Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Looking for good reads

There is little I love more than a good book. I've gone through several "must read" book lists (USA Today's, NPR, and the NYT Book Reveiw) trying to get togher a stash for all my traveling this summer. I know is isn't like I'm going to a country that doesn't speak english but books are something like a comfort blanket...I like to have a couple on the side. Sort of like hiding enough money in my car to fill the tank with gas or to buy lots of Dunkin Donuts Coffee....

So any suggestions? I love mysteries, good sci-fi, and even current events. I just finished The Bookseller of Kabal(really good), The First Man in Rome by Colleen mcCullough (this is a reread from several years ago and I still like it), Longitudes and Attitudes by Thomas Friedman (aferwards I reread the Harry Potter series...Friedman is intense and not optomistic...I needed some fantasy in my life after that book), and Dragon's Lair by Sharon Kay Penman (braincandy...a good beach read!)

About the only things I don't read are horror (alright an occasional Stephen King, but just becuase I like his writing style) and romance.

The quilt top in the photo was mixed in with my 1930's repros...go figure. I made it during our move to Georgia a few years ago. I had a lot of oriental fabrics left over from making jackets and had seen something like this done in Idigos. I like the simplicity of the circles. The fabric really takes on center stage in this quilt.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Late night quilting...

Picture this...all the closets are emptied and the contents stacked sort of neatly in various corners of the all has a funny little red, green or yellow sticker on it...bathroom walls are primed but not painted...and every inch of the kitchen counters is covered with slightly damp glassware packed so tightly you only vaguely make out the colors of the towels beneath them. That is my house this afternoon. What am I spending my evening doing? Sewing.

One or two hours isn't going to make a differance. I'll either be ready in June or they'll pack all our junk up and I'll deal with it them. Besides, while sorting books I came across one of my favorite Kaffe Fasset's and since my sister dropped the hint that she would like a more modern blue quilt (preferably a courthouse steps) I've had it in the back of my mind to start working on it. Of course the responsible part of me was whispering, "you are in the middle of a move, you've complained non-stop about all the half finished projects and quilt tops your are packing...what are you thinking!" (Note a sort of panicy whineyness to my conscience - at this point I had alread grabbed an armload of blue fabrics from the bookcase. Evil-quilter-me was winning, "there must be a reason I haven't packed the blues yet, Tonya says I shouldn't overdo it with the packing, and K is a good sister." Woops, the basket it now full of 2 inch strips...

Anyway, I've finished a half-doen blocks only using fabric from the theory - it doesn't take up any more space as a top than it does as just fabric. So K may have her courthouse steps after all. I'm also leaving an antique crip quilt from the turn of the century with her...also court house steps.

Just wanted to point out a new blogger that you may want to visit. Anne at Quilting Bebbs is from England and does some really beautiful applique and some fun quilts.

Now back to work....

Another finish!

Yes, more 1930's reproduction fabric from the same dark corner of the closet! I think I won the blocks at a guild raffle several years (and states!) ago. Setting blocks like these can be a challange. There isn't any one color to tie them together and the needed something to break up the white. I opted for varied sashings with yellow cornerstones (but different yellows!) There is a double border with 4-patch cornerstones on the outside. The quilt top is starting to grow on me.

The weather turned brutally hot today. I am not a hot weather person at all! Worse I wasn't prepared at all! During the summer I almost always leave the house with a fozen bottle of water in my bag or car. More often it is used as a cold compress than to drink. Since it is early in the season I'm not back in the habit yet so today was tough.

I'm hoping to get a few hours of sewing in tomorrow. I guess it finally dawned on my DH that we needed to do some work around the house before moving (shock and awe!!) so I'm sure I will not get near my quilting room on Saturday or Monday!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

One becomes three - not bad for me!

I know I asked what would you bring if you could only have one project for a month...I've revised the question to read "one box of projects" for one month. much easier. No more Quilting equivalent of Sophie's Choice! I have three projects in my box and still have space for a bit more!

First, I've been working on a Carpenters Wheel quilt based on one in my collection from the 1838's. The photo is of the original. (With my cat Goldie who insists on being in almost every photograph!) Anyway, the quilt is from Maryland. There is a stamped signature block in one corner with the initials M.A.Shriver or Shriner. The center has the month and date embroidered on the quilt with a star in the center. The brown fabrics are very fragile but the muslin and the indigos are like iron..still strong and holding their color! I waited a long time starting on this quilt hoping to find the perfect fabric for the border...well I finally just started on the blocks keeping the faith that the fabric would find me! I am hand piecing the blocks so this makes a great carry along project. I've cut fat quarter of the various repro fabrics and just bring a couple yards of white and I'm set for project #1 and still only filled the box halfway!

