Saturday, May 30, 2009

Adventures of Brownie

I've been stitching away on a little wall hanging for my kitchen. It is so close to begin done that I've pulled some binding fabrics out to press.
Thursday I had a run in with two of my least favorite backyard pests. Red ants and a snapping turtle. Brownie decided to walk with me to the mailbox. On my way back to the house I noticed she was crouched by the front garden. Just as I started to walk over a nasty, prehistoric looking snapping turtle the size of garbage pail lid raised up from beneath the daylillies. Now my brownie is little but she is a scrapper and I could see her tail swishing back and forth as she got ready to pounce. It was standoff and I knew who would win if I let it go any further.

Just then the big turtle began to move so I whipped off my sandal threw it at its back/shell. Boy did that make him made. Keeping an eye on the monster I picked Brownie. Let me tell you those turtles move a lot faster than the should...I threw my husband's Entertainment magazine and my Redsox cap. The turtle must be a Yankee's fan cause he opened up that mouth so I thought I could see his stomoch!

NOthing makes a girl forget she has MS better than an large, angery snapping turtle. Cat in hand and mail spread across the lawn I was off to the front of course I didn't see the newest red ant hill but my barefoot found it. My body really doesn't do well with those monsters. The last few days my toes have resembled Plum Tomatoes and the itch/pain is wicked. In the years I have lived here I have tried every remedy in the drug store and on the internet...none seem to work really well on getting the entire thing to go away quickly.

So today - more hand sewing and keeping off the foot. The boy down the street is coming by later to clear the yard of any unwelcome animals and insects after which I will feel safe going out for the mail again without wearing my old army boots! (that is once the swelling of my toes goes down enough that I can wear boots/shoes again!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back from the Mountians

We came back from the Smokey Mountains last night. I really loved it up there! The weather was a bit unpredictable (lots of rain...even when the sun was shining?!)

For those of you unfamiliar with the area it is in Western Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. (Think the book/movie Cold Mountain.)

We did a little bit of hiking...mainly jut to get to the waterfalls.DH gave me a few minutes to visit the Cherokee Indian museum and craft shop...beautiful baskets. They had these painted bears around the town. This one was outside the museum. He is decorated with letters from the Cherokee alphabet.

The rhododendrons and mountain laurel were still in bloom around the cabin...
We drove a a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway...great views. I did visit one quilt store (Quilters Quarters in Waynesville, North Carolina) and wouldn't you know it they were having a Memorial Day sale! I bought about 10 yards of fabric for backings. It is very nice little shop if you happen to be going through Maggie Valley...

Friday, May 22, 2009

playing with blocks

Not much sewing happening...packing to get ready for the mountains this weekend and trying to clear up the counters a bit since we have folks coming into take care of the animals while we are gone. (Not that these kids long as there is food in the fridge and the DVD player is working they are happy!)

I have been rinsing/washing lots of blocks that were donated to our Guild. Most of them are hand pieced and mostly made of cotton. All are circa 1940 - 1950...
They must have been made by a heavy smoker and later stored in the garage. It is taking a lot of sorting!
They are fun to play with though and should make good additions to our silent auction table at our show this fall.

It was from this same bag of blocks that we pulled some for our guild challenge. I finished my little top this week. This was the block I started with...(the black plaid is a poly-blend that didn't shrink like the cottons...nice to find out early!)

and this is how it looks now....

I'm calling it "Favorite things" and am going to use it as a table-topper when I am finished. It is coming with me this weekend to hand quilt while my Dh is out playing golf.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

down time

I've been off the computer lately trying to give my eyes a break...not sure how much it helps since I end up reading or sewing...
I finished my picnic quilt top. I drafted the block off of one in my vintage stash and then just made it scrappy. Used up a lot of 2-inch squares but that doesn't seem to make a dent the box of them. Oh well, all good.

