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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Ponyhenge - Whimsy, Joy, and Pure Delight

In a field along #39 Old Sudbury Road in Lincoln, MA, there is a magical gathering of rocking horses. After attending the two quilt shows last Thursday, my friends and I headed to a spot that I had never seen in person . . . Ponyhenge!!!

There were about forty, colorful horses of all types, materials, and sizes arranged in three circles.

The inner circle consisted of small horses while larger horses galloped around the outer edges.

No one knows who discarded the first horse or who else has left horses; it doesn't matter . . . it is simply wonderful. The horses are right along the road, and there is a spot to pull off the road safely to take photos.

There was a slight breeze, so a few of the horses even appeared to be rocking in the beautiful, autumn sunshine. 

In these troubled times, it is good to capture moments of wonder and delight. You can be sure that I will come back to visit this spot again.

My GPS sent me home through downtown Boston. Why? Who knows, but the last time I disregard my GPS directions while heading toward Boston, I got stuck in a massive traffic jam. So, I followed it's directions, and I was able to grab this shot while waiting at a traffic light. Boston is truly a beautiful city.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Exquisite Antique Silk Log Cabin Quilt

On Friday, I went with my friends Edith and Laurel to  the Concord Piecemakers Quilt Guild Show in Acton, Ma, and the Rising Star Quilt Show in Lexington, MA. Both show had stunning quilts on display. When we entered the church where the Concord Piecemakers had their show, I spotted a sign "Vintage Quilts for Sale" pointing upstairs. Up we went. There were quite a few cotton, antique quilts spread on the tables, but at the end of the room I zeroed in on this exquisite silk quilt. I knew that it would be coming home with me, and it did!!!

There was no label on the quilt. Evidently, a woman had donated these quilts to the guild because the family didn't want them. That is a shame.

All of the silk log cabin blocks are handsewn. With a few exceptions, the blocks have retained their bright colors. It probably has been stored away. Though a few of the logs have frayed, split, or come apart, for the most part, the quilt is in very good condition given its age. I have repaired vintage quilts before, so I may or may not attempt to fix these spots. It is definitely not a quilt that you would use, but rather just put on display.

I brought it to a meeting of the Herring Run Quilt Guild yesterday morning to see if a couple of knowledgeable members could help me date it. I had tried to do some research on silk quilts, and I came up with some interesting information. One article, "Rare Quilts from the Smithsonian's Collection to Go on View" indicated that from the 1870s to the 1920s, the silk industry flourished in  America. "Paterson, New Jersey, was known as America's "Silk City," and produced miles of silk fabric. By the 1880s, even girls and women who worked in factories were able to afford silk dresses for "Sunday best." The article is short but makes for interesting reading. Here is another interesting fact; the Smithsonian's collection of quilts and quilt related items are accessible online here.

This information in the article coincided with the opinions of my fellow guild members who placed this quilt from that same 1870s - 1920s time period.

As you can see, the maker had a lovely color sense. The block above is one of my favorites.

In the photo below, you are able to see the pink damask backing and the crocheted lace edge around the entire quilt. 

 I plan to display it on a quilt rack in my dining room out of direct sunlight. Jackie L., from our guild, suggested that I keep a covering over it to protect it from dust and sunlight when I don't have company. She also said to periodically fold it in different ways to prevent permanent creases. I do that when I fold my own quilts, and it is good advice to follow.

I would love to know your thoughts about this quilt. It is my understanding that Blogspot does not always allow readers to leave comments. Why that is I do not know. I have found that I am also sometimes not allowed to comment on others' blogs as well. You may always reach me at my email -
    jesmith28("at" symbol)

I will treasure this quilt always, and I will be sure to place a label on all the quilts and wall hangings that I make.

For Emma fans: Here she is game day ready. Brady and the boys are now 4 - 0. Go Pats!!!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Downton Abbey and a Very Quilty Month

If you are a Downton Abbey fan, drop everything and go see the movie. It's wonderful in every possible way, and it is as if you were visiting dear old friends (albeit those who live and work in a house a bit fancier than mine.) I saw it yesterday with a friend, and we both loved it!!! It was delightful seeing it all unfold on the big screen. I cannot wait to see the next movie which I imagine Julian Fellowes is already in the process of writing.

