Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Somehow last night came and went without a blog entry.  For that I apologize; it surprised even me when I realized it this morning.  However, it does tell me that I need to take a holiday break as, like every one of you, too much is happening and is going to happen from now until 2013.
So, I have said in a series of holiday cards:
From our house to yours -
I'll be back in 2013.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Another Day with the Boathouse

Great day at the studio today!  We celebrated both the holidays and our friendship as you will see in the photos.  But we did not forget why we were there and after some refreshments, wonderful tea, and laughter, we each got back to our work.  Here's the wonder of this studio, Johanna is working with watercolor, Arlene is sketching in pencil, Lena is working in pastels, and I am dabbling in oils.  We admire, encourage, and envy the work each other does, but we each grow in our own way at our own pace.  It's a very supportive group and Sharon is a joy as a teacher.

Arlene, Johanna, Lena, and Moi

Sharon in the front
Today I worked on some of the things I talked about last week.  The color of the rocks closest to the boathouse now reflect "atmospheric perspective" (simply put their colors are more subdued because they are farther away from the rocks in the immediate foreground).  The evergreen behind the boathouse is less garish though still not finished, and the ramp from the boathouse to the water is not only nearly done, but its reflection is in the water.  And that's the funny part - that reflection seems to hang there in the lake attached to nothing.  When the reflection of the boathouse becomes more substantial, all will be well.  I hope.  You may remember that the original reflection of the B'house was originally merely sketched in to "hold its place" in the painting. 

To me, adding that ramp really did the job of tying the composition together as a whole.  Still quite a bit to work on, but once the holiday sewing is over (and the holidays, too!) progress should pick up. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Visit to See Ann

After several attempts to come up with a workable date, D and I were able to go see my sister-in-law Ann who lives about 2 hours from us.  She recently needed to have a pacemaker put in to regulate her heart beat, and we decided that we have to get to see her more frequently.
In lovely weather the drive is a nice one.  Today wasn't lovely, but we also didn't have the winter weather we would have encountered in a normal year.  It was just a gray, damp day.  We listened to some old radio shows, and as we weren't expected until lunch time and were early, we made a stop to poke around in some shops.  Then we went on our way.
Ann is about fifteen years older than I am, but that was never an issue in our friendship even early on when it could have been.  What makes this a noteworthy enough visit to share is that now she is beginning to show signs of dementia. 
I don't know if today was a good day or if the pacemaker has improved her mental state or whether it was a combination of the above (probably the latter).  Whatever it was, the visit was enjoyable, but I found myself mentally ticking off behaviors that made me think, "Yes, this is not Ann-like; this must be a sign of the onset of dementia."
On our way home, I thought about that - the mental check list - and initially felt ashamed of it.  But then I thought, "Wait a minute.  I've stopped denying that her mental capacities may be floundering.  That's a good thing.  By recognizing the changes, I will be able to deal with them and accept them as they appear.  I won't get impatient and expect her to be as she was; rather, I'll accept her as she is now."
It sounds good, and I think it is.  But I know it isn't fool proof.  Even though I don't live with her, there may be times when I want to throw up my hands and walk away.   Yet, in the long run, knowing some of what to expect will make it easier to plan more frequent trips.  It will be easier to spend time with a dearly loved sister as she is now and not spend  the visits regretting that she isn't the vivacious woman she once was.
The slip-slide of mental faculties is dreadful to witness.  As long as my visits are pleasurable for her and help her care giver, and I can continue to be a patient, caring person, then I will find a way to bear witness to that disintegration.  Then possibly I can tell those who may have to do the same for me what they can expect - not from me - but from themselves and their own feelings. 
Passing on that knowledge to the next generation would be a fitting legacy for Ann, the woman, the mother, the teacher, the priest. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What Can WE Do?

That's a question many of us have been asking after the horrific events of the past several days.  I certainly don't have any super answers.  But I can tell you what I've done.  I've signed petitions to urge our government to forget about politics long enough to pass some reasonable gun control bill that would include background checks.  With that, I urge them to make a commitment to help the mentally ill.  We have to do both. 
One of our local quilt shops is calling for pillowcases for the students who survived.  I have made a promise to myself to make as many as I can.
Also, I have promised myself that as opportunities arrive to help in some way, I will take advantage of them.  Some of the things I do may seem insignificant, but I don't believe they are.  Those little ones and the adults around them who survived need all kinds of different support, and while I can't reach out to give them hugs and whispers of reassurance, I can make one tiny bright spot in their week or month. 
And it makes me feel better, less powerless.  We all feel the need to do something, and I suggest that we all find some way we can contribute.
Don't forget that keeping busy helps.  I have spent today working on gifts, finding fabrics suitable for pillowcases, baking for an up-coming holiday celebration, and spending time with my family.  Life goes on, and that's one thing that will be hard for some to deal with.  Keeping busy helps.
Finally, I was lucky beyond measure that our daughter and grandson drove in on Saturday to spend the day.  We were able to hug our loved ones, and believe me, we took advantage of that.
Share with us what you are doing.  Have you heard of things being done with which others can help?  Share that information.  Send me a note, and I'll pass the information along as best I can.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Boathouse - Day 5

Part of me feels I should stop writing until after the holidays because I cannot post photos of my activities, yet.  My sewing machine has been whirring busily away, and after the gift exchanges are over, I will share the results of my work.
In the mean time, you will be subjected to whatever floats through my mind - as you've probably already noticed.  But today I do have this week's work on the Boathouse to show you.  It's amazing how little I seem to have painted in my two hours in the studio!

