Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!

Do you remember the quilt I'd named "Good Morning Starshine!"?

When I posted a picture of it on Facebook, my darling niece admired it, and I decided it would be the gift for her upcoming wedding. For some reason, it got me to thinking about her dad (I wrote about all of that here) and after that, I started thinking of the quilt as "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!" instead of "Good Morning Starshine."

I gave the quilt to Karen and Craig recently with clear instructions that it was not to be hung on a wall, but rather to sleep under, make love on, or cover a table with (with laundering in between as appropriate).

Just look what Karen has done with it! I couldn't be more delighted!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Grandmother Morris and Row Row Row

Grandmother Morris came home from the machinist long enough to be bound and photographed and today she went off to her rightful owner: my dear Circle sister Joan, who came home from the hospital two days ago after being there for two whole weeks.

It was good to see Joan, and she was looking very good, considering all that she had been through. I know that heart surgery patients are put on blood thinners and feel a chill more easily than most people. Joan was in the new recliner her husband had bought her -- and it went perfectly with the quilt!

For someone who "doesn't buy kits," I'm inordinately pleased with "Row Row Row Your Boat," and am eager to give it to Nate when we see him in two weeks.

Tom tells me that Nate has moved into his new bed in his new room and adjusting well.

Cinco is due tomorrow. Nate was born one day after his due date. Let's hope Cinco follows suit!
I was so delighted with the quilting that Mary Ellen did for me, I needed to take a close-up picture and I like the way it turned out. Sailboats and waves.

Weekend plans include finishing the three batik blocks and then setting them aside until I can get the right batik for the triangles and, I hope, making a summer nightgown for Caroline -- I bought some bright seersuckery fabric a few weeks ago and haven't had the chance to get started.

Binding has begun on the Brian-Erin quilt. Their wedding is just three months away!



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cool Stars

You know how some blogger or another will say, "Oh, and while I was doing that, I found a whole set of blocks that I had no recollection of having!" and you think to yourself, "Yeah, right." I urge you to think that thought in the gentlest possible way, because it could happen to you. It happened to me tonight.

I was looking high and low (but obviously not high or low enough) for a bunch of pink and gray blocks I had been working on as a leader-ender months ago before I got bored with them. And found these gorgeous blocks! They are the yield of a swap from God Alone Knows When. We made 12" finished sawtooth stars with an interesting 6" block for the center. We used cool batiks and plain white. On discovering them tonight, I was delighted! I think they are gorgeous. There are two more, but they had some pink in them and didn't blend in quite as well as I would have liked. Seems I need to make three more blocks and I'll have the fixings of a nice top. I'm going to enjoy making those three blocks; I've fished out all  my cool batik scraps anddug out my Around The Block book and am perusing options. I think I'll set them on point with alternating squares, either white or batik to match whatever the side triangles are going to be. Oh, this is going to be fun!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pins and Needles

We're on pins and needles here, Near Philadelphia. Grandbaby Number Five, "Cinco," is due in four short days, and neither Joe nor I want to get very far away from our phones. Truth be told, I was hoping that baby would arrive over the weekend, in the middle of the night perhaps, and I would go out into the upstairs hall at White Oak at 3 a.m. and holler (a) "It's a girl!" or (b) "It's a boy!" Honna said she was sure people would forgive me. But I didn't get to find out . . . .

We'll be traveling to Richmond to meet this new little person soon after the arrival, and I have been busy binding Row, Row, Row Your Boat after getting it back from the machinist late last week. The quilting -- a sailboat and waves motif -- is spectacular. It will be fun to give it to Nate for his new big boy bed.

Last week I also bound Grandmother Morris. A Circle sister from church has been in hospital for two weeks and I know that after heart surgery, people are usually put on blood thinners and they are chilly much of the time. I thought Joan would like some Circle sister love to help her stay warm when she comes home. I'm just waiting to hear when.

Photos of both before long . . . .


