Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Few Moments of Sunshine

The last three days have been wet, chilly, and definitely 'un-springlike."  So, when the sun made a brief appearance this afternoon, I took a quick shot of these grape hyacinths which have begun to naturalize in my backyard. The daffodils have been beautiful, but now most are mud splattered and wilted from the rain. If you are new to my blog, I think you would really enjoy reading the backstory of these daffodils, Full Circle, which I originally posted in 2011. It's a great story,  and if it hadn't happened to me, I might not believe it myself!!!

On the quilting front, today I finished all the quilting for my new art quilt based on a photo of my friend's parents. There were a few spots that still needed a bit of work, and then I attached a false back. Now I just need to get the right shade of fabric for the binding. I had considered doing a facing but felt this piece called for a regular binding. I'm also sewing down the binding on a patriotic  quilt for a veteran. This quilt will be ready to turn in at the next guild meeting of the Crosstown Quilters.

On another quilting note, I have added two new blogs to the side bar. I follow both of these blogs and love them . . . they are always day brighteners as both of these bloggers are positive, enthusiastic, happy, talented ladies - my kind of people!!! Bonnie Hunter of (Quiltville's Quips & Snips) is a rock star in the quilting world; sometimes I get tired just reading about all that she does! She is extremely generous with patterns, tips, and tutorials posted on her website. She teaches at guilds all over and posts about her adventures. She shares her fondness for antiques and if you love scrap quilting, she is definitely your lady. Anna at Woolie Mammoth offers wool and quilt tutorials and videos of her RV travels with her husband and faithful dog, Enzo. I particularly enjoy her videos of quilt shops that she visits. Quilter or not, check out both of these blogs, but be careful as you might just become hooked.

Friday, April 21, 2017

In the Nick of Time . . .

When I'm in the middle of working on a piece, I get a tiny bit obsessed. As noted in my previous post, I had completed the background and the figure of my friend's mother on Saturday. I had a lovely Sunday Easter afternoon at the home of my cousin's mother-in-law. That evening upon returning home I intended to spend a bit of time working on the other figure in the piece. That 'bit of time' ended up being about three hours. Did I mention that I get obsessed with a project? Anyway, toward midnight, I thought that I had everything in place the way that I wanted it, all set to be quilted. That is. . . until the light of the next morning when I took a closer look. Can you see the problem? The background seam showed through the slacks; in person it was even more noticeable. I caught it just in the nick of time before layering the piece.What was a poor quilter to do??? Having spent a fair amount of time on the slacks, belt, pockets, sneakers, etc. I didn't want to start completely over, so I came up with a solution.  I made a slightly smaller pair of the pants and then ever so gently and carefully lifted up the fused down slacks to just below the belt. Next, I slid the new 'pantaloons" under the slacks. It worked! No seam line . . . Whew!

FYI - Misty Fuse is my fusible of choice, and I really like to use this Fiskars Fingertip Rotary Cutter for small, intricate pieces.

On Wednesday, my cousin Kristin came with her girls for a visit. We went to lunch, checked out the herring run, made colorful bead bracelets, and had our first ice cream cone of the season at Hornstra Farm in Norwell. Fifteen minutes after I kissed them goodbye, a friend picked me up as we were heading to a restaurant to celebrate another friend's 60th birthday. It was a very, very fun, full day. On Thursday, I met another group of friends for a lovely lunch before heading off to my flute lesson. By the time I returned home, I was exhausted. :-) :-)

Today my friend Laurel came to quilt and I accomplished two things. I put the finishing touches on my latest piece which is now layered and ready to quilt. I also stitched the last three pieces of another block from Yoko Saito's Floral Bouquet Quilts.  This piece in the book had sixty-five pieces, but since I'm reducing the size of the blocks, I opted to eliminate a few. My block has a mere forty-seven pieces. :-)

Have a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Pansy Power and Work in Progress

Don't you just love the smiling, happy faces of pansies? It wouldn't be spring without them. At the garden center yesterday, I picked up a large pot of pansies to bring as a hostess gift tomorrow. As I was placing it in the car, I suddenly stopped and asked myself why I hadn't picked up a pot for myself. I turned right around and bought one for me, too! Pansies rule!

I spent most of today working on my new project.  As you can see, I use an x-acto knife to cut out the pattern piece on which I am working. For example, here I have divided and labeled this shirt in three pieces.

Next,  I audition fabric pieces by slipping them under the section that I have temporarily removed. I like to use batik fabrics whenever possible since the cut edges don't ravel and you can make use of the shadings on the fabric.  I usually cut a larger piece of the selected fabric and put misty fuse on the back. The leftover pieces of fused fabric I keep in a box for future projects.

When the main pattern pieces are cut out, I move them to a flannel covered board.

At this point, I am only interested in preparing these large pieces. The photo that I used did not reveal much background detail, so it took quite some time to come up with this design. 

Then it's time to begin adding some of the other parts. Here's a peek at part of the piece so far. At this point, the figure on the left has been fused down, and I'm pleased with how it looks. 

On another note; congratulations to April the Giraffe on the birth of her son. I may be sticking my neck out, but I bet no other giraffe in history has ever received this much media attention. It has been suggested that millions have been watching the live streaming videos in anticipation of the birth. Perhaps in this crazy world of ours, it says something positive about the desire to follow this sweet story.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Beginning a New Art Quilt

I'll talk about the new piece in just a moment, but first let me offer a book recommendation, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Now, I am not truly a mystery fan, but this book had finally made it to the top of the pile on my bedside table, and I'm glad that it did. What a good read!!! The story is set in a small village in England during the 1950s, and the protagonist is one Flavia de Luce. Now, I won't give you any hints about the main character or the story other than to say that after the first few pages you will be absolutely hooked. Flavia is perhaps the most memorable character that I have come across in many years. Even if you never take any of my recommendations, do yourself a favor and check out this mystery.

