Monday, October 31, 2011

Oops! and Must-Do Projects

Well, I guess I'd better be careful about what I write!  That blog about the beauties of an October snowfall and how it wouldn't last?  BIG mistake!  Please accept my apologies (Nancy's laughing again!).

This weekend I spent a lot of time organizing my projects and trying to clear out some old magazines.  Actually I did pretty well.  I find that quilts that I thought were wonderful and worthy of making 4 -5 years ago don't appeal any more.  I still like traditional quilts and intend to make many of them (I'd better given the size of my stash!), but the big block, easy quilts just don't call to me.  After making all of the Farmer's Wife blocks, my taste has turned to slightly more intricate work.

Anyway, I've spent the last two days cutting out various and sundry smaller projects for the holiday gift-giving.  I am determined to get these things made before I turn to projects that are calling my name.  If I don't do it this way, those gifts will join the UFOs languishing in a heap somewhere.  

Do you have the same issue?  Projects you want to do but a pile of "have to do's" sitting smack dab in their way?  Let's agree that we will clear the deck by sewing the gift items (or whatever else is on your "must do" list) starting today.  Face it, it isn't so much that we don't want to do them, they just don't have the same pull because they usually aren't to our taste.  Let's get them finished as quickly as possible.  We'll feel much better and will be able to go on to our fun projects with a sense of well-being and pride.

Friday, October 28, 2011

October Snow

In may seem strange, but I have a certain fondness for October snow (as long as it doesn't last or inconvenience anyone).  When I was doing my student teaching, we had a bad October snow that closed school, downed power lines, shut down major highways, and generally wreaked havoc in this area. 

Once I had finished lesson plans and homework for the coming week, I could relax.  It meant that for three days, I was home with my family.   We played games, read by the light of flashlights, cooked soup and heated water on our wood burning stove, and went for walks to admire the beauty of the snow when we could.  I was able to sleep at night for eight hours without school work or thoughts intruding. 

That time together was very precious.  If you know anyone who has student taught or if you are a teacher, you know what it is like.  The job is all consuming and is in your mind every waking minute.  To be given a chance to let that school section of your thoughts sit quietly in a closed room in your mind so you can give you 100% attention to your family is rare. 

So, yes, I do have a fondness for the beauty of an October snow.  In my experience, it doesn't last. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Big Mouse in the House

Tuesday I promised to show you another photo of the gifts our Secret Pumpkin included in that goodie bag.  Yesterday I was busy with a myriad of household chores and didn't get around to photography or writing. 

Today when I got my camera out, I started looking for the Halloween bag.  Looked where I had left it, looked behind various pieces of furniture, looked in closets - no luck!  Of course, I figured I had put it away so carefully (so I wouldn't forget where it was) that I could no longer find it.  That happens more often than I care to admit.  Finally, I saw the bag, the empty bag, very carefully and neatly folded with our other recycle, reuse, re-purpose bags.  A clue!  Next stop the refrigerator.  Top shelf?  Yes.  Dairy drawer?  Yes!  On to the pantry (still very tidy!).  Cracker basket on the top?  Yes, again.

The Otter Creek beer was down to 5 bottles, the cheddar cheese was missing a bite sized piece, and the flatbrot crackers were opened.  Now you know what the Pumpkin left for us and what I planned to photograph for you to see.  But the contents of the bag have been dispersed.  And now I know what happened.

There's a very big mouse in my house . . . guess who! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Arrival of the Secret Pumpkin

Last Friday David was away at the Middle School Conference in Saratoga, and I was busy doing a number of things in and around the house.  If you remember, I wrote about changing summer clothes for winter ones which entailed numerous trips up and down stairs (Nancy was grinning! her temperature was in the 70's and sunny.  Ah, Florida . . . ).  Despite that one would think that I would still be aware of any strange occurrences, right? 

However, this is the season of magic and mystery.  Leaves swirl in intriguing patterns, birds swoop overhead, woodland creatures prowl, and when you least expect it, the Secret Pumpkin pays a visit.  At some point on Friday, the mysterious Pumpkin left a Halloween treat on our front porch!