Sunday, April 22, 2012

White Oak, April 2012

Our semi-annual getaway took place this past weekend, and not a minute too soon. Honna and I left home a little before three and pulled into the White Oak lot a little before five. Helen and Judy had just arrived and were unpacking. With the entire Executive Committee on site, the decision was made that the first order of business was to be a nap.  When we awoke, everyone except Kathy had arrived, the wine was open, and the weekend had begun.

Kathy came in just as dinner was ending, and it didn't take long for her to catch up. I worked on two projects and finished one to filmsy stage. It is the yield from a swap of blue, brown and creamy CW four patches and HSTs. Finishing at 90" in length, it doesn't completely fit on my design wall, but surely you get the idea. Please click on the photo to enlarge it so you can see the gorgeous fabric I found for the outer border.

Saturday morning Turbo and Suzan asked if I would be willing to take them out to the Log Cabin in Bird-in-Hand and they didn't have to twist my arm. When I go out to White Oak, I always like to stop at the BIH Farmers Market and get some cinnamon buns to bring home to Joe, and this was no exception. The fabric selection at LC is good and the prices are competitive; they even have one very large section of sale fabrics. Turbo and I each picked up a bottle of their wonderful goats' milk lotion -- I like to put it on my dry skin. It smells of marigolds.

When we left White Oak a little after noon, Honna and I decided to make a stop. Pat had long sung the praises of one Bitty Kinna fabric shop in Intercourse, famous for being the only thing open on a Sunday. Bitty Kinna did not disappoint and I predict will now be a regular stop for me when I go to Intercourse. It is a lovely shop, spacious and well-lit. She has fabrics that I've never seen anywhere else, probably because she doesn't have any Modas. (She doesn't need to; the Old Country Store is just steps away and they appear to have every Moda ever made IMHO.) Prices at Bitty Kinna are right in line with the rest of Lancaster County and Bitty herself is a delight.

It was wonderful to spend a weekend with nine other wonderful women, to experience Rob's great hugs and Carol's marvelous hospitality. And we return in just six more months . . . .

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Shape Workshop for Quilters: A Review

I've waited a long time for this book to come. I preordered it from Amazon when I first heard it was being published. Written by Katy Jones, Brioni Greenberg, Tacha Bruecher and John Q. Adams, the brains and energy behind the ezine and website Fat Quarterly, it arrived early this week, and I keep picking it up and picking it up.

Disclaimer: I have not been asked to review this book. I was not given a free copy. I am not being compensated in any way for writing about this book.

The strength of the book is in the design. It is divided into a half-dozen chapters, each featuring blocks and projects around a particular shape: squares/rectangles, circles, triangles, stars, polygons, and diamonds. Here's what is cool: Each chapter's graphics are done in a different color. And the fabrics used in that chapter match the graphics. For example, the triangles chapter is a kind of poison green, and the fabrics used in the blocks for that chapter are a variety of poison greens. I love this attention to detail.

The instructions for the blocks are clear and understandable. The blocks themselves (60 of them) vary in difficulty and familiarity. Some are apparently original creations by the authors. Many, however, are old familiar blocks: For example Owl in the Corner is simply the old Pussy in the Corner made from fabric featuring owls. And their Star Within a Star is our old favorite, Rising Star. All of the blocks are 12" finished.

Each chapter features a couple of projects, with yardage provided and very clear directions (at least they appear to be clear -- I haven't really tried following them yet). And the projects are nice, crisp looking and contemporary. In fact, all of the fabrics used in the book are contemporary. And gorgeous. There are templates in the back for projects that need them, and quilting basics instructions also in the back. And the covers of the book are made with folded-in placemarkers.

There's one quilt that I'm very, very eager to make. It is called Fast Forward/Rewind and is too new for any images to be googleable. So I suppose you must wait until I make it and photograph it. Or you could buy the book -- it is fairly priced at $14.48 through Amazon. It isn't mostly new things, but it is some new things and many old things considered in a new way. I'm happy that I bought it.


