It is important to me to make quilts of my own designs, that please me and come from my heart. I enter competitions to push myself to become better at expressing myself through my art. I really enjoy seeing how other quilters accomplish their own vision. Also, entering quilt shows is thrilling and just darn fun. Especially when you get your quilt back and can't wait to start another one!
 

 

 

Catching Breath

 

 
Christine and I leaving from Baltimore, bound for the Houston Quilt Show. No way that was just a week ago! How can time race by so fast? Our Southwest flight was packed with quilters. Isn't that fun!
 
 
Going to a quilt show really is as much about enjoying time with friends as seeing quilts. One of my Sometimes We Do Quilt Bee friends and her mom are on our flight. Ginger arranged to have her friend Gina, who lives in Houston, pick us up at the airport and take us all to lunch.
 
 
The Grand Lux Cafe is quite like The Cheesecake Factory and the food was delicious.
 
 
Gina, Ginger and Ginger's mom know how to start the party rolling. Christine and I were a little more restrained, but really, we were just pacing ourselves.
 
 
I needed a clear head for the venders!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Break Out Those Boots!

 
If I had a pair of cowboy boots, they would be packed in my suitcase because I am Houston, Texas bound! I would love to grab a long neck and join in the Texas Two Step, but I don't think there will be much of that kind of fun at the IQA Quilts: A World of Beauty show.
I will get to see my quilt, Sweetwater Gap Bloodroot, hanging in the competition in the Art Quilt Landscape category.
 
I know that I haven't won a ribbon this time but I am anxious to see how Bloodroot measures up against the competition. The Houston Show is the largest quilt show in the world and I am absolutely thrilled to have my quilt accepted. I know Christine and I are going to have a blast and we both are committed to doing some serious shopping in the vender mall.
YeeHaw!
 
 

 

Brandywine Day

 
I've been quiet lately. Not because I've been in some exotic place without Internet. I have been working away in my studio on several quilts but I can't show anything because they are for gifts! But today I took a break. It is such a gorgous fall day, it's time to kayak down the Brandywine River.
 
 
It's so wonderfully peaceful on the river.
 
 
There is one spot where we have to pull the kayaks out to carry them over an old dam. It's actually on property belonging to the Wyeth family.
 
 
 
It's easy for me to imagine Andrew Wyeth painting the sycamore trees that line the banks of the Brandywine.
 
 
Gary scouts the rocks we need to avoid.
 
 
And I spot two bald eagles riding the thermals.
 
 
I wish I could have gotten a better picture. They are such huge, majestic birds. I watched them for a while, realizing I've seen eagles twice this year, including the family of three I saw in Maine. How amazing.
 
 
I love the Brandywine River and the beautiful Wyeth country of Chester County. I made this small quilt years ago. It is about seeing the leaves of autumn through the water on the river bottom and the rings and sparkling trails my paddles leave on the surface after each stroke. It's hanging in my foyer now.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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