Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Surprises along the Way

Yesterday I didn't take my only opportunity to snap a photo of our new front door light so I did today.  Do you see the surprise in the picture?  I knew it was there but refused risk another day without sharing the new lantern.  It may seem like a small thing, but you have no idea how much I disliked the original one!


Here is the back of the garage with the new siding all the way up to the roof line.  It makes this part of the house look very big to us.  Can you figure out what the surprise is in this photo?  Well, I can understand if you can't.  Look at the open doorway that leads into the garage.  Look all the way through; see another doorway?  That's our neighbor across the street's doorway!  Pretty red door, don't you think?

And the final surprise for us is in the photo below of the nut shells that D found in the back yard.  It won't mean much to you, but D and I think they are from the butternut tree his dad gave him to plant several years ago.  If we are right (and there are no other nut trees around), this is the first year the butternut has borne fruit.  Quite special as the tree is not only a gift from his dad; it is also a memory of having to shell these nuts (very, very hard to do)  when he was young and worked on a local estate in his hometown (part of the Butternut Valley).  

I will leave you for a while with these pleasant surprises as we will be without access to our computer for a while.  Hope your surprises are fun, too!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Construction: Unexpected Consequences

Sorry about yesterday.  No good reason for not writing; the time simply got away from me.  Today was a beautiful day which continues to make working outdoors possible for our construction crew.  As a result, a new roof went on the family room so I think they will be able to get back to the siding tomorrow.  And the electrician made me a very happy woman by mounting the new outdoor light by our front door.  I didn't take a photo because I wanted to wait until he had the light on the garage, also.  Too bad he won't be working tomorrow; had I known I wouldn't have waited.  Oh well.

But today we were hit by another one of those "unexpected consequences" of construction.  I mentioned that we had to move all furniture away from the windows, but I didn't talk about have to take things off shelves. There's a very real danger of them falling off due to the vibrations of the men hammering.  Talk about trying to find safe places to put things!

What we decided was to continue with our usual rotation of "collections" by putting the things we'd taken down away.  Fortunately, we have been thinning and getting rid of collections, but one of them hasn't been touched.  One of our first collections (and the only one on which we spent money in the lean first years of marriage) was kerosene lamps.  I've always loved glass, antique kerosene lamps were inexpensive at the time, and they appealed to both of us.  Until recently I'd managed to clean things that were out on shelves with a certain amount of regularity, but with retirement and the time to spend on painting and quilting, dusting simply hasn't been a priority.  Boy, were those kerosene lamps covered with dust  (and construction was only partly to blame).

Even I couldn't bear the thought of packing dirty kerosene lamps so here they are - drying on the kitchen table unexpectedly clean. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

More on Construction

In the week since I last wrote about our construction project, a lot has been done.  First of all, thanks to the wonderful weather we've had, the men have been concentrating their energies on the outside.  The inside of the house can be done at any time, but things like siding and roofing can be done only when it's dry weather.

D and I second-guessed ourselves several times in choosing the siding color, and that's quite unlike us.  However, we had selected a gray that, after seeing it on another home, we felt was too light.  The original color of our house was "Pewter", a light gray with brown undertones, and no one believed us when we said our house was gray.  This time we wanted it to be obvious to all.  On top of that, our next door neighbors recently took off their blue siding and chose - you guessed it, gray.  So we selected a gray two shades darker than the first one we chose and hoped the samples were accurate.  They weren't, but we both like this gray very, very much and it isn't the same as the neighbor's.  Whew!  By the way, all the windows you see here are new, and we love them, too!

Back to the studio.  It is all drywalled and taped.  Ceiling lights have the cans in (all 14 of them!), floor registers in place, outlets set, and outlet for cable and phone ready.  Below you can see the man who works on the taping applying a second coat.  Love his stilts, but I'm glad I don't have to use them!