Now making several quilt backings has made a dent in the stash! Brownie has claimed this scrappy bargello as her own. This backing is a very soft batik..wild but soft!Macbeth and Brownie were very quiet this morning...very unlike them. Usually they want to sit next to me or even sit on the keyboard. Instead the two of them were tracking this poor turtle across the back yard. Mac just thought it was fun while Brownie...the turtle need to be afraid - very afraid. I put her in the house to give the turtle a head start. Boy is she angry at me!

Last weekend I did go to the new Star Trek movie. It is a lot of fun. Even my DH who isn't a Trekkie enjoyed it (though he did refuse to wear his communicator/beam up badge from his cereal box!)

Thursday, May 14, 2009


First, yes I finished my name and will now get a fat envelope in the mail to Tonya! Whoohoo! I know the S is a bit strange but that is part of my lesson - do not work on multiple letters (like and S and an O) at the same time. The natural order of things requires you phone to ring and leaving you staring at a pile of scraps on the cutting board asking yourself "who am I, what are these scraps, and how the heck do they get pieced together?" In the end you have a dog legged S...oh, well.

Got an email yesterday that Bonnie was coming through town on here way to Southern Georgia for a quilt class and did I want to do there would be any question about that! So at 11:30 I parked in front of my favorite Indian restaurant, Bombay Central, and read old Quilting Magazines until Bonnie arrived a few minutes later! The food was exceptionally good today...either the company or the fact Sonnie, the owner of the restaurant was working! (Their Vegetable Pakora and curried cabbage are amazing and I ate way too much of it....)
Anyway, after lunch we went to a local antique mall. Bonnie bought a little sewing machine and I got an embroidered table runner. There were several quilts (including a Chinese import that was labeled "nice old quilt" and priced at $125...ya, it was about 10 years old and cost maybe 50 dollars when purchased new at someplace like JC Penny.....) There were a couple that almost tempted like this funky trip around the world (seems to a theme with me my log cabin phase....)

There were a few too many stains for the price they have on has been there awhile though so maybe I'll make an offer and sew what happens...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pearl Fryar Topiary Gardens

Road my friend Rachel and I visited a very cool garden in Bishopville, SC. Walking among these topiaries and garden art are like climbing into a children's book!There is a documentary out in the small theaters right now about the man who made this garden. Pearl Fryar is totally a self taught gardener. What trained horticulturalist would make a snowball out of a dogwood tree! You don't prune dogwoods into snowballs! Yes he did! And it looks great...
He also pruned this dogwood in the photo above into a sort of you get to really appreciate the wonderful bark....

We were lucky to get a tour by Pearl around the gardens. (As we were starting out a church bus full of people pulled up..."wasn't expecting that," Peal said, "gonna need some more fliers.") There are no hours posted and no admission (though there is a donation box for his scholarship fund for C students "the A students get enough as it is," according to Pear, "someone has to look out for the rest of them.")He makes a lot of the yard art out of things most other folks would throw away. There is a theme of love and caring through much of the yard art. This one says "hate hurts." Growing up in the segregated south and through much of the social revolution has heavily influenced Pearl's work.

Since I have been piecing some words for Tonya the past few days I thought I was hallucinating when I began to see letters...

letters everywhere....

too fun....

He spent a year putting in the driveway to the house...he laughed when he saw me taking picture of it!

oh, well. I also took lots of photos of his yard art....
and of the landscaping he has done for the local Waffle House!
Not quite sure how this could be incorporated into my quilting. I took it more as just a chance to see someone who loves what they do do it so well. The inspiration is in how he designed his life not just in the garden design.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day and other stuff....

I did finish my 4 letter happy word for Tonya...cake! It is a little longer than the requirement but big cakes are better than small ones...that is my story and I'm sticking to it. Actually the k is toughest letter I have done so far (at one point it was huge and I kept trimming it off a bit at a time so worried it wouldn't look like anything but chicken scratch when I was done with the rotary cutter!) So if any of you folks doing three letter word run a bit short...just call it kismet or teamwork or big cake will take up the slack!