Monday, April 16, 2012

A Little Lemon Juice

On Saturday afternoon, Bonnie and I drove to the outskirts of Ambler to participate in the grand opening of the long-awaited new quilt shop near Philadelphia, The Round Bobbin.

It is a wonderful place. Large, uncluttered, room to walk around. Bright and beautiful. Two spacious cutting stations. A huge, well-lit classroom. Friendly, helpful staff. Charming furnishings and gorgeous samples. Pre-cut FQs here and there. Rulers and cutters and bears -- oh my!  batts. And a glorious selection of fabrics: batiks, contemporaries, solids, read-solids, Civil War, 30s; truly something for everyone. I loved it. I'll return. For sure.

But I must say that the visit got me to thinking: I don't remember when it was that shops stopped organizing fabrics by color and genre and started organizing them by line. And I so wish that they hadn't! I used to like finding a fabric and auditioning go-withs. It was fun to pull out three or four greens to coordinate with the green in the focus print, and agonize over which one was the right green.

I really prefer it that way. In recent years, I've been lured by the lines and made some quilts entirely from one line of fabric. Going Rouge is an example; I love this quilt. I really do. But I think I'd love it even more if it were not completely  made from the Rouenneries line. The same is true with some of the -- gasp -- William Morris quilts I've made. Fabrics made from one line of fabric are, to me, just too matchy-matchy. They need a squeeze of lemon juice or something to make them sing. Or zing. I've written on this theme before more than once.

I'm sure that shop owners have found that quilters will buy more fabric if it is displayed in lines, and they've got to make a living. But they've taken away a piece of the fun.

Challenge to self: Before 2012 is over, start a new project, and pick the fabrics the old way. Anyone else?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Well, My Intentions Were Good


It's 3 p.m. and I still haven't done anything downstairs except ironing 5 shirts. Does that count for anything?


Gotta Get Nominated!

When I was a teenager, my mother had a job as secretary to the maintenance department in our local hospital. She spent her day among the various specialists who kept the place running: not the cardiologist or the pulmonologist, but the carpenter, the electrician, the plumber. And it was a busy place. One of her "guys" was a wizard at carpentry and a terrific person. Tommy lacked any kind of formal education but adored long words and it was more important to him to be throwing them into the mix from time to time than it was to learn their meanings. His most famous expression was "All right, you guys, let's get nominated!" Clearly he was seeking organization, and nominated seemed to fill the need. Everyone understood what he meant, and the phrase entered the family vocabulary. More than fifty years later, my sister and I will speak of needing to get nominated.

Which is what I need to do today. My sewing space is so cluttered that I can't even move around in it, let alone do any meaningful cutting or stitching. The cutting table is piled with remnants of recent clothing construction, bindings, and god-alone-knows-what-else. Mixed in are some of the shirts that need ironing. The sewing table isn't much better. And then there is the floor, about which the less said the better.

Yesterday I had grand plans of "doing responsible things." I planned three hours nominating the studio. What I did, actually, was get my hair cut, sew on some crumb blocks, accompany DH to the farmers' market, visit the grand opening of the new quilt shop, play some on-line Scrabble, and get ready to go out to dinner with friends.

So today's the day. And it's not going to be easy. After church, we have to stop at the grocery store and then have some lunch. Family coming for dinner at 4:30. That will leave me about two hours of expendable time that I must spend down under. Or I'll hate myself in the morning.

Think it will happen?




PS: The photo above isn't mine. It was lifted from this blog. Which is a mighty fine blog. I can't do what Ann Brauer can do. But I certainly am filled with admiration!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Oh, Baby!

Our older son and his wife are expecting their second child before this month is over. That must be why babies are so much on my mind. I've been dreaming odd dreams that involve babies. And seeing fabric and thinking, "Now that would make a nice baby quilt."

I've already made a quilt for Cinco (yes, this will be our fifth grandchild and we don't know the gender) and given it to our dear DIL. But I continue to think about baby quilts.

