Friday, May 26, 2017

Bridge of Flowers - Shelburne Falls

On Wednesday, I went on a quilt adventure with my friend Edith who wanted to visit Quilts & Treasures, Inc. in East Longmeadow, MA.  It was a cute little shop in a very pretty part of our state. After a stop for lunch, we headed on to A Notion to Quilt in Shelburne , MA. Sad to say, this wonderful shop will be closing its doors this summer. According to a notice on the website, the building is being sold and the owners who are getting up in years have decided to retire. It's troubling how many quilt shops have closed in the last few years.

Our final stop was down the road at the Shelburne Falls Bridge of Flowers. The 400 foot bridge spans the Deerfield River and connects Shelburne Falls and Buckland. It's a lovely destination for a day trip. Here are some photos taken with my iPhone.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Productive Quilty Weekend

Overnight, a few of my irises bloomed. In between today's raindrops, I was able to capture this image with my 'real' camera. 

As mentioned in my last post, I was able to get quite a bit done over the course of Friday and Saturday. One of the ladies in the Crosstown Quilters coordinates making and delivering breast cancer comfort pillows to our local cancer center.  Being a blessed ten year breast cancer survivor myself, I am happy to periodically donate pillows. There are five this time.

This little preemie quilt will be donated to Floating Hospital for Children. I loved this bright, colorful little panel but moved the bottom row of the design to the top of the piece. After all, the king of the jungle wearing his crown should be at the top. Borders were added to make the quilt 24x24 which is the size requested.

Another member of our guild collects small quilts and pillowcases for the children of soldiers being deployed. She and the other members of her group do wonderful work, and so, these Star War pillowcases will be headed her way. 

Finally, this pink candle mat is for me and the Red Sox mat is for my neighbor. The pattern for these  "Simple Pleasures: Candle Cradles" is available from "The Teacher's Pet." These candle mats coupled with a battery operated candles make cute, quick gifts.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Shots in My Garden

Here are just a few quick photos from my garden this Sunday.  I spent Friday and Saturday quilting with friends, and I am happy to say that I was pretty productive.  I'll show some photos of what I accomplished in my next post.

The columbine and poppies have burst into bloom.

This evening I watched two of my little cousins take part in a track meet.  It was a beautiful night and I was very impressed at how well organized the event was.  Both girls, ages 11 and 8, did very well.

On Saturday morning I went to a plant sale run by our local garden club and am now eager to start working in my garden, however Mother Nature will be sending a bit of rain our way tomorrow, so I'll likely spend a bit more time quilting.  Have a wonderful week.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Raggedy Ann and Andy Quilt

The Crosstown Quilters Guild recently held a well-attended charity workshop. I was not able to stay as long as I would have liked, but I did take home some coordinated Raggedy Ann and Andy fabric which had been donated. I added a bit of fabric from my stash and was able to make a quilt and two pillowcases which I will turn in at our next meeting. It's a happy, cheery quilt which will hopefully put a smile on some child's face. :-)

In case you are wondering, the pattern for this simple child's quilt calls for five - 6.5 " strips, four - 3.5" strips, and eight - 1.5 inch strips. All strips are cut WOF (width of fabric).

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Spot of Color on a Gray Day - African Violets

While food shopping recently, this gorgeous African Violet caught my eye. Of course, it came home with me. My father's sister Alice was a gardener, a cook, and a lover of African Violets. She had a two-shelf white iron flower cart which was filled with African Violets in her dining room. When we were young, my aunt would allow my brother and me at the florist to pick out new violets to add to her collection. I guess that stayed with me as I also have a few African Violets in my home
. . . nothing crazy . . . just nine or so. When they are not blooming, they reside in my sewing room. Once they begin blooming, I move them to a table in the living room to enjoy them. Here are the rest of the ones in bloom right now. This top one has been in bloom for a couple of months.

I'll bring this one downstairs soon. Luckily, there always seems to be a few in bloom.

My African Violets seem to thrive on somewhat benign neglect. When I remove water from my fish tanks, I add it to my watering can with a pinch of "Jack's Classic Blossom Booster 10-30-20." They do get good diffused light for most of the day. I try to remember to water them on Sunday mornings after church, but sometimes that doesn't happen and it could be ten days or so before I get around to doing it. (I don't recommend that.) I water them from the bottom and let them drain well. They seem to take it all in stride.

One last photo from last week's visit to Jenny Pond, this little guy seems to be giving me the eye.

He was busy preening but paused long enough for this quick shot.

Exciting news!!! Harvey Leonard, Channel 5's crack weatherman just said that the sun will make a return tomorrow. O Frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Visit to Jenny Pond in Plymouth, MA

It was such a beautiful day that I called a friend and we headed to the Lobster Hut in Plymouth for lunch. Then we stopped by Jenny Pond where I was struck by this lovely reflection. 

I didn't even notice the cool pattern reflections until I viewed this image on my laptop.