In honor of Mother's Day I thought I should post a photo of my Mom. She isn't a quilter but she did encourage me to sew or quilt while I was growing up. She let us keep the sewing machine on the dining room table for a couple weeks while we worked on "major" projects and supplied me with bits of fabric to play with.

Last week an elderly woman in my guild gave me this box of quilting patterns. A friend of hers gave it to her a few years ago and she wanted to pass it on. Last night was my first chance to go through fun! (The box cover is very appropriate for what is inside!)
It is like opening a time capsule. Inside were patterns for quilting and other needle arts. The dates range from the late 1920's to the mid-50's. There are three main sources - Kansas City Star, a farming magazine, and batting wrappers like Mountain Mist.

It wasn't all about quilting...there were lots of fashion tips too....
If I could knit I might consider making that hat on the top left...reminds me on of one worn in a Sherlock Holmes episode by one of the heroines....I am going to make copies of some of the papers then box it all back up.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

summer colors

The weather folks are saying this weekend will be a scorcher so I am making plans to get out very early to the farmers market and then get home out of the sun. Down south I get more quilting done in summer than winter!

My big adventure today was to go shopping for shorts. Part of my fashion theory is there are three types of people in the world: those that wear shorts and look good, those who don't wear shorts and shouldn't, and those who are smart enough to know they shouldn't. Generally I've happily been in the latter category however as the temperature has risen my resolve has broken down. Have I also mentioned I really don't like to clothes shop for myself. Just too much trouble...hence I am a "What not to wear" wannabe. I showed my Dh what I bought today and his only comment was "well at least I hope they are comfortable." Where is Stacy and Clinton when you need them. I have yet to see them help anyone buy a pair of shorts. (Sort of like you have never seen them put in a ceiling fan on Trading Places....) Anyway, back to quilting.

I may work on some really old blocks...a set of 12 Baltimore Applique blocks that have been sitting around for about 14 years! I had 13 so my sister took the one in the photo and made a pillow out of it for me! So now I have to finish the quilt to go with it...

Today I laid out some of the blocks I made using the vintage block as inspiration. I had more of them made than I realized. I cut out enough to finish a couple more and then I will put it all together. It will be throw size which is fine. It came out very cheerful and summery looking. I used lots of scraps in it but tried to pull it together with the consistent red and blue in the large uneven 9-patch.

I think the two quilt photos in this post are pretty indicative of how my fabric choices have been evolving lately. New projects definitely have clearer colors. I wonder if that is partly due to availability or due to my eye problems. It is much more difficult for me to work with greyed or dull colors right now. I have a neurological opthomolgy appointment in a couple of weeks so who knows maybe they can do something for it. Until then bright and clear it is....

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Quilt bee

I actually made it out to a quilt bee this morning. It was good to see some other quilters. Lot so folks showed up so several quilts were pinned, some wool shared, an entire cake eaten, and more challenge blocks given out. A typical quilt bee....
I've got to say it wore me out though. So I came home and played in old quilt blocks (like the redwork above) and then mindlessly cut up a pile of shirts I bought at the church yard sale a few weeks ago. In now have a full box of shirting fabrics...guess I need to figure out what I want to make from it!

I've also started reading some of the quilt history books I got last weekend. This one by Carrie Hall and Rose Kretsinger was written in 1935. The writing style is so different from anything you would read today. I mean, when is the last time you saw poetry in your quilt books? The last stanza of "The Patchwork Quilts" by Carrie Hall is my favorite:

I think a quilt is something very real --
a message of creation wrought in flame:
With grief and laughter sewn into its patches
I see beyond the shadows, dream and aim.

The photos in this book are all black and white. She made an amazing collection of quilt blocks. You need to use lots of imagination (and at times a magnifying glass) but it is still a great read.

Already finished....

What a strange day this has been...eyes are still wonky and outside a bit damp so I spent the morning back rummaging in the closet. Finally found the "king of log cabins." I laid out on the bed and to my surprise - it is finished! When did I do that? The confusion? The top ended up so large that I decided to only put the keyboard border on the top and bottom. I had already made the third border which made me think later that I still needed to put on borders and that somehow I had lost the 4th one (nope...just never made it!)