The next project is a hand applique - the Mary Manakee (sorry about the spelling Finn!) quilt from DAR. I'm doing it in the Moda red and greens. (Photo at a later date.) The next project is of course my English paperpiecing! I've posted photos before and will again...the problem with this project is I don't know when to stop! It started as a wall hanging. It grew to a a lap quilt. Now it is somewhere between lap and twin. I don't have a twin bed so...

Enough for now...the Yankees and the Red Sox are at it again. Yes, I am a Red Sox Fan...the Yankee in my sign-on is a sign of my being south of the Mason-Dixon line too long! They think anyone who "Ya'll handicapped" is a Yankee regardless of who your "people" are!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

When did this happen

Sometime in the past few years I must have had a real 1930's fetish...only I don't remember it?! I knew I had picked up some of the fabric for a donation quilt and made a few baby quilts but as I pack they just keep appearing! This around the world was done from squares traded on an internet exchange from before I moved to Georgia so I'm guessing...1995!? Why didn't I finish it?I have no idea.

I found a smaller version of the same quilt...a project for a silent auction maybe? At least 6 years old...not quite sure. There are at least four other tops, a box of blocks and a case of "less than fat quarter" pieces. Reproduction fabrics I have bags full. I just didn't think of the 30's fabrics as something I had hoarded! I guess as I'm cleaning out the closets I'm learning a bit about my own "quilting past."

In ohter DH and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary yesterday. We went to dinner and watched the final episode of 24 while the Boston/Yankees Game was in the small screen. Thankfully the Red Sox won!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Rent vs. Sell

Well if my quilt room looks bad to quilters you can imagine the face on our Real Estate Agent when she got a look at it! I had wanted to wait a few more weeks but since this is the hight of moving season (and my DH was getting Antsy) I just swallowed my pride and had her come over.

It was a good meeting. My DH and I decided to rent the house out for lots of reasons...mainly because it gives me a sense of security to know we have someplace to come back to if something happens. Getting sick has made me such a wimp!!! Besides real estate in our area is a good investment and we are on a good piece of property (no on can build in back of us.) Also it is very story and an open floor plan.

The trouble is about every other day my DH changes his mind. Yesterday it was rent, definatly drives me crazy! I have a Masters in Finance, his degree is in History. I've done the numbers over and over again. Have I mentioned he is driving me cazy!! So I end up having to pull the just makes me feel better card to end the conversation.

Moving is soooo much work. I know I keep whining about it...slap me...I need to stop! Anyway, three more bags of bad clothes and high heeled sandels (what was I thinking!!) The more room for fabric!

The quilt top is a Grandmother's Flower Garden from the 1930's. I really like how the maker fussy cut the stripes. It is in perfect condition except it wasn't finished...I have to add 6 hexagons to one side before I quilt it! Think I will do this one by hand.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

If you could only take one...

If you could only pick out enough fabric or projects from your stash to fill one tote bag knowing that it would have to keep you buzy for 6 weeks, what would you pack? That folks is my latest dilema! I will be in-between homes for about 6 weeks and most of the space in the car will be taken up with a few suitcases and three pet carry-alls! Basically the entire back-seat will be devoted to the cats and Macbeth! I initially put aside what I thought was a reasonable project pile...think more like a stuffed army duffle bag! So, not going to work. Add this to my knowing I will visit several really fun fabric places on my drive up North (ie. Mary Jo's in Gastonia, G street fabrics in Rockville, Seminole Sampler in Catonsville.....) and at each one of them I will say, "I may not be back for two long years so I will treat myself to _______ (fill in the blank!)

When I travled for work almost every week I was a fanatic about only packing what I could easily carry through an airport. If my flight was cancelled I was the first one running to the next counter lookig distainfully at the folks flagging down porters or lumbering along like pack animals. This trip I am afraid I will resemble a small donkey with many, many bags piled on top, on the side, and maybe even kicking in front of me! Porters are sounding like a really good option!