It's definitely worth clicking on this mallard  to see the incredible detail in this handsome guy's portrait.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Steady As They Go - Follow Up

This morning, I am happy to say, I presented a well received Quilting 101 at the Crosstown Quilters Guild; the topic was how I transform my photos into art quilts. (In this guild, members often present mini quilt lessons or Quilting 101s. For example, last month a member shared her passion for scrap quilts and offered suggestions on storage and how to use all of those precious scraps. )

There were questions this morning about my latest piece which I promised I would answer in this post. "Steady As They Go" hangs very straight and flat. In January, our guest speaker at the guild was Nina Hunt whose topic was "Color to Impress, Design to Delight." After her talk, I asked her how she got her quilts to be so straight and perfect. She told me that she applied a piece of deco bond stabilizer to the back of the top, and so I did this with my latest piece. Next, I used a layer of Dream Fusion batting. At this point, I did all of my quilting. I stitched down each and every element on the top with a tiny zigzag stitch in a corresponding thread color. Later, I applied a false back to hide that stitching. I attached the false back by simply stitching in the ditch some of the larger seam lines.

I liked the addition of the deco bond stabilizer and would use it again in certain pieces. I would not use it if for example I was doing a flower piece as I would want that piece to be, technical term here . . . .  more puffy. :-) On second thought, perhaps I would quilt the top with the batting and then add a layer of deco bond. . . something to consider.

My next big decision was how to finish the quilt; add a frame, face it, or use a simple binding? I went with a simple binding using a light grey to charcoal ombre which I carefully pieced to place the dark charcoal along the bottom and gradually becoming lighter as it came up the sides and across the top.

Here's the label on the back of the quilt.  I discovered a new $.99 ap called PicFrame for your iPhone or iPad which allows you to make collages.  I selected a three part frame. On the bottom, I put a honeymoon photo from 1945; beside it I placed the photo that was the basis for this piece. Across the top, I placed four labels with pertinent info. Again, this ap is super simple to use. I emailed it to myself and printed out a 5x7" label on Jacquard Inkjet Printing Cotton. I have tried various brands of photo printing materials, and I find this brand to be by far the best. I had tested various products when I was starting my crazy quilt piece, Simpler Times - Photos from My Grandmother's Album.

I think that answers the questions, but if not, you may leave any questions in the comment section.

Now, about the pink tulip photo above. This just may be my next 'photo' quilt.  This sole, pretty little tulip was swaying in the wind Sunday when I grabbed a quick shot with my iPhone. I'll document my progress here.

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Steady As They Go

As mentioned in an earlier post, I was captivated by a quick photo taken by my friend of her parents while out shopping. They have been married for over seventy years. Her mom uses a cane, but her dad steadies himself by holding on to her pocketbook strap. There was just something so endearing about that photo that it made me smile and ask permission to turn it into an art quilt. The finished piece measures eighteen by twenty-four.

I'm glad it is completed as I have been asked to do a short talk later this week at my guild explaining my process of turning a photo into an art quilt. My process is always evolving, and I did a few things a bit differently in this piece than in previous ones. In my next post, I'll discuss some of those things and talk about an app that was new to me which made it super simple to create the perfect label for this piece.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Quilt for a Veteran

I am happy to report that I finally finished this quilt for a veteran. The pattern was Jennie Dolan's "Half Square Triangles Around the World Quilt".  This Missouri Star Quilting tutorial on YouTube can be found here. Actually, the top had been done for about a year, but I had not got around to quilting it until last week. I do tend to procrastinate and take on way too many projects. :-)

It was a lovely day on Saturday when my cousin Freddie received his first Holy Communion. He looked quite proud and handsome in his grey three-piece suit, and there was a fun party later to celebrate. Yesterday, two of my other little cousins were in a wonderful dance recital. I may be just a tad prejudiced, but I thought they were two of the cutest, most talented dancers. In truth, for each number the stage was filled with happy, confident, young dancers. The littlest ones were beyond adorable.

 As I mentioned in a previous post, I enjoy Anna's videos from her Woolie Mammoth blog. She sometimes posts videos of her visits to quilt shops while on her RV travels with her husband and dog Enzo and encourages viewers to contact the quilt shop if interested in anything seen in the video.  Well, I did just that after watching her visit to The Old World Quilt Shoppe in Cave Creek, Arizona. What a delightful shop! In today's mail I received these two kits that had caught my eye. The kits are a combination of both fabric and wool.

Here's a better look at Bless This House; isn't it cute! For now, I'll tuck these away in my wool projects drawer. Either would be a fun project to take along on a quilting retreat.

Finally, this blog is all about quilting, crafting, fun, photography, life, etc., and I for the most part  avoid any political comments. But, since this is my journal, I'd like to comment on our President's recent Reuters interview.

I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more 
work than my previous life. I thought it would be easier.

He thought it would be easier . . . leader of one of the most powerful nations on earth . . . commander-in-chief of the mightiest fighting force in the free world  . . . He thought it would be easier. Later, the President stated he would be "honored" to meet with various brutal dictators who are universally condemned for their human rights violations. Still later, he praised President Andrew Jackson whom he greatly admires. He spoke of how upset Jackson was about the Civil War, and he wondered why the problems that led to that war could not have been resolved.  . . . Andrew Jackson died sixteen years before the Civil War.

All this in one weekend.
God help us, bless us, and keep us safe!!! End of commentary . . .