I just checked and this is the fifth day of painting for this work.  That's not a lot, it's just that it has taken longer by calendar than my usual paintings.  Well, it's a busy time of year.
So here's what I've done and decided.  I finally started back on the trees which my hand has been itching to do for some time now.  The background trees are quite sketchy, but at least you can see where they will be (if you click on the photo to enlarge it).  The birch in the front of the boathouse is on its way.  The dark brown "outlines" on either side of the trunk will be softened slightly and the upper portion is not even worth mentioning.  There is an evergreen above and behind the roof though the color is in transition. 
As I was painting, I realized that I really don't want it to be dawn because as my brother pointed out that would change the shape of all my shadows.  They would be pulled on the diagonal to the lower right which the composition most definitely can not  handle!  So I'm back to my non-specific time, maybe morning, sun not visible but shadows indicating where it might be.  Whew!  The colors of the rocks nearest the boathouse on the far right need to be muted, and I haven't gotten back to the wooden ramp from the boathouse to the water.  And there will be leaves, of course . . .   the distant shore . . .  
Much yet to do, and more paintings crowding my head asking to be let out onto canvas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Comment for a Friend

Today I had several e-mails about recent entries; thank you to all of you who take the time to comment.  I know how much effort that takes! 
I've been avidly reading and enjoying the blog of a dear friend (who is in the midst of renovating sections of her wonderful home).  She's so pleased with her choice of paint color because the gray make her happy.  She is right when she also says, "Go with your gut" no matter what might be popular (coral is an "in" color, for example, that would not make me happy on my walls).  I can see her in a gray room.  Gray is the color of mist.  Mist is usually silent.  Mist and silence indicate the presence of a body of water.  Water means rhythym.  Rocking is soothing therefore gray equals tranquility.
Isn't is fun to let your mind follow a whisper of an idea to see where it leads you?
Anyway, I was going to say that while I have enjoyed reading her entries and poring over her photgraphs, I have not commented.  The right words aren't always ready, the time may not be available, distraction may set in - there are a hundred and one reasons for not commenting.  But when I find the moment, I try to grab it.
So, Karen, this entry is for you.  I am so happy when you write, and as I read, I always have an internal dialogue with you.  I admire you for keeping yourself active and for allowing yourself to find joy when it does come to you. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Secret Delights in Making Holiday Gift

No, I'm not going to whine and complain about all the gifts I have yet to make.  Today I am going to celebrate something very lovely I have discovered about gift making.  Actually, we all know the basic feel good reactions: the nobility of making something for someone else, the pleasure of anticipating the pleasure of someone else, and the knowledge of making something useful that will be used.  There are other reasons you could probably list; these are just a few that popped into my mind.
Today I learned some other wonderful things about making gifts.  There are times when I am asked to make something, or times when I realize I know the perfect gift for someone even though they haven't asked for it.  There is a sense of secret delight that to me is different from the public one associated with gift giving.  It's that little hug you mentally give yourself as you prepare the "perfect" gift.  It's an earned pat on the back.  It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's a pleasure from start to finish.  That's one special joy.  It isn't really new, but verbalizing the way I feel is new.  Now I have a truer sense of why the rare "perfect" gift is so special to me as well as to the recipient.
Here's the one that's really a first for me.  I have made a few things this year that I wouldn't have done if they weren't intended as gifts.  On top of that, some were items I've never made before.  The personal thrill came from doing an excellent job, making something really special for someone, knowing that I can do it again, and knowing that possibly, just possibly, I would make it for myself.  It sounds selfish, but here's the thing.  All those feeling-special-about-me things means that I have been given the ability to do something that will make another person happy.  It means my time has been put to good use.

It means,"Stop complaining, Noel!" 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Grandson as Artist

Aren't the drawings of young children wonderful expressions of freedom.  Most of the time, I am lucky enough to be asked to admire drawings by children who aren't shy, who haven't been taught the "correct" colors of things, who don't care about perspective, and who draw simply because it's fun.  And their art is spontaneous with no thought of composition or all the other things so many of us think about the moment we take up our "art tools."
Here is a work of art done by our eight-year-old grandson, and I am so impressed!  Until recently, the only things he was interested in drawing were either flamingos or turtles.  He worked quite hard at this until something better came along, and he was tired of coloring-in the shirt anyway.

It is a portrait of me, and I am delighted with it.  I love the smile he gave me and adore my ears!  Very seriously he told me that he had some difficulty with my nose.  I told him I have trouble with it, too, especially when it runs!
I plan to take it back to him at Christmas time and request his signature.  One thing I will teach him is that every artist should sign her/his work!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

As you can tell from the title of this entry, I'm about to discuss a book I've read recently.  Before I begin, I should remind you that this book like others I've mentioned here, was one I read for my Young Adult literature course.  And I will also remind you that I am a champion of YA literature for adults as well as for the intended audience.  In previous entries I've talked about how these books are marketed, how the publisher often makes the decision about whether to publish a book as adult or young adult, and how too often worthy books are ignored by a reading public that might otherwise snatch up a YA book if it only were marketed for adults.  Enough said.
We started our year with historical fiction, and I found myself hoping to avoid the preponderance of WWI and WWII books usually on the list.  Too many of those books are wrenchingly hard to read due to their subject so I was thrilled to find books on medieval Wales, Tudor England, and early 20th century New York City to name a few.  There were also three about WWII (or at least I read three - I don't think there were others).
The first I read, Faraway Island by Annika Thor, was about Jewish sisters from Vienna who were relocated to Sweden and was quite good.  It covered a facet of the war (relocation of children at risk) that I hadn't seen covered before.  It was correctly labeled a YA book, and I recommend it for that audience. 
The second WWII novel, My Family for the War by Anne C.Voorhoeve, quickly became my favorite read from this year's choices in historical fiction.  It's a translation from the German, but I didn't notice any issues (some classmates did) because I was captured by the story of a girl who got out of harm's way on the Kindertransport* and wound up with a family in England.  Similar to Faraway Island?  Superficially, yes, but . . .  While this book is YA, I think adults would read and appreciate this story.  The protagonist in this book starts out as a young teen but is an adult by the end of the book.  It's very moving (check it out on Amazon or somewhere on-line that has plot summaries).
It was my favorite until I read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, and then, oh my!  I am including a plot summary from 's review of
September 21, 2012 ( because it is a very complex plot, and I don't want to give anything away.
This story, about two young women, a Scottish spy and an English pilot during World War II in Nazi-occupied France, pulled me in, yanked me around, and left me feeling breathless. The narrative begins in Queenie's point of view, as she writes to literally save her life as a prisoner of war in a French hotel that's been converted into a place of torture by the Nazis. Queenie oscillates between recalling what she knows of the wireless operators working for the Resistance and Ally forces--including their codes, locations, and activities--and details about her torment as a prisoner. As a once refined, upperclass student at Oxford, Queenie employs literary devices to dramatize her story for her captors, writing more than required. She also needs to write, to help her deal with her terrifying situation and to return to a time when she was still with her best friend, Maddie.