Today, I am wondering who could be the S.P.'s messenger?  I have my suspicions . . . a neighbor?  One nearby?  One who shares the common bond of the classroom?  My investigations are not yet complete.

Tomorrow I will show you what was in the bag, and what I have discovered.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Special Interest Groups

Do you belong to a special interest group?  Do you meet to discuss books, politics, cooking, movies, or a craft?  There are so many now, and I never considered joining such a group when I was working and raising our daughter.  Most people I knew at that time were too busy.  I hope it's not like that for you.

Yesterday, one of the groups to which I belong met at my house.  We started out as a small group that met for breakfast at a local diner every Sunday.  I don't even remember how it changed into a group that meets once a month (when we can) to sew, knit, work on scrapbooks, or just chat.  And there's a lot of that - chatting, I mean!  Laughter, too. 

Yesterday the plan was to meet and make a wonderful pincushion designed by Mardi (one of our group who if you don't know her is incredibly creative and talented!).  Naturally, being who we are, none of us was ready to really work on it, but Mardi did manage to hold our attention long enough for us to know now how to make this wonderful pincushion.  It involves making some small quilt blocks (3"), and I simply didn't get around to doing it.  But this week it's on my list!

Karen and her daughter Julie were here, also.  Karen's life is very complicated right now, and Julie is planning her weddings.  Yes, that was a plural!  She is getting married in early December in Scotland and then she and her husband will have another ceremony here with her family and friends in attendance.  Talk about busy!  We all felt lucky to have them with us yesterday.  

Mary Ellen was here, too, and of us all, she was the one who was actually prepared to make her pincushion.  She has been working on hand sewing tiny (less than one inch) hexagons in a Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern.  She's at a point where she has sewn about 12 together, and the resulting placemat-sized piece is amazing!   I wish I had taken a picture of it. 

And the last member who was there is the other Noel (yes, there are two of us!).  Noel had her laptop with her and was able to share the scrapbook she has made about her anniversary trip with her husband.  It is just wonderful.  Now I'm really eager to see it in book form so I can spend time looking at her photos.  While at one of our meetings, Noel usually works on counted-cross stitch because it's too difficult to lug all her scrapbooking materials with her. 

I spent my time knitting on a Christmas project. 

I've mentioned all this because this group is such an important part of my life.  A lot has been written about women and their friendship groups, but I never realized how much fun it is to meet with like-minded people with no must-do ultimate goal.  When I was working, one went to many meetings and if one was lucky there might have been a friend at the meeting.  But it was always a meeting with a goal - something we had to accomplish, a problem to solve, or information to share.  You know.  Now my meetings have no critical importance to anyone but me and my friends.  We might have a plan to do something, but it's always something we want to do.  For fun, for each other, for no special reason. 

So I guess you could say that I am lucky enough to belong to a For-No-Special-Reason Interest Group! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Fall Chore Completed

When do you switch your summer clothes for your winter ones, or are you like my sister-in-law, Nancy, who lives in Florida and doesn't have to play the switching game?  My usual dates, though obviously not etched in stone, are Columbus Day and David's birthday (mid-April).

So I missed Columbus Day, but I started lackadaisically around then!  That should count.  Oh well, I just finished carrying down the "on hangers" things that are stored on a rack in the basement.  My tops are now stored in their plastic bin.  Most of my fall/winter clothes have made it up to my closet, but there are still some slacks that need to be brought up.  Since they are dressier, they can wait.

Here's the advantage to living in a two-story house with a basement.  It may be minimal and sporadic, but I do get some exercise!  Pointing that out makes me feel noble.  So does finally getting my clothes switched. 

Okay, Nancy, stop grinning!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Troubles On Line

Today several of you managed to get in touch with me to ask what was going on with the McCall's site.  It was even more frustrating as the site would be up and then down.  It was quite a seesaw, and I had no answer for you until later this evening when I received the following:

Dear Quilt Design Star finalists,

As some of you already know, voting for Quilt Design Star has not been available today. Our third-party contest tool, Upickem, is suffering from an unprecedented malicious attack, resulting in their web servers being brought down through sheer request volume. No loss of contest data will be experienced, and no other information has been stolen, lost or damaged. The attack simply affects the availability of the website server. 