And here is the only art work I've completed in quite a while.  In case I haven't described it in an earlier entry, it is a study that began as a simple pencil drawing on regular drawing paper.  Then I decided I really needed the water color practice including trying out some of the tricks of the trade (in this one, using a sponge to apply paint - I'd used a sponge before but to remove paint in the background of the peppers painting).  Then I reasoned it would also enable me to work on light-on-glass.  So here are four garlic chives in a glass vase.  I did go in and touch up the blossoms with some ink when the paint was dry, but it's a study not much more.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September Quilt Camp - Last Entry

If you weren't sure what a quilt camp is when I started this series of entries, I'll bet that by now you're saying, "Oh, she's talking about a retreat for quilters", and you are correct.  Three days from 9:00 A.M. to 12:00 midnight (give or take a few hours depending on personal endurance levels) spent sewing, chatting, shopping, and eating and pretty much in that order with no interruptions for laundry, food preparation, runs to the pharmacy or dry cleaners, no calls from family members in need of services or comfort, and no taking out the trash is absolute bliss.  So for me, taking a week to revisit my friends through their quilting projects is a pleasure.  Today I will include the rest of my photographs and thank all the quilters who cheerfully allowed me to invade their peaceful space last weekend.  You are all good sports as well as great quilters.   

This scrappy quilt was made by P (this is the first one of hers I've shown this week - there were several P's!).  Initially she put up only one block - a teaser for all of us as it was splendid.  The pop of colors in that single block kept us entranced all weekend.  She told us that it was her turn for a quilt, and so she decided to make a red, white, and blue quilt in honor of Flag Day (June 14th) which happens to be her birthday.  She also didn't want it to be overly "flaggy" or what I would call "blowzy patriotic". Choosing to use a red, white, and blue jelly roll as well as a scrappy pattern were super choices to my mind.  Both result in bits of fabric that maintain the color choice but diminish the amount of symbolism to a graceful whisper.  I'd love to hang this one up in my home in June as I have been looking for a restrained patriotic quilt for some time.  Love this one, P!

And L of "dupioni skill" does it again.  This is one that looks far more difficult than it is.  What counts here is the workmanship that makes it look far more complicated, the fabric choices that enhance the design, the choice of gold iron-on bias tape, and the ability to stitch it all so it looks as though it took four times as long as it did.  I like the architectural nature of this piece, and it's another book I'll have to look for.

This is another one by Laura and she experienced some frustration in her first hours of working at it.  This is a case of teaching by example.  Laura had this wall hanging almost completely stitched (or possibly she had it finished, I'm not sure) when she took a step back to look at her work.  When she did, she decided she really didn't like the way it looked, took it down, un-sewed the whole thing, rearranged it, and then sewed it all over again.  What I mean by saying "teaching by example" is that she showed everyone that quilting is worth the time it takes to get it right.  If she hadn't done that, she'd never be able to look at this quilt again and now she has a knock-out piece.  I have never seen this fabric line before, and I would do almost anything to get my hands on some or all of it.  How could I have missed it?  This is a keeper, Laura!

Here is a pinwheel block made by ME over the weekend.  Let me assure you that it is not the only thing she did!  She spent the entire weekend working on this wedding gift for a niece.  As it is to be a queen sized quilt that will travel with ME to the Southwest in November, she was determined to get it finished.  After making almost all of the blocks, she had to decide on the setting.  Her first choice was to set the blocks so they formed stars . . . too complicated, too much margin for error.  Then she thought she'd just use the tried and true and drop the idea of special shapes.  And finally, she chose the pinwheel setting.  It was probably easier and faster than the stars, but it wasn't a walk in the park, either!  Any which way you look at it, it's a beauty!

Then there's mine.  I started quilting in 2006-2007 which is when this Block of the Month was introduced.  Called "Women's Voices" it was based on the history of women on the Home Front during the Civil War.  When I saw this quilt hanging in a quilt shop, I fell in love with the story behind the quilt and signed up for it.  I had no idea what a BOM was.  I had no clue how to sew these blocks together.  But I bought all of the blocks and carefully put them away.  In the sorting-through-"stuff" that I had to do as a result of the construction, I came across this BOM which, wonder-of-wonders, was all together.  All those plastic envelopes were present and accounted for.  Since most of my sewing and painting materials are scattered and/or packed until A.C. (After Construction) and since Quilt Camp was coming, I decided to cut the blocks out and make this my QltCmp project.  I determined I would make two of almost every block: one with the fabrics that came with the BOM, and one with fabrics of my own choosing.  Well, as you can see, I decided to make four of the flag block (I've also cut out four of the Schoolhouse block).  So I'm already making a bigger quilt than intended.  What a surprise!  Since I already have a sampler quilt in my Farmer's Wife quilt, I may use this one in whatever size it decides to be as a donation quilt.  