It has been two weeks since my last blog post, but I have been happily very, very busy. The only finished stitch piece was this wool applique, autumn themed vintage truck scene which was a pattern from Buttermilk Basin.

So, what else have I been doing quilt-wise? On Monday, Sept. 16th, I attended  "Meet the Teachers" at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell. This program allowed representatives of quilt guilds to hear from teachers who are eager to speak at our guild meetings. I'm mentioning this because there is currently at the museum an exhibit of the work of the late Sue Garman which is not to be missed. Her daughters have allowed the museum to host an amazing collection of her work. Her Baltimore Album quilts were exquisite and the range of her other quilts is definitely worth a visit. I first became aware of Sue Garmen when I made her Old World Santas quilt in 2012. Here is my quilt. I apologize for a not so great photo as it was was taken while it was hanging at our 2012 guild quilt show.

Sue Garman had designed many of the BOM quilts for The Quilt Show.  Her patterns are still available from her daughters on their website, Come Quilt.

At our first meeting of the year at the Herring Run Quilt Guild, I took a class taught by delightful, energetic Beth Helfter of Eva Paige Designs Beth has developed a fun technique for creating very scrappy "Accordion Sewn HSTs." She has a number of instructional videos on Youtube and a new book, OOMPAH! which explores her method.

On Friday, Sept. 20th, I took a class with award winning, improvisational quilter Marge Tucker at her Rockland studio. The class was "Eel Grass and Eddies (Long Layered Curves,)  and I have been addicted to making these blocks ever since. :-) [Marge was at the "Meet the Teachers" program at the Quilt Museum, and each of Marge's quilts was met with audible gasps. Her work is fresh and exciting, and she is an excellent instructor.]

Finally, at Tuesday's meeting of the Crosstown Quilters, our speaker was award winning quilter Pat Delaney whose trunk show was perhaps the most impressive trunk show that I have ever seen.  It was beyond words.

All of these lovely ladies have trunk show and offer classes and workshops.  Click on their names to go to their websites for more information.

And now it is time to finish this up and take ever patient Emma for a long walk . . .

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Wool Applique - Schoolhouses and Apples

When I saw this September wool applique kit offered by Shabby Fabrics, I knew that I would have to purchase it. Schoolhouses and apples . . . how could I resist?  :-)

Wool applique is one of my favorite forms of hand stitching because it is so relaxing and easy to do. 

Have you given wool applique a try? If not, you definitely should, but I warn you it may very well become addictive. There are many ways to prep your wool applique, and Youtube offers many how to videos. I use the method shown in these first two videos from Anna at the Woolie Mammoth - Quilt Roadies blog.

Black Mountain Needleworks has a very good article "Working with Wool" which discusses the difference between felted wool and wool felt. They sound like the same thing, but they are different.

My advice would be to start with a small kit that includes the pattern, wool, and floss or thread. The pattern will no doubt include a stitching guide. The piece above is primarily done with a simple blanket stitch. The piece I am currently working on will allow me to include a larger variety of stitches. 

If you find that you enjoy wool applique and you would like to explore incorporating other stitches, I would suggest Sue Spargo's book, Creative Stitching, which includes step by step instructions and illustrations for seventy stitches. It is a very good reference text. One further suggestion would be to be sure to get the 2017 edition as it is spiral-bound which makes it easier to use. 

National School Picture Day . . . 

Who knew that there was even such a day? On a number of TV programs this morning hosts were showing their school photos, and so, just for fun I decided to show one of mine.

Yes, this curly, red headed moppet was me in fourth grade. That's your smile for the day.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Crosstown Quilters Guild - Mystery Quilts

Yesterday was the first meeting of the Crosstown Quilters Guild's 1999-2000 season, and a summer of sewing activity produced an impressive show and tell session. Twenty-eight members also brought their completed mystery quilts. This quilt was designed by Laurie G. who runs our BOM ("Block of the Month.") It was interesting to see the impact made by the various color schemes.

At times, it was a bit like viewing Wilson from the old "Home Improvement" series who would peek over the fence to impart a bit of wisdom to the main character played by Tim Allen. :-)

We also welcomed ten lovely ladies who have joined our merry band of quilters. :-)

On Saturday, the speaker at the first meeting of the Herring Run Quilt Guild was Beth Heftler of EvaPaige Quilt Designs. She taught an afternoon class on her Accordian Sewn HSTs. I had heard her speak previously on this subject at another guild meeting, but I didn't quite get it. I do now after attending the class. :-) She has a new book and a three part demonstration on Youtube. Just search for EvaPaige Designs if you interested in exploring this method of making scrappy half square triangles.