While we do not have a time frame as to how soon the servers will again be accessible, we do know that Upickem is working diligently to resolve this emergency. 


Valerie is McCall's webmaster, and so I guess all we can do is relax and wait for Upickem to fix the problem.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Here It Is!

Okay, they surprised me with the early posting today.  On the left-hand side of this blog, you will see the miniaturized version of my latest quilt.  By clicking on that, you will be taken to the correct site for voting AND for leaving a comment.  Both are important although definitely the vote outranks the comment.  Whether the judges read the comments, I don't know, but I like to think they do.  After all, one of the purposes of this contest is to find a quilt to feature in their magazine.  They're looking for the one quilt in this group that other quilters would like to make.

You know how much I appreciate your support and your kind words.  Please continue by voting once per day per computer!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Voting Tomorrow

Today is the final day for contestants to get their quilts to McCall's.  All quilts must be there by 5:00 Mountain Time.  I'd be surprised if there were any that weren't there already! 

Once there the quilts are to be professionally photographed by McCall's, and the photographs we sent with our submission form replaced.  In their original information/guidelines sheet, McCall's said the switch in photos may take a bit of time depending on when the quilts arrived.  If all of them came in at or around the same time, I can imagine the photographers would not be able to get them all done to their liking by tomorrow. 

Again, according to earlier information, tomorrow is the day the quilts will be on-line and ready for voting!  Due to the time difference, I imagine that won't be until afternoon here in the east.  As soon as I can, I will make it possible for you to vote from this blog (I have to wait for the widget which will be on the page with my quilt).

Here's my prediction.  You are going to see some amazing quilts tomorrow!  The songs will be very varied, possibly surprising, and the contestants' interpretations will be fun to see.  There will be only twelve quilts, and they will all be completely finished.  That means they will be both quilted and bound and will look like works of art. 

I am looking forward to seeing what everyone has done; it will be a enjoyable show!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Second - the Photograph

And now the photograph.  Taken by Brian Sherman, as I understand it this photograph will not be the one you see on McCall's site.  When the quilts arrived at McCall's, they were professionally photographed by their photographers for this final viewing.  It's only fair because not everyone is either a good photographer or knows a gifted photographer like Brian.

First - the Story

Just in case you don't know, Challenge 3 was to choose an easily recognizable, popular song and interpret the lyrics.  Since I have had official confirmation that my responses, the photo of the quilt, and the quilt itself have been received, I feel I can post this. 

The following are McCall's prompts/questions and my answers.

How did you choose which song to use?  At first I was flummoxed.  What easily recognizable, popular song did I know?  I grew up with classical music including opera.  Surely an aria would not do.  I thought and discarded Gilbert and Sullivan operettas as no longer easily recognizable, but at least that put me on the right track - musicals.  Having wanted to create a night scene for some time, the choice of "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera became the solution.  The specific lyrics I used were, "Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams!  Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before! Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar and you'll live as you've never lived before.  Softly, deftly, music shall caress you.  Hear it, feel it, secretly possess you.  Open your mind, let your fantasy unwind in . . . the darkness of the music of the night."  The music accompanying these lyrics appears in the blocks at the top and bottom of my quilt.

In this interpretation of those lyrics, a grandmother has her grandchildren visiting while their parents are away.  The children's mother has told her that the children seem fearful of nighttime.  During the week they've been staying with her, their grandmother has been able to coax them to leave the safety of the lit porch to chase and catch fireflies.  The night depicted in my quilt shows the grandmother, with a quilt wrapped around her against the chill, successfully drawing them to her pond to see the wonders and the beauties of the night.  The granddaughter still clings to her, but she is reaching to the wheeling dragonflies.  The boy, with adolescent bravery, is sitting with his back to his family (although still touching his sister) and is releasing his fireflies.  The grandmother is trying to teach them that fear can paralyze you if you let it, but if you "open your mind, let your fantasy unwind," face the menace in the night, and look for beauty, you can conquer at least some of your terror.  While the menace is still there (the owl as the phantom but also wisdom, dragonflies with their scary names, a dark pond, looming trees, falling stars, and even the unusual golden harvest moon), the phantasmagorical night sky is alight with beauty.