The rest of my time I spent either re-cutting errors made with the above (it's amazing how distracting construction can be!) or sewing blocks for another project.

If any of you have comments about the works you have seen here, please leave a comment for us to share.  If you were at Quilt Camp, and I missed your work this time, I'm sorry.  Please catch my attention next time we're in a similar situation.  

Until then, happy stitching to all of you!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quilt Camp - Fourth Visit

Before I  begin describing more of the work that was accomplished this past weekend at Joyful Quilter, I must apologize for my error in yesterday's entry.  That wonderful Train-themed lap quilt was made by S (I did get it correct when I showed you the very beginning of that quilt) not "B" as I said yesterday.  My apologies for shorting you your glory, S!

Now, the first work of the day is a marvel of L's quilting expertise and of dupioni.  If you look back, you will see that L made the pink baby blanket/quilt and the kimono quilt.  Today's offering is only one block not an entire quilt.  When she arrived at Quilt Camp, L had only the four smaller sections of this block sewn  and she had to sew them together to form this complete block.  Photography can't capture the way the light plays with this piece.  First you have the luster of the dupioni (which is a slubbed silk for those of you who aren't familiar with it), and second you have the three dimensionality caused by folding that silk.  And again, the silk in this block is all the same color; the apparent color changes are merely the way it reacts to light.  It's such a beauty that we are hoping that L will be willing to offer a class in its construction at some time and some place when and where we all can take it.  By such a time we might be able to afford the dupioni!

Quilter D made this wall hanging in a class on Hawaiian applique held at Joyful and brought it with her as another machine-quilting piece.  This was the only the second one she machine pieced herself (the first was the child's quilt in Monday's entry).  It's unfortunate that you can't see the quilting, but you can appreciate the design and the fabrics she selected.  I really liked her break from tradition with this piece; it's Hawaiian applique all jazzed up.

Do you remember the Dr. Seuss child's quilt I showed you?  Here is a very different take on asymmetry that works very well.  This is another of M's triumphs.  It looks very simple (and indeed, is an easier bit of sewing than is often required), but don't let that fool you.  Sometimes easy things offer different challenges. Here, for example, you have to find a way to restrain your human impulse to create patterns and instead allow the strips to fall where they may.  It's something I find very hard to do yet it is the randomness that makes this a striking piece.  That, and the unexpected direction turn of the last strip of blocks running down the left side of the quilt.

G, of Yellow Brick Road fame, showed us all the way to get some holiday gifts made in a hurry.  Here are two wine bottle bags she whipped up.  I loved the fabrics she selected, but not as much as I loved the fact that she was able to find a wine bottle to stuff in the bag so we could get the finished effect!  In the center photo below, you see the lining of the second bag just as she was getting ready to turn it right side out.  It's a clever construction complete with the ribbon. 

Then, not content to rest on her laurels, she quickly made a holiday place mat which she plans to be one of several.  This is a lady who will be truly ready for the holidays by November first!

P, who made the Dr. Seuss pieces, also had this French Braid with her.  All that needed doing was a bit binding - oh, yes, my favorite part of quilt making - not.  However, I liked this quilt when the French Braid books first came out and I still do.  But oddly enough, not only have I not made one but also I haven't even bought fabrics to stash away for one!  P's lovely version reminded me to put it on my list.  By the way, P used the Eleanor Burns method for making this quilt complete with cutting template.  And she sewed the binding on!