Like the pattern on the left, for instance, which is a group of blocks that Marsha made. I don't know what Marsha's plan for these blocks might be, but don't you think that design would be darling for a baby quilt? I do. And, in fact, have picked up a couple of Aneela Hoey charm packs for just such a purpose.


Fortunately, there's a bit of a need for baby quilts at present. Besides Cinco, the strings teacher at school is expecting a girl (oh, perhaps the Marsha/Hoey quilt would be for her?) and another young friend is due in the autumn, and my friend from church has requested a baby quilt for the silent auction at the Oktoberfest.

Ever since I bought Emily Cier's Quilt Remix I've loved what she's done with the pinwheel block and wanted to do an interpretation of it. Prolly will mean -- gasp -- buying some fabric. But maybe not. What would you think about batiks and black for a [somewhat sophisticated] baby? With these pinwheely bubbles? Is that too bizarre an idea? Or should I hit The Old Country Store next weekend when I'm out at White Oak?  Brutal honesty is needed here. You know I don't want to shop unnecessarily!

In any event, get ready to see some baby quilts here in the next couple of months. And to read a Big Announcement when Cinco arrives!




Thursday, April 12, 2012

Update

So, on my way home, on the day after the oven and microwave joined the disposal and the dishwasher in the kitchen appliance medical / surgical ward, I picked up my car which had been in for Pennsylvania State Inspection and 60,000 mile check-up (the latter being premature as she only has 58,390 miles). New rear brakes and something about a transmission drip pan later, I was $832 poorer, and still had yet to hear what was happening in my kitchen. Turned out that someone at the fifth or sixth place DH called actually answered the phone and agreed to send someone out.

$627 later, the dishwasher and disposal have received organ transplants of various sorts. The oven / microwave are still in surgery and I know these surgeons don't come cheap. Some reader suggested scrapping the microwave and getting a new one; I'd neglected to mention that the oven/microwave is an all-in-one wall unit, so it wasn't that easy.

I believe my salary increase for the coming year is gone in the space of one day. Along with our [miniscule] tax refund.

Oh, well. Nobody died and nobody's sick and my tuition for the upcoming White Oak getaway is paid in full. And I have enough fabric to last me until the cows come home for a little while. Soon (and very soon) I'll be able to bake me some yellow cupcakes with strawberry frosting, which have been in my mind.

So be it. Life is still good. And will be sweeter by the weekend!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mooing in the Kitchen

It was early in the autumn that the dishwasher began to misbehave. Taking for ever to get through a cycle. Not getting things totally clean. Developing a hole in one of the silverware compartments. We sort of babied it along, pre-scraping more thoroughly, using the shortest cycle, and being careful with the cutlery basket. And didn't call the repair person. Alas, that was just the start of some dreaded virus that is spreading through our kitchen.

Next problem involved the disposal. It is the kind where we shove the debris down, turn on the cold water, and then hand-turn the cap to activate. Part-way through winter it developed an overly anxious syndrome of not shutting down when the cap was removed. Again, we didn't call the repair person, but learned to be careful, to wait the 7-15 seconds it would take to shut down after removing the cap.

Our appliances aren't that old. We remodeled the kitchen about ten years ago, and everything except the fridge was new at that time. Surely one can expect more than ten years from major appliances? The ceramic cooktop isn't that old -- we've already replaced it because it cracked when the cleaning lady stood on it (she is no longer our cleaning lady).

Push has come to shove, apparently. Yesterday when I got home, Joe told me not to try to use the microwave: it wasn't working at all. And he'd called the repairman. So I put the side dish in the oven and cooked the chicken on the indoor grill, and when we sat down to eat, the pasta concoction was still frozen in some places and tepid in the other, so the oven portion of the appliance is also ailing, in addition to the microwave.

Here's my moo, friends: What does one have to do to get appliances repaired? Joe phoned a repair place and instead of a real person, got an answering machine where he left a message. After three hours of no response, he called two more places and left similar messages.