What was the most difficult part of this Challenge?  I knew exactly what kind of design I wanted to make but also knew it would look overwhelming and difficult to beginner and possibly even to intermediate quilters.  So my challenge was to create an elaborate night scene in the simplest possible way.  Instead of using bias strips for my "cosmic swirls", I used easily manipulated ribbon and cord.  Instead of hand embroidery, I used the wonderful stitches available on my sewing machine almost exclusively.  Instead of hand appliqué, again I used a machine stitch for all the raw edge appliqué on this quilt.  Stars and their points can be scary, but the ones on my quilt are cut out as one-piece, raw-edge stars and applied with a machine stitch.  Quilters would have the option of replacing the open hands with extended fingers on my quilt with a closed-fingered hand.  The owl is fussy but simple.  His many parts are constructed with ease using 2-sided fusible material.  My trapunto method is also simpler than the traditional one.

What most the enjoyable part of this Challenge?  The help and support of my family and friends, listening to Samuel Ramey singing "Music of the Night" over and over, and watching my ideas come to life in my quilt! 

Tomorrow, the photo.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Are you fed up with the number of catalogs you receive?  A few evenings ago, there was a segment on the news regarding the postal service's attempt to make business for itself (I wish I could remember the number of personal first class mail items an individual receives; it's amazingly few).  While I appreciate their struggle to remain a viable business, I don't want to add to the unnecessary use of tree pulp, my recycling responsibilities, or my temptation to spend money.

Here's what I've been doing (and should have done years ago, I suppose).  Before recycling those pesky catalogs, I rip off the back page which has my address and customer information on it.  The catalog goes on the recycle pile with the newspapers, and the back page goes in a folder.  In order to take myself off the mailing list for a specific company, I set aside a specific amount of time I'm willing to spend a day or a specific number of catalogs.  Making myself comfortable, with my folder and pen in hand, I call the phone number on the back page.  Companies vary, of course, and sometimes I get a person immediately, sometimes I have to choose from a list (it's usually customer service but once I was shunted to a line specifically for removable from catalog mailings), but only once have I had to deal with a machine. 

Remembering to be cheerful and polite, I ask to be removed from their list and give them the information they ask for.  Sometimes all they need is the customer service number on the back of the catalog, but sometimes they need name and address.  Once they have all the information they need, they'll tell me that I may still receive a few catalogs that are already in the works but that then I will be off their list.  I mark that I called on the back page, note the date (in case I receive too many "in the works" catalogs!), and file the page alphabetically by company name.

I've also learned to ask if they handle any other catalogs than the specific one I'm calling because sometimes I think I've talked to a catalog distribution company.  If I ask, they'll tell me.  Usually I recognize the names of catalogs I receive even if I don't have their page in my folder so I ask to be removed from those lists as well.  I make a note of that on the original back page so I have a record.

So far I've been removed from the list for 17 catalogs, and I'm not finished yet.  That's a lot of wasted paper and a lot of temptation.  But wouldn't you know it?  Today I received a new catalog!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day ? of Challenge 3

The blog postings will be sparse for a day or three as I am in the final stages of preparing my quilt for shipping to Colorado.  This time I was allowed to have others work on the quilt (as long as the design was completely mine) so I don't feel I will be transgressing by letting you see the work I have done.  Once I have uploaded the story and the quilt photo, I will post both on my blog. 

Until then, I'll be a bit busy. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Jobs Jar

Okay, you probably all winced when you saw the title of today's blog.  But this kind of Jobs Jar is different, and you might even like it.  I do.  Or at least I like the idea of it.  While I finished setting it up yesterday, I haven't actually used it yet.

Let me explain.  David went to New Jersey for a bonsai meeting, and I took the time to do some housework that had been hanging fire (anyone know where that expression comes from?) for a long time.  Earlier I had cleaned the top of our antique 2-door cupboard pantry and tidied the items that had to stay there.  Then D decided to build a new shelf for it.  One side always had shelves where we keep canned goods, etc.  The other side was more of a closet, and we used it for brooms and such.  Okay, the "such" was actually whatever had to be put somewhere to get it out of the way.  Very convenient, very messy.  D managed to build a shelf without attaching it to the cupboard (which would have been bad to do to an antique - of course, we already diminished its value when we were young know-nothings by removed the uuuugly milk paint).  Then he put all of our cleaning supplies in it.  Tres organized and neat.