It wasn't only sewing over the weekend.  We did take time to appreciate the weather.  I even went out the back door to take these pictures of the eerie light and dark sky.  Lots of dark sky in the first one and great branching on the left-hand side of the tree/

This second one is a slightly better composition but has lost some of the drama through cutting off the sky.

Imagine these colors in a quilt!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quilt Camp - Third Entry

There are still so many quilts to share with you that this may take all week!  We'll have to see.  The first one today is another favorite of mine (so many were!).  This is by L who did the sweet pink and white baby quilt I showed you yesterday.  It is a kimono quilt that isn't terribly difficult to do, but one does have to find fabric with an appropriately sized print that will work.  I think L did a great job on that front and the quilting works also.  Several of us are scurrying to find this old pattern; anyone out there have one and are willing to share?

Quilter's have more than mere talent.  Some are also very smart.  This next piece was done by M, and she told me that this year she was making bed runners as holiday gifts.  She was tired of making the usual candle mats, place mats etc.  I never thought of bed runners as an option!  M said she chose these colors because they are Christmas-y but generic enough with the yellow and the subdued reds and greens to be used during other times of the year.  Smart cookie!

Speaking of gifts, here are a pair made by another P.  First she made the charming off-set square wall hanging in Dr. Seuss fabrics, and then had the wonderful idea to present the quilt in a pillow case even though it is not a bed quilt.  Her reasoning?  Keeping fabrics in plastic is not a good idea so why not make a better storage container, put the quilt in it, and present it that way with an explanation?  Another well-executed good idea!

K took a break from her Civil War extravaganza (see the first two entries of this week) to make pillow cases also.  These two are for two of her great-nephews, and I had to show them because I just love the fabric with the fishes  The second one has all sorts of animals that will keep a child busy with I Spy games for a long time.

B finished this lap quilt for her husband; hooray!  She wasn't thrilled with it when she started it and didn't really change her mind until she saw the finished article up on the design wall.  Isn't it great?  She has two fabrics with large trains (one of which I own and plan to turn into another shirt for D), railroad track fabric, and ticket fabric, and other lovelies that well with the above.  B's friend P said she thought the material with the tracks on it would make a good collar for D's shirt and someone else said possibly cuffs, and the next thing I knew B was letting me take quite a bit of her scraps.  Quilters share at the drop of a pin! 

And the last quilt of the day is the result of a semi-challenge to Susan who was showing us how to use a new ruler and all the neat things we could make with it.  Someone suggested that since we all were encouraged to work and to complete UFO's that maybe instead of merely making a block or two using the new ruler, Susan should see if she could complete the sample during Quilt Camp.  The above is Susan's Ta-Dah moment; pretty neat, eh?

Anyone with comments or ideas or other notes to share, please do so!  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Quilt Camp Second Entry

Here is the first quilt made by MW.  The pattern that inspired her was in the Scrap Basket book by Kim Brackett, but I don't remember if it was Scrap-Basket Surprises or Scrap-Basket Sensations.  What is more important is that the sample in the book was so drab and lifeless that many quilters wouldn't see the promise in the pattern.  MW did, and here it is in all its metallic Christmas fabric splendor.  By the way, this quilt was constructed and quilted (by Diane at Joyful on her long-arm) in one day.  How's that for a "quilt in a day"?  Stay tuned for more pleasures from MW in coming entries.
This is a Yellow Brick Road (an Atkinson design) quilt that G said had been in her UFO pile for years.  For those of you who have been quilting for a while, you may recognize some of the fabrics in G's version and realize that she wasn't kidding us.  As this is done in one of my favorite color combinations and in such a versatile pattern, this is definitely a favorite. We were so glad to see G and her daughter-in-law who both travel a distance to join us, and sharing G's pleasure in having a finished project to share with us made it really special.

Having mentioned G, it is only fair that I show you some of L her daughter-in-law's work.  Much like MW (and Laura, too), L creates dazzling work and many different pieces in a short time.  Here is one of many she worked on over the course of the three days.  This is a baby quilt, very simple and very pretty.  L brought it with her this time to machine quilt it, and here it is on the table all pinned and ready for the machine.  By the way, that charming little wooden box?  That holds L's safety pins.  It's hard to see, but it is a lovely piece that really does the job with panache - just like L.