Maddie, the English pilot, is not refined. At a time when women were discouraged from flying--used only as a last resort--she just wanted the opportunity. Raised by grandparents who own a motorbike store, Maddie has her own motorbike (and independence) and quickly learns how to work on engines. Once her talents are recognized, she quickly becomes the go-to pilot for a French Resistance unit flying by moonlight on secret airfields getting people in and out of the country, not far from where her best friend is being held captive.
This book covers things that occurred during WWII that I didn't know about, and after reading books, granted only fictional ones, that cover that war, I thought I had a passing understanding of the period.  This novel proves to me the more you know the more there is to learn.  Anyway, I think this book will be (if it isn't already) short-listed for an award.  Indeed, the NYT's review ( hints that it could be a contender for the Prinz Award (aka "Michael L. Prinz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature").
Whew, what a book!  Do read the review which will explain more about why it's such a good book, and if you enjoy historical fiction (remember, this is fiction), try to get this one from your local library.  It's worth it.

 * The Kindertransport (children were taken by train - the transport) was a rescue mission mounted by Britain to save European children from death.  Before the war broke out, England managed to rescue 10,000 children who were placed with British families until the end of the war.  Unfortunately, the majority of those children were never reunited with their families because they had died in the war.   Again, if you're interested, look up "Kindertransport"; it's fascinating reading.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas from Nancy

The day before yesterday we found a package on our front stoop addressed to D from his sister Nancy.  It was from White Flower Farm, a purveyor of plants and related goodies, so we put it in the garage to stay cool until yesterday when he had time to open his gift (knowing that it was probably plant material we knew we couldn't wait until Christmas).

In the box, he found everything he needed for a terrarium, and I do mean everything.  I was too excited to take photos until he'd started planting, but here he is on his way.  First he laid down a layer of gravel and then some pellitized charcoal.  Next was soil that had been soaking up water while he completed the first steps.  At that point he unwrapped five plants and thought about how he would arrange them (yes, five plants!).

You can see he's on the fourth plant in the above picture.  You may notice that two of the plants have green and red coloration (and fern-like leaves), one has green leaves with white veining, there's a bromeliad in the center that is taller and has corn plant-like leaves, and the last plant is a "button"-leafed plant.  It's leaves are nicely rounded.  What a striking combination of plants!*

Gently pressing soil around the plant.  In the foreground of this photograph you can see the plant identifying sticks and the sheet of detailed, step-by-step instructions on the right and the top of the terrarium on the left.

Plant number five is being settled in place.  After this he was to put sand on the top of the soil for aesthetical reasons.  For those same reasons, he opted not to do that as he likes the more natural look of the dark, loamy soil (the sand was the color of curry powder).  I think the green of the plants against the backdrop of the soil is simply lovely.

Plant have been misted and encased in their new home.  D had a great time putting this together, and it was the first thing he checked this morning.  The glass had the hoped for light condensation on the interior, so we knew all was progressing as it should.
This was an inspired gift, Nancy!
*for those of you interested in plants, here are the "proper" names:
red and green plants: Selaginella sanguin erythropus 'Ruby Red Moss'
        the 2nd one's plant ID tag is missing, but I remember it, too, was a Selaginella
green leaf with white veining:  Fittonia (painted net leaf)
bromeliad: Bromelias Vriesea 'Kallisto'
button leaf: Pellaea rotundifolia 'Button Fern'

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quilts Ready for Mailing!

It's a Banner Day!  All three quilt labels have been sewn on, and the quilts are ready to go.  As I sewed, I thought about the labels I used to make.  They were hand-drawn with a motif appropriate for the quilt and hand lettered with great care (did you know that for art students there is actually a class called "Lettering" which is required for freshmen?  Or there used to be.  Not my finest hour!).  Anyway, those labels took almost as long to make as the quilt.  Which is why not all of my quilts have labels (even though I really, really think labels are important!).  This label fabric by Timeless Treasures is a life saver; do buy it and use it.

Since I am sending these quilts to youngsters, sending books to go with them is a no brainer for me.  The "Wonders of the Deep" special edition of Life magazine will go with "Liquid Assets on the Loose", of course.  The coloring book is for the younger of the two little girls who are receiving the fairy quilts (though she's just 18 months old, she has to get something), and the alphabet book is for her older sister.   

I believe children can grow into books just as they can grow into clothes.  Hopefully, the little ones will like their packages, but I think their parents will be more interested than they will.  After all, what's exciting about a blanket?

Doesn't matter.  I loved making these quilts and thinking of the three little ones snuggled under them wrapped in my love.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Words of Wisdom and Binding

You'd think I'd learn by now, but clearly, it has - once again - taken family and friends to knock (though quite gently, I must say) some sense into my little pea brain.  If you're wondering what I'm talking about, think for a minute what you would have said to me after reading yesterday's entry, and then, read the comments on that entry.  What wonderful people I know; to you who took the time to try to point out the obvious, thank you!
 The magic in those words made me float through the day, and I finished binding both fairy quilts!  It must have been because I felt more relaxed, and I realized that what gets done gets done and what doesn't doesn't.  It's not a big issue.  What is important is, as I have said before but needed reminding, family and friends.  Even my painting teacher wrote and said that she's stopped beating herself over the head because she isn't painting regularly.  She said she is busy making gifts and baking and both of those activities are definitely creative, too.  Same kind of message, different approach. 
No photos of the quilts because although I used the same technique as I did on "Liquid Assets on the Loose", the result isn't dramatic.  This time the binding was not a solid color; it was multi-colored swirls of purples with silver forming the curlicues.  The thread I had chosen matched the swirls so the decorative stitch I had thought to use simply got lost on the material.  I still used an "embroidery" stitch but a far more simple one.  It's pretty because of the binding not the stitch, and that's okay by me (besides the simpler stitch went faster).  Tonight I wrote on the labels (fabric printed with labels - another grand time saver!), tomorrow I will cut them out, and then hand stitch to the back of the quilts.  When that is done they will be ready to take to UPS. 
I think that will call for at least one glass of wine - maybe two.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Holiday Frenzy - Again!