Sunday, not to be outdone, I took everything out of the side that always had shelves, cleaned the shelves and tops of cans and re-shelved everything in a tidy, logical way.  This pantry is now a thing of beauty inside and out.

Lest you be cringing already, the above chores with the pantry do not qualify for my Jobs Jar.  Nor does the laundry, bread and cake baking, or any of the other chores I did.  Get it?  What I did yesterday were chores, and I don't like the idea of a jar containing chores that I'd have to do (clean out the garage, sweep behind the washer and drier and water heater in the basement, pick up all the pens, pencils and assorted lost items under the sofa, for example). 

No, my jar contains slips of paper with quilting or other crafty UFO's (UnFinished Objects) and quilting/crafty projects for which I bought the fabric or whatever but haven't had time to start.  Here's how it works.  D will reach in and pull out TWO slips of paper which he hands to me without reading them (some specify gifts I want to make).  I'm allowed to read both, and then I choose the one I want to do. 

By calling it a Jobs Jar, I have the sense that when the job is finished, I will be rewarded - not with money, but with a sense of accomplishment.  By drawing two slips out of the jar, I am allowing myself a choice - what we used to call a "psych out".  D helps by selected two pieces of paper so he knows I'm working on UFO's and my stash.

Until my final Challenge is completed, I won't get the Jobs Jar out, but at least it's set up for me.  

What do you think of the idea? 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Halloween Flowers

A few days ago when the sun was shining brightly, I wandered out to our garden to cut some more Autumn sedum and some Montauk daisies (the roses from earlier had all dropped their petals) for the house.  Since it was such a nice day, I poked around to see what was going on in the garden. 

When I saw these, I thought, "Oh wow, black flowers.  How cool!"  So thinking they's be perfect for this Halloween season, I cut all I could find and brought them inside.  Aren't they interesting in our camp coffee pot?

I know, I know, it's difficult to tell in this photo.  The flowers are really too small and there are too few of them for the coffee pot, but I liked the contrast of colors.  I don't have any other "vase-y" item that would suit both them and my Halloween theme.

Dried Black-Eyed Susans

Does this photo help?  Yes, they really are black.  Can you guess what they are?  

After the petals have fallen off, this is what is left - the "eye", or center seed making part, of Black-Eyed Susans!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quick News Flash

Today's entry will be short.  Yesterday Karen Gibbs e-mailed me around 11:00 A.M. to let me know the quilting is finished.  Wow, didn't I tell you she's amazing?  She went on to say that she's going today to deliver it to Barbara Wolfe who is going to do the binding for me.  Everything is going well and the schedule is on track. 

Today, I am going to review my plans for embellishments and see if there is anything I need to change or to purchase and take care of that over the weekend.   

I'm back to being unable to sit still or pay attention to anything for very long!  Keep your fingers crossed that all continues to go as it should.

Friday, October 7, 2011

More on "Food for Thought"

When I wrote the first entry on the Fenimore Museum's "Food for Thought", there was more I wanted to say, but that entry was getting long.  Today I want to conclude with one more thing that Jacqueline Atkins said that is very important to me.

She was talking about one of the categories of quilts, one which I briefly mentioned in yesterday's blog.  The category is Community, and I gave Autograph quilts as one of her examples.  She was talking about how we make quilts to say "Good-bye. Please remember me."  We make prayer quilts, charity quilts, wedding quilts, baby quilts.  There are "Welcome to our neighborhood" quilts, quilts to raise awareness, quilts for soldiers, quilts to lift the spirits, and more.  The sense of community it in the group who work on the quilt and in the quilt itself. 

Interestingly enough, Jacqueline Atkins began her discussion with the notion of quilters-as-community, and she said "I've never met a quilter I didn't like."  While that is a lovely sentiment, we are all people and respond to each other like any other group of people.  However, as with any group, if one determines to look for  positive attributes in those one meets, the likelihood of meeting a kindred soul is more likely than if one looks for the negative.  That's only common sense. 