Finally, I'm going back to K whose incredible block I showed you yesterday.  Here it is again at the base of the "T" in the next photo which shows four others she has done for this quilt project.  Aren't they something?

I also promised to show you the pattern so you could see both what the quilt is called and the complexity of the completed project.  It's just perfect for you, my friend KM!  This one K is working on is a BOM kit that she's had for a while, but I bet the pattern itself is available somewhere for those of you who wish to add this to your list of historically themed quilts.  By the way, the blocks are intended to be different sizes.

Since we're talking about construction, back to what's going on at my house.  Here's the window you saw being hoisted up to my studio in yesterday's entry.  It is leaning against the side wall in front of the awning windows.

Another view of that large window (the largest in the room) from the outside looking up.  Comparing the standard sized door with the window should give you an indication of how large it is.  There is a lot of light in this studio!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Quilt Camp September 2013

Yes, the computer is back, and I do have a lot of photographs of construction, but those will come after this photo-journal report on the latest Quilt Camp at Joyful Quilter (and if you're a quilter and you've never been to a quilt camp, I strongly suggest you consider it!).  The reason for these entries (as there will be more than one) is to showcase the work of some of our local, dedicated artists.  And in case you've never read this blog before, I use initials not the names of the quilters.  If they wish to draw your attention to their work, they can, but I want to protect their privacy.

The first quilter represented did give me permission to use her name, and many of you know her.  This is the first quilt Laura worked on during our weekend stay.  It is a beauty that is familiar to several quilters out there, I know, as it is a popular one.  This is an especially good treatment of a traditional updated pattern and fabric selection.  Clearly Laura's work is excellent!  

Now this next quilt is different as is it in its very early stages of construction and in its very different style.  This is the work of a good friend, S, a member of the Island Sewvivors (a group of us who are usually in the same room during Quilt Camp), and you will see more of it as it progresses toward completion.  Unfortunately, I didn't write down pattern names so I can't share that with you for either Laura's or this one.  S told me this is a quilt from her UFO pile and has been promised to her husband.

Next is a child's quilt made by D as a quilt guild project.  It is destined to be a gift for a child, and D quilted it herself.  That was a first for her, and she is proud of her accomplishment as well she should be.  Oh, not only is it her first quilting attempt, she did it using a machine that is new to her.  Now that shows what my mother would call "intestinal fortitude".  Wait until you see the other pieces D made this weekend!

D's sister K showed up Saturday with the most amazing Block of the Month project I've seen in a long time.  This is a 9+" block that has close to 60 pieces (can anyone say, "Similar to Farmer's Wife blocks"? . . .    shudder).  Now for this quilt I can show you the pattern, and I will when I show some of the other blocks she has completed in this project.  Be ready for it - more "Intestinal Fortitude". 

That's where I'll stop for today, but as I've done before, throughout the week I'll be writing more about the work accomplished by some wonderful women this past weekend.  

I may even throw in a construction photo or two.  Oops, there's one now -

This is one of the three large windows that these three men hoisted up to the second story and through the window opening behind them into my studio.  Talk about heavy - whew!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Two Bits of Information

I have been frustrated the last couple of days with my inability to locate a particular photo I wanted to post.  Today I finally found it; it was still on my memory card because I hadn't uploaded it yet.  Okay, that was easy enough to rectify or so I thought.  However, I discovered that my memory card which went to China with us has decided its too tired to work any more.  Today I went to purchase D a flash drive, but of course that was before I discovered I need ed to buy a memory card, too.  I'm not sure when I will be able to run that errand, but in some ways it may not matter.  That is the first "bit" of information.

This evening D and I rearranged the computer room since the doorway to my new study may be cut tomorrow.  Naturally, that entailed moving the computer and printer along with a host of other things.  The critical issue is that the Time Warner cable will be in the workmen's way, and while I hope they can simply work around it, I'm not sure.  It may mean our computer will be down for a while, but since I don't know what can and what can't be done, I'll have to wait and see.  The worst case is that there may be no entries from me for a while.  That is the second "bit" of information.