It has been more than twenty-four hours now, and none of the three places has returned the call. So today he's calling two or three more, probably including the local appliance dealer whom we detest from an unpleasant experience back in the 80s (did we seem like the sort to hold a 30-year grudge?). And we'll see what happens.

I've got company coming for Sunday dinner. Just in case, I'm revising my initial menu to include London Broil on the grill, potato salad, beans in the crockpot, and mixed baby greens. Fortunately someone else is bringing the dessert.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Birdies

Are they not just precious and adorable? Their names are Silly Little Bird and Blue Bird of Happiness. I had seen them on Pinterest and was enchanted. Since I can't crochet or knit, I posted on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to do a trade, and my friend Blogless Ray in California was up for it. She made them out of yarn that she already had.

In exchange, Ray wanted a mug rug. Which I made. And which I will be mailing to her later today.

SLB and BBoH presently hang in the window of our  morning room. I don't know if that is a permanent location or now. But they brighten my morning. Daily.

Thank you, Ray!


Monday, April 09, 2012

Easter in Cape May

When I checked with Sherry to see if they were able to spend Easter with us, she said that they were going to be with her husband's family. His sister's adorable baby was being baptized. With my sister being out of town and the boys not planning to come up, we were on our own.

"Let's go to Cape May!" said Joe when I told him. I didn't argue.

We phoned The Mainstay and decided to stay in a room we've never used before, The Windsor Room, on the first floor of the cottage. I hadn't realized before that it had William Morris wallpaper.

I felt right at home.
We spent much of the weekend on the porch, either rocking or lounging on that wonderful swing. We read, we played games, we napped.

On Saturday we walked down the beach for many blocks, eventually arriving at a friend's house. She was outside looking for the Easter Bunny. I told her she was too early. She had been down for a few days and was getting ready to head back to Philadelphia. So we walked on

Later I roused myself from the porch and went shopping. Cheeks at the Beach has clothes that I love, and I spent more than I'd intended. And then went back again for one more thing.
We had some wonderful meals including two lovely breakfasts at the inn. Friday night we were fortunate to get a reservation at Louisa's and enjoyed a wonderful meal and chatted with some delightful folks.

Saturday we didn't want much for lunch, so we stopped at The Ugly Mug for some nachos. That night we went out to The Black Duck where Joe enjoyed a beautiful salmon preparation and I opted for the duck, pictured here. It was another wonderful meal.

I finished embroidering the second of a pair of bibs for "Cinco," grandbaby number five, expected within the month, won and lost some Scrabble games, and began reading Joe Blair's book, By The Iowa Sea, which is just wonderful.


And here are some photos of my favorite subject:




Sunday, April 08, 2012

Consolation

A short time ago, Carrie Nelson decided to have a give-away; she is so pleased with Fit To Be Geese rulers that she decided to give away a couple of pair. I don't enter every give-away opportunity that comes along; it has to be something that I really want and think I will use. I'd heard so much about FTBG rulers that I knew I wanted to enter.

Turns out two other fortunate people won the pairs of geese. But generous Carrie decided to give away some single rulers -- kind of as a consolation prize. And I got an email from her offering me one if I wanted it. Did I?  Silly question.

We were away for the weekend and when we got home this afternoon, Himself went out to collect the accumulated mail. There was a fat USPS envelope for me. "What's this?" he wondered. "Oh! It must be my ruler!" "It feels mighty thick and soft for a ruler." We were both right. It was, indeed, my Fit To Be Geese ruler. And a pair of charm packs. And a needle liner-upper thinger (something else I didn't know how much I needed until it arrived!). And a Schnibble of my very own!  And a quilter's pocket journal!A most wonderful Consolation Prize.

And, friends, I am consoled!  Thank you, Carrie, so very much!

And since we were out of town, it is prolly a good thing George Clooney wasn't available to hand deliver it. I would have been inconsolable had I missed him.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Possibilities

In the early part of last winter, we swapped four patches and HSTs made from CW blues, browns, and shirtings. Oh, the variety that came in was just marvelous! We were initially working from a pattern we'd seen that used the layout in the small center block. Then it occurred to me that these elements can got together in a bunch of different ways. There are a couple more in my head that aren't on the wall.