However, she also meant that if you are suddenly plunked down on a bench in a completely foreign place, Manitoba or Kyoto, for example, you can take out a quilt block to work on or even just to look at.  In a very short time, one or more people will stop and some kind of conversation will begin.  If you don't speak the same language, a means of communicating will be found.  Think about the times you have gone by yourself to a new guild or a quilt retreat or quilt class.  You probably came home with the name of  at least one person you'd be happy to see again. 

That happened to me at yesterday's program.  As I told you, I went with a friend. We were among the last to find seats for lunch and weren't able to sit together.  The ladies on my right and left were chatting so I leaned forward and asked the lady across from me if she were a quilter.  That started a conversation with her and with her friend.  Next I turned to the lady on my right and repeated the question.  For a short time, I was talking with her and the two ladies on the other side of the table.  Once in line for the buffet, I started talking to the lady behind me and that continued until we took our lunch back to the table.  During the meal, it was harder to converse, but I did manage to chat with the lady to my left and that drew in her friend seated across from her. 

Let's see, I'm up to  six interesting women already.  I learned about the quilt show in Cooperstown and a bit about their guild.  We discussed this weekend's show at the Major's Inn in Gilbertsville.  The Oneonta Guild was the topic of another conversation.  I even ventured information about the McCall's Contest and what it has done for me.  By the end of lunch, I had exchanged e-mail and snail mail addresses and even the address of this blog!  Today, I received the nicest e-mail from one of those women.  She was most complimentary about what she had seen of my work on this blog and talked about how much she enjoyed yesterday.  She wished me well.

For all I know, my style of quilt might be anathema to her, but it didn't matter to her.  We belong to the same community.  And even though we may never have met, if you are reading this blog, you belong to that community, too.   

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Food for Thought"

Yesterday was such glorious weather, wasn't it?  It was good to be out in it.  My friend and colleague from my teaching days invited me to join her at the Fennimore House in Cooperstown for one of their "Food for Thought" programs, and I gladly accepted as their programs are always good.  Even if it had not been, the ride to Cooperstown was worth it!

But, as always, the lunchtime lecture was worth every minute.  Yesterday's topic was "Unfolding Stories: Culture and Tradition in American Quilts"  (great title!).  Jacqueline M Atkins* was the speaker, and I really liked the way she framed her talk.  She talked about quilts in relation to the cultural climate and the social climate of their times.

For example, early quilts in the exhibit have patterns with which we are familiar and use in our own "patchwork" quilts.  Such patterns, as we know, were often a result of what was happening in the country (Bear Paw, 54 - 40 or Fight, Clay's Choice, etc.) and were made by women who were actively involved in the running of the household.  In other words, they were lucky to have time to stitch on the quilt blocks by firelight at the end of a tiring day.  Those were primarily utilitarian quilts though no less beautiful. 

At the same time, narrative quilts were being made by women who had help in their homes.  Those quilts tell a story and reflected the world seen by more eduacted and affluent women.  Atkins also talked about Baltimore Album quilts - now those took time!  Those were quilts made by women who had help doing virtually all of the household chores, women who had the money to devote to the purchase of templates/patterns developed to show interests of the day.  She pointed out that people of that time (1820 - 1840) were very patriotic - hence all the flags and eagles. 

Atkins discussed patterns and their variations (1850's - 1870's).  Just think of all the star patterns and the numerous variations of the log cabin pattern (she showed slides of some wonderful Gee's Bend quilts - no quilt police there!).  Crazy quilts represented the "conspicuous consumption" of the late 1800's.  America was in an economic boom time, and more women lived in homes that had money to spare.  They decorated every surface and the decorations were embellished to the nth degree. 

There were other themes, like community (think autograph quilts), whole piece quilts (Hawaiian), but you get the picture.  Was it new?  No, but put in context of the exhibition, being able to look at the quilts made me understand those themes better.  It deepened my understanding.

Now remember, the discussion of quilts was limited to the ones in the exhibit which were chosen specifically because they were examples of the above themes.  Nothing was said about the advent of the sewing machine or aniline dyes or advances in communication.  Nothing was said about the advances made in the production of cotton cloth.  After all, there wasn't time to mention everything. 