I hope to be able to take photos again so I can continue the Chronicle of Construction and keep track of my paintings as they progress (I worked some more on the garlic chives and on one of the autumn woods paintings today) as well as any other activities I get myself into.

Stay well and happy!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bus Trip

Another day with a paltry entry.  ME and I went on a quilters' bus trip from Joyful Quilter to Calico Girls in Syracuse and Quilters Corner in Ithaca.  That required us to be at Joyful before 8:00 a.m. (keep in mind the late afternoon - evening wedding and festivities the day before), and I returned home twelve hours later.  It was a wonderful time full of the joys of the companionship of like-minded people, the beauties in the shops, the countryside and the weather, and the freedom from being away from the usual.

Such excitement has resulted in heavy eyelids and jaw-cracking yawns.  So a good night to you with hopes of more interesting details tomorrow.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Night after the Wedding

Today was the long awaited wedding day of A, ME's daughter.  Let me just tell you that it was a gorgeous afternoon, the bride was beautiful, the setting lovely, and the mother of the bride was radiant!

It's her story to tell you as she probably will through Facebook and in person so I'll only say that much before I toddle off to bed.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Shingles for the Roof

As tonight is the first meeting of one of the local quilt guilds and since I plan to attend, I am writing my blog early, and it will probably be shorter than I would like.  

Today the shingles arrived, and I had more darn fun admiring the trucks that haul building supplies and the incredible ability of their drivers to maneuver the loads.   These pictures are taken quickly and haven't been edited, so you will have to excuse their rough appearance.  

The driver had to move the lift mechanism from the load on the back to the one which was ours,  He made it seem easy.

 The first load went to the lower level of our roof.  This is the projection over the garage.

The second delivery went to the roof of the studio -

and the third one went to the main roof.  Again the driver surprised me.  In the photograph you can see the branches of one of our oak trees.  Much to my amazement, the driver would not extend the load any farther than you can see in the next picture.  He did not want to tear off the tree limb!  Nor did I, but I didn't have to say a thing.

The last picture show just how high they are and how sorry our poor house looks at this point.  It doesn't bother me; I keep looking at my studio and grin to beat the band.

Amusingly enough, one of the workers came to the back door this morning to tell me I might want to get my camera out because they had just laid down the first two rows of the under-shingle layer (don't you just love my familiarity with construction vocabulary?).  I did so, but the height and pitch of the roof didn't make for a clear view.  Doesn't matter.  They're enjoying my desire to chronicle every day's activities instead of finding me a botheration.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Roof and Trees

    The roof is on - from the driveway looking up

and from the backyard.  Looking at these two photos like this, you can now more easily see the difference in the size of the two windows.

Also, the new, gas dryer came this afternoon.  Once the plumber can come back, he'll be able to hook it up while he's running the duct work for the new room.

Since most of my day has been trying to keep D from overexerting himself on the first day of a nasty-no-good-feverish-achey kind of cold and also in waiting for various people to do what they need to do, I didn't get either my painting materials or my quilting projects out to work on.  However, I will post the two autumn paintings. 

 I just realized that I switched the paintings to the opposite sides when I set them up for their "photo shoot" this week.  Sorry, but I know you can tell which is which.(The one on the left is the one on which I made the mistake of painting my darks first.) 
Yesterday I began to paint in the mid-range tones over the light washes of last week.  I've been trying to work always on the one on the left first and then the one on the right.  That way, if I'm not happy with the way things are going on the left, I can change it when working on the right.  In the same way, if I like what I'm doing on the first one, I try to keep it similar on the second one. 
The woods with the dark, dark color received more attention yesterday, and I'm beginning to think it's time to take off the masking fluid that has kept the tree trunks covered for me.  Some of the trees are birches, but some are not.  I want to work in the gray/browns of the darker tree trunks before adding the darker shadows in the depth of the woods. 
We'll see if I can get any painting done tomorrow.