Also, if you are looking for something fun to read, you might enjoy Tom Bergeron's I'm Hosting as Fast as I Can!: Zen and the Art of Staying Sane in Hollywood. In this memoir, the author recounts how he got into the crazy entertainment business from his early years as a TV and radio personality on Boston's WBZ Radio and Television station to his current hosting spot on "Dancing with the Stars." With his quick wit and charm, he is the perfect host to corral the bedazzled, spray tanned "celebrity" dancers. It's a quick, light, fun read.

Now on to my project. At lunch with friends a few weeks ago, my friend Kathy shared a photo that she had taken of her parents while shopping. I was so captivated by the photo that I asked if I could use it as the basis of an art quilt.  Her parents have been married seventy-two plus years.  Her mom uses a cane, but since her dad doesn't want to use one, he just holds on to the strap of her pocketbook. 

I started by printing out an eight by ten enlargement of the photo and then taped a sheet of clear plastic down upon it. Using an ultra fine marker, I carefully traced around the edges and various shadow areas.

Next, I brought the plastic sheet to Staples to have an eighteen by twenty-four inch enlargement. This will be my master sheet.

 The next step will be to make a working copy of the pattern out of freezer paper that I can then cut apart as I am building the piece. You might be wondering why I don't have two copies printed at the same time, but I find that the freezer paper pattern will hold up better.For now, I'm trying to decide how I will build the background for this piece. 

In case I don't post in the next few days, I wish all who celebrate it, a very Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Nature's Camouflage

Oh Dear! Oh Deer! I had not seen any deer in our little strip of woods since back in mid-March. You can see photos and read that post here. This morning, however, there were two white-tailed deer. As you can tell from the photo above, they were difficult to spot. I watched first from my sunporch and then slowly ventured out with my camera and long lens. I hadn't even noticed the smaller one below who had been lying down. They didn't seem alarmed by my presence; in fact, the smaller one came out of the brush and I was able to take this photo.  After all the rain we had last week, there is a little pond for them and when I checked later in the afternoon, they were still there.

I only watched them for a few minutes, so as not to worry them and then turned to the crocuses which survived our recent wild, wet, windy weather. Today was lovely and the weather folks say tomorrow and Monday will be glorious.

As for quilting this week, I have a quilt intended for a veteran all layered and about a third quilted. (Note to self: That's the last time that I will crawl around my bedroom floor trying to layer a quilt top, batting, and backing. Yikes!)

My friend Laurel came yesterday, and I spent all day prepping the tiny pieces for the applique block that I am working on from Yoko Saito's book Floral Bouquet. There are sixty-five tiny pieces! I am totally nuts! This block wasn't even part of the quilt pattern, but a stand alone pattern in the book. I liked it so much, I wanted to add it to the wall hanging that I am making. The good part is that while it took forever getting the pieces ready, because they are so small they will stitch up quickly. I hope.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Estate in Spring

Yesterday was another sunny, warm spring day, so I grabbed my camera for a stroll around the estate . . .  the back forty . . . okay, my backyard. My longest lens wasn't quite long enough to do justice do this cardinal in the woods, but he sure was handsome. 

Each year I think about planting more crocus bulbs, but when fall comes around I never get to it. Fortunately, the bulbs are spreading on their own.

Naturally, my estate manager was checking things out alongside me.

In the evening, I attended a meeting of the Quilters Connection guild in Waltham. The speaker was quilt artist, Frances Holiday Alford from Vermont. Her varied pieces are whimsical and colorful and often feature hand stitching which I really like.


It was interesting to see up close some of her pieces that I recognized from articles in Quilting Arts magazine. You cannot believe how much the small piece above weighed with all of its buttons, beads, and geegaws. They were absolutely delightful! Click on the gallery button on her website to see other examples of her work. I'm a bit sorry that I had not signed up for her two-day workshop, but I came away from her talk with many fun ideas. (One quick tip she passed on: she uses her old sewing machine needles to hang pictures. They are easy to pound into the wall up to the shaft and when removed they will leave only a tiny hole.) 

I am super excited that I was able to sign up at the guild for a two-day "Artful Log Cabins" workshop with Katie Pasquini Masopust!!! 

Speaking of the Quilters Connection, be sure to mark your calendars for our quilt show on June 10 and 11 at Bentley University in Waltham. Don't worry; I'll be sure to remind you.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Just When You Think You Have Seen It All . . .

Here's another completed block for the Yoko Saito hand applique project on which I am working based on her book, Floral Bouquet. I'm not sure whether I stitched on the right or wrong side of the fabric, but I like this side's nubby texture. Ricky Tims always says that since you paid for both sides of the fabric, you are free to use whichever side you please.

Now . . . regarding this post's title . . . this morning after church Emma and I went for a walk. We had been cooped up all day yesterday since it had been a cold, miserable, blustery, rainy day. Some areas of New England received six inches of snow, but we only received slush which has since all disappeared. Today it's a beautiful, warm spring day. Anyway, we were on our walk when suddenly Emma came to a complete stop as did I.  Before our eyes was a large, two-toned grey pot bellied pig. Emma didn't bark, but rather stood there staring. The pig was on a leash attached to a harness, so Emma took it in stride and began wagging her tail. The pig then came to the edge of the stone wall. I'm not sure Emma knew what the heck it was, but it appeared as if she would have been quite happy to play with it.  Later on the way back, we saw the pig and its owner heading in the front door!!! I have never seen this pig before, but he appeared to be quite a fine pet. :-)