I'm back into my state of feeling completely overwhelmed by the amount of work I need to complete before the holidays.  It seems that no sooner do I start to get a rhythm going than something unexpected comes along to shut down that music entirely.  Tonight I almost fretted myself into a real state.
Before I could completely hyperventilate, though, I got out my calendar, crossed a few things off, made a phone call, and sent an e-mail.  I've also decided, that no matter how enticing invitations might seem, I will not accept any until a certain amount of work is done.  After all, if all the bindings (today I discovered that the bindings for the fairy quilts are too short and had to cut two more lengths - thanks to the goddess of math-challenged quilters I have enough fabric!) and labels aren't sewn on none of them can be mailed.  I'd hate to have one part of the family feel overlooked! 
Another thing I will do is ask D to help out by fielding phone calls from charities asking for help and by trying to keep all similar interruptions to a minimum.  He's good at that since he knows how those same calls disrupt his work flow.
And here's the frustrating thing - I've enjoyed every one of both the unscheduled and scheduled side steps I've taken!  You know, it just comes down to that age old question:  Why can't I do everything? 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Busy Day

No pictures today and not a great deal of interesting news either.  It was a day for getting my hair trimmed, running errands, squaring up the two fairy quilts, sewing the binding strips together, cooking dinner, and completing the decorating of the g'bread men/turtles.
The latter was still fun.  I made one of the g'bread men into a Detroit Tiger so the Yankee player would have someone to play catch with.  The Tigers are D's baseball team, and the Yankees are our grandson's favorites so he'll enjoy having both on his tree.  The last large g'bread man is now a Santa.  The last wood turtle has a baseball frosted on his shell, and the final sea turtle is masquerading as a loon (now that was fun!).
When we return from our weekend of helping with our daughter's tree trimming and the bonsai club's annual Christmas party, I will be able to work diligently on binding the two fairy quilts.  I hope. 
Then on to more Christmas gifts.  Have a successful weekend as you try to get everything on your list done!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gingerbread . . . Turtles?

A few days ago our grandson called and invited us to help them decorate their Christmas tree.  Who could refuse an offer like that?  And of course, we immediately began discussing what we could take with us that wouldn't impinge on their family traditions.  We chose gingerbread cookies that could be hung on the tree just as Rebecca used to hang them on our tree.  At first I thought of the usual gingerbread shapes mostly men and woman with a few other shapes thrown in for fun. 
But wait . . . this is our grandson who has developed a deep interest in turtles (thanks to D, his Papa).  With D and C (grandson) around checking up on me, I didn't dare make anatomical mistakes with my turtles so this afternoon, I checked on-line for pictures of both sea and land turtles. Then I took out a brown paper bag and drew two templates, cut them out, mixed, refrigerated, and rolled out the dough. 
I've discovered from past experience that it isn't difficult to cut around paper bag templates as long as the knife is sharp, the dough cold, and the patience in place.  It does take longer than using cookie-cutters, but the final product is personal and, therefore, superior.  If you try it yourself, just make your shapes are as simple as possible to start with.  It makes cutting easier, and also simplifies lifting the cookies from cutting surface to cookie sheet.
After baking the turtles and a few gingerbread men and women of different sizes, we let them cool.  The big ones already have the holes which I make with plastic straws before baking for the ribbons (to loop over strong tree branches) and the smaller ones are for eating.  Have you ever hung cookies on the tree?  You know you want to eat them!  So I made some extras just for eating.  The cookies all look a bit strange at this point, but I think you can tell which are the g'bread people and which are turtles.  

After dinner I decided to decorate a few while watching TV.  And wouldn't you know it; I just noticed that I took the one physically challenged boy (right foot is missing) to decorate as a Yankee!  Subtle reminder that being challenged doesn't mean you have to sit around for the rest of one's life?  Oh well, our daughter's family will appreciate this Yankee - missing foot and all.  The sea turtle is on the right and the land turtle on the left. 

I'll finish the others tomorrow and let you know after the weekend how the cookies are received.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Comments on Painting

Sunday I posted a photograph of a painting-in-progress that I have, quite unimaginatively, called Boathouse.  The inspiration for this painting is a photograph I took of an old boathouse on the lake where we spend time every summer.  So it is a real place that is being more or less realistically portrayed.  I have chosen to show an early dawn sky even though the sun does not rise where I have placed it in my version and that is one of the perks of painting.  The painter can change reality.
However, a painter should not change the rules of nature without very good reason and considerable deliberation.  That was pointed out to me by my brother in a comment he made (remember I asked for comments?).  He reminded me that if the sun were rising where I had it and at that time of day, the shadows cast by objects such as the rocks would be quite different from the shadows I had portrayed.  He went on to detail how the shadows would be different.  Then he also mentioned that the colors would be altered by the sun at the horizon line, also. 
Let me tell you; I printed his comments and scotch-taped them to my easel.  Until last Sunday, I had no sun and no dawn so both shadows and colors were all right (maybe not great but at least headed in the right direction).  When I decided to add an early dawn, I put in the sun and added a few hints of appropriate color in both lake and sky though not enough for anyone (my brother) to notice.  I had not thought through the impact on my painting of the changes I had arbitrarily made.  That's why the comment is taped on my easel - as a reminder for the future as well as for now.  My brother thinks about his work.  His approach includes the necessary cerebral exercises while mine is clearly quite slapdash. 
Then there was also a comment from Esther.  She is concerned about the perspective of the boathouse from the point of view I have chosen (I imagine myself on a nearby rock on the lower right of the painting).  I feel that my perspective is correct, but her comment tells me that as I have represented it in my painting, it is not believable or understandable to other viewers.  Unfortunately, I forgot to discuss it with my teacher today (we were working on other issues), but clearly, I need to.  What I will say to Esther is to give me a little more time to "set the stage" with the support under the boathouse which will anchor it in the painted landscape.  When I paint again, I will turn the canvas upside down which will give me an inverted view of what I have actually "drawn" rather than what I think I have drawn.  That upside down trick really works, by the way. 
The third comment was from ME who suggested an addition.  She thought a boat in the lake would add to the composition, and I agree that the left side of the painting may seem a bit empty.  However, that emptiness is deliberate.  The way I remember this scene is how silent it was, how serene, and how devoid of civilization.  I'd like to be able to convey that even when humans are present (the boathouse symbolizes a human presence has been there), it possible to experience that quiet, that peace.  I may need to go back to the misty morning with no dawn! 
This is why I ask for comments.  They are so very helpful in making me think about what I am doing, defend my choices, and explain my intentions.  So don't be shy about voicing your thoughts.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Machine Binding

This entry is not for the die-hard purist in you; this is a practical solution to the problem of binding a gift quilt.  First of all, for all my love of hand piecing, embroidery, crewel, etc, I do not enjoy hand-sewing binding on my quilts.  I am not a fast sewer, I try to be meticulous, and I loathe it.  So when I read an article that mentioned machine binding both the front and the back of a quilt, I knew I had to try it.