But little things like the discussion of Hawaiian quilts with their whole piece motif being related to the art of Scherenschnitte (paper cutting - think of the snowflakes we all cut out as children) taught by missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands was new and eye-opening to me.  It gave me a new appreciation of facets of the art of quilting.  For that alone it would have been worth it.  But there was also the joy of looking closely at some remarkable examples of our quilting heritage.

The show is worth seeing, and if you have the time, there is a quilt show in Gilbertsville at the Major's Inn.

*"Dr. Jacqueline M. Atkins, a textile historian, is the Kate Fowler Merle-Smith Consulting Curator of Textiles for the Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA. She lectures and writes on American and Japanese textile and costume history, and her research on these textiles is an outgrowth of her work on the wartime textiles of Japan, Britain and the United States . . . " Quilt Study Group

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Roses and a Visitor

Now isn't that a feast for the eyes!  These are my last roses (picked yesterday) and my autumn sedum.  It was such a treat to be able to wander out to the garden without thinking that I should be at the sewing machine.  These colors were such a happy mix that I thought I'd really compound the fun by placing the vase on a rose-themed antique hooked wool runner.  I love having little vignettes like this around my house; they make me smile.

But the biggest surprise and pleasure came as I was washing lettuce leaves for lunch.  From my kitchen sink I can see our back yard and there lying on our lawn was an animal blissfully scratching its ear.  It was tawny in color and of moderate size. 

"What's in our back yard?" I asked David.  Since he was sitting at the kitchen table with his back to the window which was giving me my view, he didn't know what I was talking about.  "Is it a fawn?  No, I know.  It must be our neighbors dog."

At that very moment, the animal stood up and trotted lazily behind our fence.  After bemoaning the loss of wildlife and the paucity of bird varieties in our region of New York, that animal came to show me there are still some wild creatures near by.  Of course, I didn't have my camera so I can't show you a photo.    But it was a thrill.

Mr. Reynard came to call.  It was a red fox!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 21 of Challenge 3

Yeah, I can stretch and jump up and down and dance a jig because the quilt and its backing are finished!!!  Tomorrow I take it up to Karen Gibbs, quilter extraordinaire, and then all the major work is done in plenty of time. 

The mailing has me flummoxed, I confess.  How does one mail a 64" X 48" quilt?  Tomorrow I'm going to e-mail the contact at McCall's and see if she has any suggestions based on what others do.  Part of the problem is that there are parts of the quilt that I really don't want to be crushed because of the packing, but oh well, they'll just have to take that into account when they look at all the quilts.

Yesterday I made the block that is my label as you can see on the left.  Mary Ellen found this block in the Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazine (volume 2 - Winter 2010), and she pointed it out to me because its name is - wait for it - Payton's Star!  Isn't that a cool thing?  

Now you know that it wasn't named for the Payton family.  Anyway, I contacted Sharyn Craig who designed this block, explained what I am involved in, and asked her if I could incorporate this block in one of my challenge quilts.  What a nice person she is!  She immediately responded and told me that the block is named for her granddaughter who helped her choose the colors for her version.  Isn't that perfect?  She went on to say that if it would be appropriate, I have her permission to use this block.

As you will see later (after it's quilted), this block would not work for this challenge, but I decided to use it as my label.  Notice that the colors and batiks I chose make it possible to give credit to everyone who has worked on this quilt.  Because they are such a tight weave, batiks are easy to write on and the ink doesn't spread.  I did test both fabrics first, of course, before I actually used them.  This time I didn't spend time making my handwriting really special; it is what it is.  I just wanted it to be finished!

I don't know if you can see the credits in the lavender bars, but Pat Cunningham's (hand applique) is in the upper left.  Two of the others are for Karen Gibbs (quilting), the woman who is going to bind it for me (name yet to come), and Sharyn Craig (label block designer).  To me, one of the most important things we quilters can and should do is acknowledge the contribution of others to our work.  I have always felt that the quilter and quilt piecer collaborate in creating a finished product (or at least it should be a collaboration).  Why would we not thank them and give them credit? 

You do all make labels, right?