So why has it been in a bag for so long? It finally came to me...the top is already so heavy I wanted to splurge and buy a wide backing fabric instead of piecing a back. Since I did need to get some food in I went out around 2 when traffic is light and hit the LQS. The backing is in the wash right now...
Still a bit rainy today so I didn't get the TAW out to photograph...this one will have to do. I am piecing a back for it right now. This will get two large quilts out of the to finish pile. I don't think the rest of the projects are quite as quick though!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A rambley post...

More rain today means I may not finish my mosaic by this weekend as planned. But it also means I had time to finish my May UFO....(loud thundering applause please....) Unfortunately it is so large I cannot get a photo of it indoors so its photo shoot will have to wait for clear skies.

Funny, I planned on finishing the king size log cabin made from repro fabrics. There I was digging through the bags in the back of the closet and a bag fell on my head from the shelf above. I tossed the bag back up onto the shelf and continued digging...wham. It hit me again (lucky I am a quilter and not a potter not!) So I open the bag and there was my Vale of Evesham trip around the world. This project was also on my list to finish this year and since it was elbowing its way to the front of the line I figured I should finish it before it got really aggressive!

So my TAW now has borders and is ready for quilting. I still may try and dig in the back of the closet and find that shy log cabin. There is no rule that I can't finish two in a month...just doesn't happen often (or ever?)As I was looking at some of the photos of the crazy quilts it hit me...the base of the crazy quilt is the same process as making a crumb block. The quilt above is a vintage "crazy" pieced quilt with no embroidery...basically a large crumb block! Sort of like the mosaic I am working is all coming together!Thought I should include another of Dee's ornaments (can't believe I left a cat out of my post!)

Today I have to focus on getting the block finished for my guild's donation quilt. It is a piece of cake applique design which I like but we using batiks which I do not like. I have bent three needles already and am only halfway through the block! So I switched to stronger needles but now I am unhappy with the stitches...I just have to remind myself someone is going to win this quilt for $1...just finish it. I am so volunteering for the design committee for the next quilt.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Crazy Quilting

Dee Well, the Crazy Quilt Lady, showed us some of her quilts at our guild meeting this past weekend. She is a riot! She does beautiful work. If there was a liberated embroiderer then she is it!
I wanted to show some of her work and her thoughts on quilting.

Dee started embroidering when she was 6 years old...more than 70 years ago. She was born during the depression and needlework was her mom's idea of entertainment for the children. Except for the basic stitches she doesn't' try and memorize how to make them - that is what books are for. During and after the depression lots of people moved North to find jobs in factories. She was taught to piece a crazy quilt by a woman from Tennessee. She laughed when she said not making the seams match makes real quilters "crazy."

"It is the most personal of all quilts," Dee says about Crazy quilts, "you couldn't copy one exactly if you tried." She uses many of the old designs like spider webs and flower baskets. but also has some pretty unique ones - like a drawing of a doll designed by the same artist who did the Campbell Soup Kids. Sometimes she includes blocks made for her by friends in her works. She told one story of how she once put an embroidered block from a friend into this quilt but later the friend "did her a very bad turn." She didn't want to be reminded of it each time she looked at the quilt so she picked out the embroidery and replaced it with this peacock! Talk about taking charge of your environment! One of my favorite pieces is her sampler apron...the material is so soft you can tell it has been washed dozens of times but the colors in the threads are still bright and stable. Testament to her skill with a needle.
She also showed us some small projects she makes a like these little birds, cats, Christmas trees and the old lady doll..."always have an ornament on hand for trading," she advised me "you never know what nice little things someone in the crowd may have with them."

She tries to keep her crazy quilts away from sunlight but other than that tries to only make "useful" things now. "If it sits still though" she said, " it may get some stitches." Her presentation reminded me of all the crazy quilt and embroidery books sitting on the self at home..maybe just a few stitches could go on the apron I am making....