This past year, I attempted machine binding on several pieces.  It wasn't very successful for a number of reasons.  I gave it up.  Then recently I came across another article in which machine binding was the focus, and the author actually described what she did.  Lights went on again! 
Remember the three quilts I made for the greats?  It took two days to square up the quilt (cut all the excess batting and material away in such a manner that the edges were straight and the corners right angles), cut the binding strips and sew them together, iron the binding, pin it on the quilt, and sew.   But I did it, and at the end of the two days the quilt is officially finished (well, except for the label - but that's easy).  As you look at the pictures, remember this quilt is for a child.

Machine stitch the binding on the back of the quilt using a regular running stitch, fold it over to the front, and sew the front of the binding (usually with a running stitch close to the edge of the binding where it meets the quilt).  The author of the article suggested using the decorative stitches on our machines especially for children's quilts. 

This stitch looks like waves to me.  You'll notice that the entire pattern stitch is on the solid black binding.  It is wide enough to hold the edges down, and I didn't want the stitch to get lost in among the fish.  The variegated thread makes it stand by itself.  I don't think I'd use something this busy on many quilts, but I thought this one could handle it. 

Here's the first corner (sorry it's so blurry) on the lower right of the photo.  I learned that even with an even-feed foot my machine could not deal with the added bulk of the mitered corner.  This one will be taken out, trust me.

The second corner and then all others were sewn like this.  I'd get about a half-inch away from the corner, use the "needle down" feature, change the mode of my machine from embroidery stitches to a straight stitch, sew the corner, and the reverse the procedure.  It will take some practice to make this better (catching the embroidery stitch at just the right point and making sure the fold over of the miter is properly caught isn't as easy as you might think).

A final view of the corner with the squared off method I used. 
I've already decided on the stitch I'll use on the two fairy quilts, and for the first time, I'm actually looking forward to sewing on a binding.  Embroidery stitches aren't a requirement; a running stitch in a color matching or slightly darker than your binding will work very well. 
With my king size quilts this will make me positively euphoric! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Boathouse 3/4

No, that doesn't mean Boat House three quarters; it means Boathouse days 3 and 4 together.  But before I explain the today's title, how was your Thanksgiving?  Did you have a wonderful time with your family?  We did.  Even though we are a very small family, it was good to be together.  The feast was delicious (D makes almost all the "sides" - when did we start calling them that?), and I decided to set a proper table (you know, linens, silver, crystal, etc.) so it looked like Thanksgiving.  It surprised me how much I liked that.  Anyway, even though some of us may have eaten more than we had intended, the joy of being with loved ones made that one day's indulgence worth it.  I do hope your weekend was memorable, too.
Now, it occurred to me as I came upstairs to write this entry, that I didn't show you or talk about my progress on the Boathouse painting last week.  I did go to class last Tuesday, and I found myself itching to paint again ever since.  That desire started Friday, but we still had a guest so that had to be delayed until Saturday.  Then on Saturday, I remembered that I also had to work on binding the first of the "greats" (great nieces and nephew) quilts so I did that instead yesterday and part of today.  Once the first one had its binding completed, I headed for my paints forgetting to take a picture of Tuesday's work before starting again. 

What you see below is the result of two days of painting.

Sorry about the egg yolk sun peering over a wobbly horizon, but that will be rectified later.   I'm not going to make any more negative observations today (and boy, could I!) or positive ones, either (yes, I could make a few).   I'm wondering if you are thinking the same things I am.  So even though this is still rather early in the development of this painting, what are your reactions?  What do you like - if anything?  What do you think needs work?  It may help you to go back a few weeks to see what I've said about the subject as well as compare the earlier "painting drafts" with this one.
One thing I will say, and it's about the writing of the blog rather than this painting, it surprises me how little I now mind sharing work that is still in its infancy.  When I started blogging, every time I posted unfinished creations I thought I would sink under the desk to hide my head in embarrassment.  The work was so amateur, so raw, so un-tutored.  It still is (though I do see some progress) but I no longer mind putting myself "out there" for you to see.    Now I want your honest comments, and I realize that by publishing what I am doing, I see the work in a new light, also.  It distances me from it so I can view it - almost - as a stranger's work.  And I've gotten accustomed to doing it.  Writing about what I am thinking and trying to do, writing about my frustrations, failures, and triumphs, has developed my ability to think about the processes behind the scenes which helps me grow.

"That," as Martha Stewart would say, "is a good thing."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Beauty

Yesterday was the day where you were supposed to get some photographs from our trip to Madison, CT, but instead you had to read about my usual problem of too many projects and too little time.

So today as a way of wishing you a happy Thanksgiving and long weekend (I'll be back next Monday) I'm sending you a photograph of the beach in Madison at sundown.  Hold this picture in your mind's eye as something for which to be thankful - the beauty that is all around us. 

However, we don't have to travel far to find that beauty; it is in the faces of our friends and loved ones; hold them in your hearts. 

And for them I am truly thankful! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quilt Progress

How I wish that we were sitting in comfortable chairs sipping our beverages of choice so you could actually answer this question; How are your home-made holiday gifts coming along?  Did you take on too many things to make?  Are you feeling comfortable that - possibly because of the extra time between Thanksgiving and the holidays - everything will be completed in time and will be done to the best of your abilities?  Did you, like me, make a solemn oath that you were not going to make anything, and, again like me, break that oath?  How do you feel about that?
Ah well, you aren't sipping hot mulled cider in a rocking chair in my family room, so I guess I'll just tell you how I am doing.  I had said I would not put myself through the craziness of trying to make things this year, but as you know, I didn't stick to that resolve.  I found myself planning to make five quilts and various and sundry small items.  Most of the small sundries will fall by the wayside except for a few special ones, and at least four of the five quilts will be ready for the holidays.  Number four was completed about 15 minutes ago when I sewed the label onto the backing (also just pieced today).  Quilt #5 won't make it in time; it isn't terribly difficult, but I have complicated it by adding my own design ideas to it.  Even if I manage to piece it by Christmas, I seriously doubt that it could be quilted by then.  Besides I have to bind the ones that are finished (but I am going to machine stitch the bindings - both front and back!).
Maybe next year I won't make anything.  Or maybe I'll start as ME does in the spring.
Nah, I'll be saying the same things next year!  What about you?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Trip to Connecticut

We are back from a weekend in Madison, CT to visit friends in Madison, CT.  There will be a lot to tell you and photographs to share but not tonight.  I spent too long unpacking, cleaning up e-mail, making both pleasurable and necessary phone calls to be able to write the entry I planned.
Bear with me and drop in tomorrow to read about the studios I visited of Connecticut artists and see a few photographs. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eureka Moment