The quilt is an orange peel from 1930-ish. It is Queen size and has some really fun fabrics in it. I bought it at an estate auction in the early 90's. Originally I loved this quilt now...I'm not sure why but I'm not as excited by it. It may go to one of my nieces instead of traveling with me....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Taking time to simplify

I never really considered myself materialistic (aside from the obvious huge stash of material/fabric!) That is until I started packing. Why do we have 4 computer printers? Where did all these wool suits come from (and when was the last time a size 8 woman lived here anyways!) I'm finally getting brutal. If it can be easilty replaced and it doesn't have any sentimental value...out it goes. Gone are the office christmas presents that are still packed with the holiday ornaments. I am banishing the fish plates of my husband's first wife. Say goodbye to the promotional briefcase with my maiden name embossed on the side. I am on a roll....

The quilt top in the photos is going into storage. It was another ebay purchase by my sister. It is too fragile to quilt and the stains will never come out. (I did try and now there is only one option...a sissors!) If the fabric was in better condition I would have taken the blocks apart and cut out the stains from the border making a slightly smaller quilt. I'm keeping it only because it has some truely great examples of indigo...and because I like the pattern. It is in my someday pile!

A few folks had questions about where we are moving. Eventually we will be in the Cotswald area of England. I will leave the southern US in early July and head up to New England to spend a few weeks with my family. (And maybe get to the quilt exhibit at the Shelbourne in Vermont!) We leave for England in early August. I've decided to take the "bring it all" approach. (For all read fabric...I just gave away my husband's old recliner. Old recliners and excess golf clubs do not equal all!)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Taking a break

I really did overdo it yesterday. Last week my doctor started me on some new meds to help with concentration. Other than an upset tummy they are working great...a little too great. As she told me once before when I complained after working a 12 hours day, "these pills gives you energy not common sense." She is tough!

An unexpected bonus this time however - my eyesight has cleared up! The past year my eyes have been as wonky as one of Tonya's houses! They can't give me glasses because my vision changes almost daily! Instead I bought a dozen reading glasses of varying streaghths (a co-worker thought it was a vain fashion statement! me fashion?!) Last night I picked up some applique to work on while wathcing TV and it hit me...I could see the stiches - and no, it is not because I take really big stitches! What a treat!

My DH surprised me with a new Star Trek Time Travel collection. What a great concept! It has episodes from all but the last series with the common thread being time. The episodes were voted on by fans. We watched one last night...I forgot how obvious the makeup on Spok's ear's was!! It was fun all the same.

Anyway, this morning I finally finished reading Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood. She is one of my favorite writers and I had been holding off on reading it so I would have something to look forward to. I like having 2-3 books "on reserve." These are books are pretty sure I will like so I hold them for times I really need a good escape. There are references to quilting and quiltblocks in the book though not as a central themes. It is not my favorite Atwood but I would still recommend it.

Well guess I should go back to the boxes soon...I wish I knew a quilter in England (where we are moving) so I could make better decisions on what/how much of my quilting room to bring. Each time I put something aside to either go into storage or to leave behind I have these tiny (or not so tiny) panic attacks! I emailed a store in the town I will be living but didn't get a response. I checked the internet for a guild but didn't see one anywhere close. Any suggestions?

ps. The quilt in the photo is a very rustic princess feather made in western Maryland. I bought it about 12 years ago at a flea market. It reminds me of the Red Wagon designs! It is heavily quilted and very soft.

Where does it all come from...

Today was yet another sort and pack sounds like everyday is for me but to be honest I only have about 2 hours of really good physical work a day in me. Not that what I packed to day could be called heavy was my miniature/dollhouse "stuff." In the end there is more packing materials in the box than anything else! I also cleared out one closet. So one more bag goes to Goodwill, I added more to the Quilters free for all pile, and now have space to seperate items for the "fast" shipment, things to go into storage are getting red tape, things for my stepson have blue dots on them, and the rest just goes! It sounds more organized than it really is!
I am taking lots of photos though. Over the next few days I'll post some of the antique quilts that are being aired out and will be refolded next weekend. I had to order fresh acid free paper today on the internet along with a few more boxes. Anyways, it gives me a chance to enjoy them for a few days. Since I seem to be on a Log Cabin streak here I am posting a top a bought in Gettysburg about 10 years ago. I originally bought it to use some of the fabric to repair another quilt but the top is in perfect condition and at the same flea market I found a box of old fabric that had the exact match to the damaged quilt. So now this quiltop is used under the Christmas tree! The pink, red, and yellow takes some getting used was very popular in Pennsylvania around 1900. It has grown on me!

Goldie, my cat, is great about keeping me company whenever I am working with my quilts...I guess today was too much for her!