I've been reading quite a bit lately, but not much that I would recommend.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I loved A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, so I was eager to read his first novel, Rules of Civility. Sorry,  though I finished it, it didn't hold my interest without a struggle.

Most of the works that I have been reading on my Kindle at bedtime have been in the cozy mystery genre, and therefore while pleasant enough to read not all that memorable.

I will recommend one novel, Marie Bostwick's From Here to Home. I am not usually a fan of quilt related novels as in general I find the writing lacking, but I did enjoy this novel that I picked up on the remainder table at Barnes and Noble. Mary Dell Templeton, host of fictional TV show Quintessential Quilting, is a feisty, fun, determined protagonist. The novel is filled with warmth and humor, and I am pretty sure you, too, would enjoy the folks living in Too Much, Texas. 

What have you been reading and recommending to your friends?

Friday, September 6, 2019

Summer Celebration of New England Quilts

Did you have a chance to visit the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell to see the Summer Celebration of New England Quilts? This was a special exhibit of quilts representing quilt guilds throughout New England. The exhibit runs through Sunday, September 8th.

Here's my friend Edith beside her gorgeous 9-patch quilt. Her quilt was chosen to represent the Crosstown Quilters Guild which meets in Weymouth, MA.

Another magnificent quilt was this hand appliqued masterpiece by Jane Hewitt whose quilt represented the Herring Run Quilt Guild that meets in Norwell, MA.

There were many, many other stunning quilts; here are just a few. (You may click on any image to see a larger image.)

Did you notice that the teenie tiny paper-pieced stars were only 1.5"?

The New England Quilt Museum also has a lovely gift shop.  A few of the wool applique pieces that I have done feature sheep, so I knew this cute little ewe would feel right at home on my mantel.


Have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Powers Farm Randolph

Did you have a pleasant Labor Day weekend? I spent Friday through Sunday quilting with friends in Stoughton. Our group uses two conference rooms at a local hotel, and we come and go as we please. I actually didn't bring my sewing machine as I wanted to work on a wool applique piece. Shabby Fabrics had offered a September wool kit featuring school houses and apples;  honestly, how could I have resisted? :-)

Yesterday, my two forever friends and I went for a walk at Powers Farm in Randolph. Since skies were threatening, I only had my iPhone with me.  We were mindful of the EEE threat, but since there was a steady breeze, there were no bugs.

We three have been friends since we we were little girls. Funny aside . . . we asked a lady in the parking lot if she would mind taking a picture for us. She said, "Sure, just a second," and then she got in her car and drove off. Huh??? Oh well, we managed to take this selfie.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Turn Your Photos into Watercolor Images with Waterlogue

Today I am going to tell you about a super easy way to turn your photos into watercolor-like images using an app called aptly enough Waterlogue. I use it on my iPad, but you may use it on your iPhone or on any device with Windows 10.

My original photos were taken in Court Square in Downtown Springfield, MA, and you may see them in an earlier post here.

Start by downloading this inexpensive app. When you open it, you will a small camera in the lower left corner. Click on it and you will see examples you may play around with or click on Photo Library to bring up one of your own photos as I have done.

Then try out some of the effects running along the bottom of the screen. For example, when your photo is on the screen, click on "Vibrant" and then watch your image appear in a small block to the right. Click on that image and before your very eyes, your photo will magically transform into a watercolor image. Way Cool!!!!! If you don't like the result, just swipe the image to the right and your original photo will appear. Click on another box, maybe "Rainy" this time.

Once you create an image that you like, then slide across the bottom to find a numbered scale. Picking a point of the scale will further change your image. I like the effects of six or eight. You may then save, email, or post your photo to other sites.

This is the scene from the seventh floor cafeteria of Mass Eye and Ear.

One more . . . Here is one of my favorite photos from a trip to Boothbay Harbor last August.

I love the colors in this reflection, but look how Waterlogue rendered it. . . equally nice and oh so painterly. :-)

Sure, I really, really do wish that I had the talent to work in actual watercolors, but for now, this will have to do. :-) I intend to print some of these images to make some notecards to have on hand.

Hope you are having a colorful week.