Tonight ME and I went to Applique Club.  After we settled down to our various endeavors, I took out the piece I had taken with me to work on.  It's an applique block to put in my Farmer's Wife quilt, and it was the second time I had worked on this particular block.  The pattern is the traditional pineapple with a horseshoe-shaped wreath beneath the pineapple.  The first time I made it my pineapple was reproduction yellow, its leaves and wreath were green.  So very pedestrian!  I would have liked it better if the yellow and greens were prettier, but to my taste the colors I chose were too dark.  This time my background is red, the pineapple is light blue with squiggly red lines, its leaves are a similar blue with red polka dots, and the wreath will be a slightly lighter blue on blue.  Much more like something I would choose (well, I did, of course, but remember I also chose those dull greens and yellow).
As I worked on back-basting the crown of leaves, I thought about how I have struggled with this quilt from the very beginning.  It had started as a challenge to myself, and I have been happy with what I have learned and the experience I have gained by making the blocks from the Farmer's Wife book.  Then why am I still struggling to finish this quilt?  I have 135 blocks completed with only 9 to go so I should be working like crazy to get it done and on our bed.  As I stitched the answer became evident.
I don't like the applique blocks from the other book selected to provide them in order to add a new touch.  The patterns are too clunky for my taste.  What to do?  Yes, I could design my own, but I don't have the time or the inclination to put that kind of work into this project.  So up I got to roam the shop looking for a book that might have patterns that I would like.
There are so many books from which to choose!  One after another - too primitive, too elaborate, too large - no book of patterns was quite right.  Then ME suggested Lori Smith and Pat said Lori Smith.  "Lori Smith?" said I.  "But she only designs pieced quilts!"  Yes, I know better, but my brain had left the room for a minute.  Going to the wall of Lori Smith patterns, I found the perfect one and it makes a 6" x 6" block - hurray and hallelujah!  Birds, trees, and houses - if it had blocks with stars, I would have swooned so I guess it's just as well it doesn't.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Work Day

No photos or interesting discussions of creative doings today.  It was a work day at the Payton household. 
Yesterday we started the clean up for the winter in the back yard, and today we continued it.  I thought (foolish me!) that we would be able to get the rest of the yard and the gardens finished, but that was not to be.  Because of the hectic nature of our lives these past six months (wow), I not only did not plant any annuals in the spring, but I also did not cut down any spent blooms, withered stalks, or desiccated leaves in the fall.  I had do take care of that task before I could rake the fallen leaves out of the garden (where they were cheerfully congregating).  And, of course, that task was made more difficult because the leaves were gleefully hiding most of the plants.  It was sort of a which to take care of first - the chicken (plants) or the eggs (leaves)?
After two hours of work, I had finished taking care of the old plant material and had raked out half of the garden.  It was lunch time so I called it quits.  D had lunch with me, but then he went back out until four o'clock!  Don't even ask what he did because I'm not sure.  Let me just say that he is particular about preparing the yard for spring or for winter or for Wednesday or four o'clock.  He likes being outside. 
While he was continuing the outside chores, I spent the rest of my afternoon doing laundry that hadn't gotten done on Monday, picking up and trying to find places for some of the things we brought back from Dad's house, and washing/dusting some of the decorative items already here.
Not a lot of fun perhaps but a very satisfying day none the less.
Now about those bindings that need sewing on . . . . 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Boathouse Painting Day 2

Great day today.  Not only did I have painting class but I also was able to help D rake the back yard.  We didn't finish that task, but half the yard is finished.  Now we only have the other half and the gardens.  Only!
Today at painting I worked on a pen and ink which was not successful.  At least I know what went wrong so I can start over again with the thought that I'll be able to get it right.  Not only that, I know and understand why it went wrong so I can avoid that particular problem in the future.  Maybe.
Then I turned to the Boathouse painting.  As I had mentioned earlier, my job today was to use the lessons I learned when doing the pen and ink sketch.  I knew I had to get the perspective of the boathouse right, but since I knew what was wrong, I felt I had a good chance of correcting it.  The trees I had sort of slapped on last week had to go, and the new ideas from the ink sketch incorporated if I had the time (I didn't).  Here is the result of today's work:

The trees are still "ghosting", and the boathouse is still "floating in air" but those problems will be taken care in of as the painting continues. You will also see that I began putting in some more reflections which is actually rather silly because the water is by no means finished.  However, it gives me a sense of what I want to do (and what I shouldn't do).  The big rock on the left was pulled closer to the edge of the painting as Sharon pointed out there was too much empty space there. 
Frankly, if I were you, I'd look at this and think it all looks rather sickly so I hope you'll stick with me and watch to see what happens.  It will be interesting, I think, if it eventually matches my mental vision.  And you can always go back to the ink study to check on what I keep, delete, or just change.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Estate Clear Out

Saturday we spent the entire day in my husband's boyhood home.  We were lucky that the auctioneer was able to come in and take all the "high end" things AND that it didn't take all day as we thought it might.  Really, the best part of the experience was that Alice (D's sister) was able to drive in to help out as did Rebecca with her husband and son.  With all that help, we were able to sort through photographs and keep an eye on things.  It was rather interesting to watch the auctioneer and his crew.  After we were home again, the second auctioneer called and made an appointment to meet with us today (Monday).
Sunday I taught a class and had a bit of time once home to take care of some mundane chores.  My only disappointment was in missing the opportunity the mild weather would have given us to clean out the gardens in the back yard.  That evening both of us did little to nothing, and I didn't even write an entry.
Today it was off to D's parents' home for the second estate manager (I really don't know what their official titles are so I just use whatever seems appropriate).  Again, we were lucky as we both liked the man.  He whipped through the house, attics, and basement, but as fast as he went, he missed nothing.  He said there really wasn't anything left of much value.  We expected that so weren't disappointed.  The great thing is that he will take care of getting everything out of the house and leave it broom clean.  He'll sell whatever he can, donate other things that can be used, and dispose of whatever is left.  We won't have to be there (D really doesn't want to be for this part) which is another benefit. 
So as you can tell, things are moving along, and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.   I just feel so relieved that there are people one can hire to do these things so we don't have to.    