Friday, May 12, 2006


What a wicked week! Rarely am I so happy to find out it is Friday! Other than a trip to the Farmer's Market I am not planning on anything for the next two days. Between doctor's appointments, real estate appointments, meeting with the movers, and way too many telephone calls to list my general life maintanence tasks have slipped to an all time low! As it works out the doctors' appointments only lead to more doctor's appointments, the real estate agents was more interested in selling our house then helping us rent, the movers couldn't come any of the days we had planned, and cat knocked the phone off the counter and now I have to go out and buy a new one with only 2 months left in this country! I needed one more thing to do!

Since my last post was of my log cabin I thought I'd include this photo of an antique log cabin quilt I picked up 10 years ago in Pennsylvania. I love the pinks and indigos. The setting of this quilt is what got me going on the other...this quilt is about 66x65. The strips are 1 inch...give or take! This quilt is very calming.

DH is off playing golf so I may just go and play in the quilt room for a few hours and forget about packing and planning and responsible stuff for a bit! At least I know I won't be bothered by the telephone ringing!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Finally a finish...

At a later date I will post the growing list of UFO's that have emerged from the closet. This one isn't very old and tonight I made myself sit down and finish the last 10 minutes of work to get it made into a finished quilt top!!!

The way I look at it this is finish 2 for the quilt. I look at finishing like the hobbits do breakfast and tea. There are multiple breaks for food each morning in the shire and there are multiple finishes for each quilt life. Finish 1 is drafting the pattern and selecting the fabric (or at least what you think will be the fabric.) Finish 2 is piecing or appliqueing the top. Finish three is marking and pinning/basting. And finish 4 is the quilting and binding. That way there are lots of intermediat celebrations where I get to splurge on fat quarters, chocolate, and trips to the book store!

Anyway, the quilt posted was a leader and ender project. I may have shown it before when it was and almost done! A couple of years ago we had an ice storm and the power went out for three days. The only room that got good light with the dining room so I sat in there and cut strips from all the odd pieces of fabric...reproductions that the color was just not right or from time periods I would never use. This is a King size quilttop and I still have baskets of strips! I think they reproduce when we aren't looking...I'm practing unsafe strip storage or something! I thought it would be a good stash-buster but now I just don't know...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Work countdown

I only have a month left to go at work...I'm definately on the downslide! I'm only part-time but it is an intense part-time. Some weeks I do 10-15 hours and others I've done as high as 60! You just never know. I am finding myself getting geared up to work on something then reminding myself - I will be long gone before the project even gets off the ground! It is a little unsettling...but I'm getting used to it!

The photo is another "back of the closet" quilt top. I think I need to add a border...This was half pinned and something was bothering me about it. I'm pretty sure it is the lack of border. Anyway, that gives me an excuse to to go play in the fabric. I plan to machine quilt this quilt top.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Reverse Quilting

Sometimes projects are put aside for the tinest reason. I made this quilt as part of a class in Maryland that used Mimi Dietrich's book on Smithsonian quilts. I think it was in 1997! I pinned the quilt to a few years later (after getting married and moving...) then started quilting. Quickly I learned to hate the batting I was using so I rolled the entire thing into a ball, stuffed it into a pillowcase with a mental note that I needed to "reverse quilt" and change out the batting. Ya, right...picking out quilting stiches is right up there with root canals! However this week I've looked long and hard at this project and decided I'm going to do it. Anyone with any hints or suggestions on easy ways to do this please feel free to post!
Most of what I find in the back of the closet has a similar story. This crayola colored quilt ended up on an upper closet shelf when I got halfway through and realized the directions had the seam allowance for one block and not for the me that causes all sorts of headaches and wins the quilt in progress a spot in the back of the closet. Not sure what to do with this one!