So with the guild challenge in flimsy form and off my wall, tonight I began trimming the HSTs and pressing the units and playing around with layouts.  And now I'm more uncertain than ever! I think I'm leaning towards the small block on the right. Anyone out there have a strong preference that she wants to share?


I've had this little graphic on my desktop for a few weeks just because I like it. Tonight I thought it warranted wider distribution. I spend most of my waking hours working in a place where difference is celebrated, not feared. Gay and straight kids alike observe the annual Day of Silence. We gather weekly in the Meeting House for Meeting for Worship and I understand that this week everyone who is so moved will be wearing a hoodie. I'm so proud of the place I work, that this is not only permitted, but encouraged.

I wish that everyone had the opportunity to explore difference in a healthy way, to respect and not recoil. Our littlest kids know how to sing "This Little Light of Mine" and it occurs to me that if we expect our students to take what they've learned out into the world to begin to make a difference, then this blog is where my little light can be seen. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.


Guild Challenge Project

Well, I worked almost all of Sunday on the guild challenge piece and it has reached flimsy status. All I need to do is even the sides and then make the sandwich and quilt it. It is due in October. I started early because, as I said previously, I don't care for the fabrics (either the color or the feel of them) and wanted to get it done and not have it hanging over me all summer.

The rules for the challenge were to make a wall hanging no smaller than 12" on the shortest side and no larger than 36" on the longest side. This finishes at about 30" per side. Each person brought a paper bag with scraps from one project. We were permitted to add one dark and one light if we wished. I added the creamy fabric for the side triangles and the brown used in the large pinwheels. All four blocks came from Piecemeal's basket project.

I'm relieve to have it this far along. I'll start hand quilting it later this month.



Sunday, April 01, 2012

What's Going on Near Philadelphia

In the past couple of days, I've been in three different fabric emporia. On Friday, Bonnie and I drove out to Jo-Ann's where I bought a pattern and two pieces of crinkly cotton, kind of seersuckery, in bright colors to make two nightgowns, size 4T. Then there was yesterday, more about which in a couple of paragraphs.

I thought you might want to see the progress on my Dresden Plate project. I mentioned earlier that I'm doing the blades as leader-enders. Here's the tub of accumulated blades. I've no idea how many I've made or how many more I need. But I continue!

Here's the progress I've made so far on the dreaded guild challenge project. With the fabrics I received, that were so not me, I thought and thought for a month or two. Then I knew what to do: I went to visit Piecemeal, who would never let me down.

I perused the baskets from a couple of years ago and thought, "When in doubt, go with baskets." So I've picked four of her gems (including, of course, the one she named for me!) and have got two of them made. I had the bottom one ready to put up on the wall and -- AAARGH! -- two elements were sewn in backwards. And so a-frogging I would go, and after about 27 minutes of pick pick pick, the two were out and pressed (and not stretched!) and reinserted.

It is so hard to work with fabrics that I don't care for. Especially when there are other things I would rather be doing.

Such as diving into the contents of these two bags -- one from Sauder's and the other from Burkholder's, the yield of a meeting of the Executive Committee yesterday. The four of us left promptly at 10:30, with Judy and me picking Helen and Honna up where the snowdrift used to be. An uneventful hour later we pulled into Sauder's where there were some newbies in the parking lot, trying to figure out where to go in! I picked up batts for my three charity quilts and a couple of yards of a couple of things from the flat-fold table. Then, following a deeply satisfying lunch (including carrot cake with four forks ["I'm an icing person," Honna pointed out rather obviously]), we were off to Burkholder's with our coupons. We returned tired and penniless (and thankful for E-Z Pass!) late in the afternoon, not only heavily laden with bags of fabric, but confident that many of the world's problems had been resolved by our four fine minds.