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pen and Ink Study #2

Whew, yesterday I learned that I should sketch the scene for an intended painting before I begin painting it.  So today I did another pen and ink study of another landscape that I might someday turn into a painting.
AND of course, I learned another lesson.  This is pen and ink.  It is a study.  It is not intended to be a finished work that would merit framing and hanging on a wall.  Stop when the going is good (that's the lesson)!  Today's sketch was another of the photographs taken PDC (pre-digital cameras) of the road from the south end of the Vermont lake of which you have seen so much over the years.  It is a spectacular view of the shadowed road curving downhill, farm, lake, and mountain all in one fell swoop.
There's a BIG hint in that last sentence. I gave you the sequence of what you will see in the sketch from the bottom to the top. Don't be surprised if you have to work at it when you look at my sketch. I warn you now; it's over-worked:
On the positive side, I do think it would make a good painting!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wrong-Way Corrigan

When you were in elementary school, did your class receive copies of the Weekly Reader?  If you did, you may remember the story about Wrong-Way Corrigan, the pilot who, after being refused permission to fly to Ireland, "misread" his compass and flew to Ireland instead of California.  He flew east instead of west hence the moniker, "Wrong-Way".
Well, today I remembered that pilot as I did a pen and ink study for the Boathouse painting after I had already started the painting.  What an idiot!  Oh well, I learned several lessons.  The most important lesson was that doing a preliminary sketch is not only worthwhile; it is critical.  One sees things more clearly while doing the sketch because pen or pencil is more detailed than broad swathes of color spread liberally with brush or knife.  The hand learns how to draw shapes before trying it out with the less specific brush or knife.  When I was painting, I saw only the large shapes (and some not too well!) and had a general impression of color.  I knew what I thought would make a good composition but hadn't figured out some of the problems. 
The sketch might be difficult to understand because the reflections in the water are rendered inexpertly with ink and ink wash and the rest of the image is drawn in the same manner.  Differentiating the physical from the reflection will be hard.  But you will be able to get a better sense of the boathouse and its surroundings.  Here it is:

From now on whenever possible, I think I will sketch first and therefore avoid becoming a Wrong-Way Corrigan.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Painting - Boathouse

Voting day is over.  D and I have just returned from the polls, and since I delivered him to the polls at 5:15 a.m., we are both quite tired.  The good news is that it was a very busy day with an exceptionally good turnout of voters.
For me it was also a successful day because I began a new painting.  This is another one of the lake from a photograph I took in the pre-digital days.  The subject is a boathouse that is built out over the lake on a footing of cement (no longer allowed!) and natural stone.  It presents several challenges for me, not the least of which is the very subdued palette.  View this photo of the painting as an initial sketch that just happens to be in oils.

My job will be to tweak the perspective which is close but not completely accurate and also to make that perspective believable to the viewer.
I think it will be fun watching how this painting progresses.
Well, it will be fun for me, at least!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Voting Day

By the time you read this, I hope you will all have gone to the polls and have cast your ballot.  If you haven't been able to yet, be sure to get there!
D and I have been spending a lot of time getting ready for tomorrow.  He has to be there around 5:30 a.m. to work the polls, and I have to be up to get him there so I can have the car for the rest of the day.  That full day means that he spent a lot of today doing what he won't be able to do here tomorrow. 
After grocery shopping, I spent my time baking a Reuben loaf (bread on the outside with corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese on the inside) and an apple crisp for D to take to share.  The group with whom he works is a congenial one and they all have something with them to share.  It's such a long day and they have to be so focused, that it's important to have good food to eat on the quick breaks they allow themselves. 
Of course, I won't be able to vote when I drop him off, so I will stop in after painting and crazy quilt classes.  You can be sure I'll cast my vote so I'll have the right to complain if I want to later in the year. 
You know how it is; if you don't vote, you can't cast any blame or take any credit, and where's the fun in that?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Springfield Wool and Fiber Festival

Saturday's expedition was to the Wool and Fiber Festival in Springfield.  It was a great time; how could it not be with all those wonderful colors?  Since I am working so hard on taking charge of my stash, I was determined not to purchase any yarn.  Did I succeed?  For the most part.  I bought one kit ($15.00) that included a tiny amount of yard, beads, and a pattern. 
Then I stumbled upon (almost literally) a booth devoted to wool.  Not the spun-into- skeins-of-yarn type of wool but the woven-into-fabric kind. The kind that is used to make wool wall hangings, snowmen, and wool tiles. Oh joyous day! I worked very hard to limit myself to fabrics I knew I needed for the wool project after Wool Tile and did pretty well. I bought the one piece of orange and several different shades of brown that I will need for that project. I also threw in some different greens for leaves for something in the future - my irresponsible purchase. Here they are:

One large piece of orange, four rolls of brown (two not yet felted) and four strips of green.  Total price was only $34.00.  Amazing!  I was proud to have resisted temptation (mostly) and to have spent so little money.
Later in the day, I found a booth that sold buttons.  With D's help (yes, he actually choose and pulled out possibilities to show me), I bought buttons for wool work, buttons for quilts, and buttons for my crazy quilts.  Gone was my pride in saving money!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Wool Tile

Disappointing but the wool tile is not yet finished and I wanted it as a gift for this weekend's visit to friends.  Fortunately, I don't really need it as I am providing dinner, but it would have been nice.  Here's what I have so far - pins and all: 
I was getting ready to stitch the two leaves on the left in place and was pulling the freezer paper off the "lobster claw" leaf when it came apart at the narrow point.  Although I was being careful, it must have been a weak area where the weave was loose.  You can't see it in the picture, but I'll have to re-cut that set of leaves.  The stems are pinned in place, but they do not extend over the leaves; they will end at the leaf's edge and start up again on the other side.  Since stitching sometimes pulls up the fabric, I wanted to be sure I had enough stem to actually meet the leaf at each edge so I cut them extra long.
In the above photo you can see how I stitched the skinny stems and veins of the big maple leaf.  It's the detached fly stitch, and I like the way it looks - except for the place where I angled the stitches to go up the veins.  It seemed like a good idea, but it isn't completely successful. 
What do you think?  Is it the angle?  Or doesn't it bother you?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Whew, that certainly was me in a "down mood" yesterday, wasn't it!   Today was a better day; both brothers are fine though the one in northern NJ is without power - of course.  So although this is an old photo, it makes me think of Halloween and so is worth sharing again.