On the home front...I am slowly going through things and packing. Not just in my quilt room either. I am by nature a packrat...I still have some size 7 clothes that I hold on to because of the memories not because I ever think I will fit into them again! I have award plaques that didn't mean much to me when I got them so why is it so hard to part with them now? The brain is a funny thing.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I know I am soooo late on this...remember my computer was down for about a month. I was told/tagged to write 6 wierd things about myself...Anyway, here goes:
1. If I enter a store and it has a Scotty Dog on anything I will buy it. I have a room full of scotty dog "stuff." I however only have one real scotty - Macbeth. The room (and the dog) drives my husband a bit crazy.
2. I have watched the PBS series "I Claudius" every year for the past ten years...sometimes twice.
3. I'm a recovering adrenaline fast cars, wild amusement park rides, and slightly crazy horses. I am fine with hights and ok in the water but am scared to death of hights (over 40 feet) and water.
4. I can spend hours in an office supply store looking at paper and pencils.
5. I love food...not just to eat it (though I do my share of that) but to talk about it, read about it, and anticipate it. If you ask me about a place I've visited I will always start with the food. When my DH and I were looking at places to retire that was one of my top 3 requirments only it wasn't one that the web site we were using reviewed...I was soooo dissapointed! (And yes I spend too much time watching the food network!)
6. In the two years since I was diagnose with MS I've temporarily lost my sight, my abilty to walk, my sense of taste and smell (medication related), and the ability to speak clearly...all of these came back eventually and didn't happen at the same time. If I had the option to lose one of them permanently and then not have problems with the other (a Sophie's Choice) I would choose to lose the use of my legs.
7. (becuase the last one was too serious....) I am terriable at following rules that don't make sense. Sometimes that spills into my ability to spell!

ps...the photo is of one of my "lost" quilt tops (read lost to mean tucked way in the back of my closet.) I was playing with stripes and didn't quite get it the way I wanted. I may just put some borders on it and give it to Linus.


I spent a full day at work today so am a bit wiped out so I thought I'd just answer some questions that have come back on some recent posts...

What is a crustie? I don't think it is a widely used term so don't lose sleep over it! Basicly it is a small work with three layers that is heavily embellished. I'd use the name of the artist that inspired the works except I've heard she strongly objects to the term crustie (which is really only encrusted shortened...neither of which sound very artistic but we like that as the "royal" we!) I'll try and post some more this week if I get permission from Rachel...

Tic tack toe is basicly taking a nine patch, slicing it and adding strips then squaring (almost) the block up. Dianne Hire has some great directions in her book Playtime for that technique and several others that involve sewing and slicing. If you get a chance to take her class or look through her book it is worth the time.

Where do I find my antique quilts? Everywhere! I've bought them at antique shows, flea markets, and yard sales. I knocked on the front door of a house when I saw one sitting on top of a car in their garage (quilt neglect.) At a gun show I berated a dealer until he sold me the quilt top he was using as a table cover (quilt abuse.) I've been given them by people I worked with who no longer had family members who they thought would appreciate them (quilt adoption.) Once family, friends, and coworkers know you are looking for them it is surprising what you find. Just today I got a call from a guy I work with to tell me there is a person listing quilts "at least 100 years old" for sale in the "I Wanna" Ad book...I haven't looked in that book for years but there ya go! Even the local charities like Goodwill and Catholic Charities that sell clothes and donated items have my telephone number...I've alway given them a fair offer and if it is a quilt I don't want I give them enough information so they can market it effectively (I also let other quilt collectors know about it...after I look...which they have reciprocated.)

What do I do with my antique quilts? The strippy quilt in the photo is one I have had for over ten years. I call it a Cape Cod quilt because it reminds me of the beach. I bought this at a small antique shop in Maryland. It hangs in my living room during the summer. I have also used it to inspire new quilts. I posted one in an earier post in bright colors. I've taught classes on the strippy technique. So I guess you could say I've gotten about all you can out of this quilt...I also have volunteered at our quilt show and at a local antique store to do bed turnings showing the quilts and talking about quilt history. Most of my quilts are coming with me when I move overseas. Some are going to be temporarily loaned to my sisters.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

E-bay blocks

My sister (one of them) has a blossoming addiction to ebay that has spilled occasionally into the quilting arena. I say unfortunately because she does not quilt so the half finished projects she "wins" online ends up in my UFO pile! As if I don't have enough UFO's of my own to feel guilty about!

The photo is of one of these projects. The interior blocks with the star were sent to me a couple of years ago (my plan is if I take extremely long times to get them done she will stop sending them!) I let them age for a few months..maybe my stash. Periodically I would take them out and play with them but it took a long time before I decided to set them on point and mix it up a bit. I'm just not a 4- fabric-quilt sort of person! Anyway, this came out of the almost finished pile and is going to travel with me so I can hand quilt this point a few more weeks or months isn't going to make much of a difference!

I have recovered from the weekend's excitement. The fabric has been packed into boxes so they can't "attack" again. My neighbor has volunteered to take everything down off the shelves on the other side of the room to make it easier for me rummage through. I'm not sure if the instinct to tuck and roll was from jumping out of planes in the army or bomb drills that had us hiding under the desk in elementary school..what ever it worked!

Well DH is calling...the Red Sox/Yankee game is on TV and he doesn't like to cheer alone!