Hope you all enjoyed the little ones (and the bigger ones, too) in their Halloween finery!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"The New Normal"

I'm going to pass on writing my usual kind of entry tonight; the phrase "the new normal" keeps repeating in my mind like a song you despise but can't get out of your head. 
When do you think people are going to accept the fact that what is happening to the weather (and therefore to millions of people across the globe) is at least in part due to our heedlessness?  Tonight on the news, one expert was saying that even if we changed our ways immediately, it would take decades to repair the damage we've done.
If you're like me, you immediately start thinking about our grandchildren or the little ones that will be coming to our doors tomorrow. 
If the weather will allow them to leave the shelter of their homes. 

Monday, October 29, 2012


Poor coastal areas!  Watching the news tonight has been amazing; I can't comprehend the size or ferocity of this storm.  Yes, I look at the weather map and see the area affected by Sandy, but it doesn't sink in.  Fortunately. 
My east-coast-of-Florida brother and family are okay.  They didn't get the battering that Florida so frequently does.  Only some rain and wind this time, he said.  My northern-New-Jersey brother and two of his sons and their families may not be faring so well, and that is a worry.  Watching the weather reporters standing virtually in the surf leaning against the wind is beyond belief.
The devastation of New Orleans was unbelievable, but as far reaching as it was, it occurred in one locale.  And it was relatively far away.  This time it seems that most of the eastern seaboard and inland, our area,  is going to be wiped clean.  Earlier this afternoon,  our neighbor who vacations in Block Island spoke about low-lying areas of that island and wondered if they will be cut off from the main island or simply submerged.  That made me think about all the islands and low-lying seacoast areas from South Carolina on up and their fates.
Will the cartographers be drawing new maps?
What shape will recovery take for those who are losing so much?  How can we help?
And finally, when will our weather settle back down into its more predictable patterns?  Or are we beginning to chart a new "predictable"? 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sisters in Quilting

Pat C has been the subject of an earlier (very early!) entry, and today she is the reason behind as well as part of this entry.  Through her, my special group of women friends, have met Theresa (Pat's mom) and Theresa's sisters, and assorted others.  If I counted right (and it was hard to do because these ladies do NOT sit still for counting purposes!) the Sisters' Group were 8 altogether, we were 4, L and J were 2, the shifting group behind me (whom I couldn't see so they played games to confuse me) were either 4 or 7 depending on when I looked, David (the host and superior chef and quilt holder extraordinaire), and two young ladies-in-waiting.   So depending on when you were trying to count there were possibly 21 or 24 or 32 or 12.  Well, I never was very good at math.  It was a large group.
The purpose of this gathering was for the Sisters' Group to have a Show and Tell of all their creations since the last meeting and in particular to show off their Challenge quilt.  Knowing I was in for a treat, I took a front row position on the floor where I could see very well.  I knew these women were prolific, but there is no way I was prepared for the sheer volume of glory I would see.  The first lady showed what I thought were going to be 3, many 4 quilts.  I was wrong.  I think she had 10 (of which maybe 8 were applique).  The next lady showed us 15, and the next one had 25, and the next had 40, and the next - well, you get the picture.  Among the 8 women in the Sisters' Group there were enough quilts to show at Proctor's Theater!  Prolific doesn't even begin to encompass the work these women do.
But as special as their quilts were (and I didn't take photos but Karen did so do check her blog!), the beauty, excellent workmanship, and number of quilts is not really the subject of this entry.  Once again, I was most impressed by the community of women.  Yes, these were mostly sisters and probably had been raised to love one another, but more than that, these women liked each other.  They truly admired what the others had created, they admired, they were actively aware of everything that went on, and as I said earlier, they didn't sit still for more than a moment.  Best of all, the laughter, oh, my, the sheer joy of being together.  These are vibrant women, who use everything they can, throw nothing away, give to others, and share their knowledge willingly.  
This was a time for them, yet each and everyone of the Sisters' Group and all others who were an integral part of this gathering, welcomed the rest of us whole heartedly.  We could have been an imposition, taking up their special time, intruding on a family, but they never let us feel that way.  The Sisters' Group of women opened their arms to the others of us who were there and made us all one community.

Now, that's power.

Wonder what their adoption policy is?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Variegated Threads, Continued

Last week I wrote about the discoveries made while working with variegated thread.  Knowing that most of you already knew all about and had vastly more experiences with this subject, I added what I was learning.  Every now and then, while standing in front of thread cabinets pondering my next purchase, I hear someone say, "Oh, I don't use variegated threads."  To me, that's like saying, "I don't use cinnamon."  I do understand that we all have differing tastes, but I can't help wondering if a few of those people don't use variegated threads because it intimidates them.  I hope they'll experiment some day if that is indeed the case.
Anyway, here is the completed snowman. All I have left to stitch are the tongues (aka pen wipes) that will be attached on the left and right and the backing. I hope hesitant stitchers will try variegated threads because I had such a ball stitching this little piece! 
The pattern had some elements that I changed.   I redesigned the snowflakes on the body of the snowman. Oh, and those irregular squarish coal-for-buttons? Glued on and then secured with honking-big French knots and single-strand black embroidery floss for coal-nugget eyes and smile. A more noticeable change was the branches that are the snowman's arms.  They are supposed to have green leaves, but that didn't seem right.  It's winter!  So my branches are from an evergreen and have needles and pine cones (one strand beige and one strand darker brown in French knots) .  The black bird is a red one singing with spread wings.  

Below you can see what I did with the carrot nose.  I had discussed using the thread to indicate the ridges in the carrot, and it worked well - makes it look more, well, carroty!   Fortunately,  I was able to find some appropriate buttons in my button collection to add that missing little something to the stars.  By the way, here you can see what I meant when I mentioned how subtle the variegation often is in Valdani threads (which I used on the stars).

This sort of folk art piece is a wonderful place to try new threads in an obvious way.  Clearly, it gave me a lot of pleasure.  I'm about to start a new piece where the thread choices will be more subtle.  It will be interesting to compare the two pieces. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quilt Mystery

As I was looking for a particular photograph in my files today, I came across three from the Gilbertsville Quilt Show I had wanted to share with you. Here they are with the description and attribution first:
Now the pillow cover.  Isn't it amazing?  Have you ever seen anything like this technique?  I believe I know how it is made, but I wish I could have seen the back to be sure.

The next two are close-ups.  Can you figure it out?

Just imagine the time it took to collect all these fabric snippets.  Or do you think there was an exchange among the local women so they could all make one of these pillow covers without collecting for years?

It looks like a Crazy pillow, doesn't it!