Dave’s Aurora 2017

Dave’s Aurora 2017

Sunday, February 27, 2011

This was the week that was....Part 1 (long)

Seems like a person can moved through some of the days on a quiet note...few errands to run, phone is quiet, no appointments or places one needs to be...and then a week occurs that contains far too few hours and you just want to hop off the spinning top and go back to those quiet notes. Such has been the case at Taylorsoutback, which included various get togethers, annoying automated phone calls (political & so called charities) must do errands and a run to the ER  for my Mom which overshadowed everything else.  Her health continues to be an ongoing concern, though at this week's end she is feeling somewhat better. Increasingly frequent doses of reality no longer allow me to deny that she will soon turn 86. While helping her dress when she was being released from the ER, my eyes took in how frail she has become. The advancement of severe rheumatoid arthritis has affected each and every joint and my heart breaks.


And so, evening quilting offers that comfort and therapy that I have spoken of in earlier posts. These are the 2 recent blocks that have been offered on Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilt.
Cotton Boll - uncertain about the colors and may do over...
And Week #9 - Birds In The Air

If you follow Barbara's blog related to this project, you read about the quilt that was cut in half because of bickering among family members. Inked in one of the blocks was a drawing of the kneeling slave. What a coincidence that I should receive this in the mail from my dear friend Dee, who does wonderful cross stitch work. At our Liberty Ladies in February, one of the members shared the cross stitch pattern with us.
Apparently it is available - suppose to be free for downloading at http://needleprint.blogspot.com  (you may have to search Archives, I could not readily locate the pattern) Dee stitched this poignant design on a gorgeous piece of linen and presented it to me for my birthday. It was wrapped in violet covered paper that just says Spring!
In a different direction - I have been making a lot of half square triangles - HST's - A while back. I signed up on Rossi's blog and took the Process Pledge. This is Part I of making the quilt that I will post about during the entire process. Rossi prompts us to document our quilting journey from start to finish rather than just showing the completed quilt. I started getting nervous right off the bat as she wants us to post everything and that includes the good parts and all the mistakes and misgivings.  Talk about exposing your quilting soul to the world...here goes...
A year ago for my 66th birthday, I placed an order with a Canadian fabric shop near near Vancouver Island, B.C. It was one of the few sources of an incredibly beautiful (IMHO) collection designed by Debbie Mumm in honor of the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Canada. Since we have long held a love of all things Canadian & I wanted to recognize my Wisconsin Gramdma with French-Canadian roots, this fabric called to me. Canadian Cottage was the name and it had to be mine! On its arrival, I fell in love with it - the roses, the distinct maple leaf, flag and crown motifs - with one misgiving...the aqua blue polka dot turned out to be lighter than anticipated. My chosen quilt design was Delectable Mountains in the Fons and Porter Quilts From the Henry Ford. Would this light aqua disappear against the rose covered background? Is it just too pale? But I loved it so - and it reminded me of the aqua waters of the rivers and streams we have traveled by on our trips to Alaska. And it goes so well in our bedroom...Plus I had 4 3/4 yards... Last summer I began the center medallion - a hand pieced circle with diamonds. My applique experience was hardly off the ground but I stuck with it and thought the results were nice....
 Misgiving #2 - to my disappointment, when I started adding the pieced HST borders last week, I discovered that things looked way, way off...the center medallion was not positioned correctly on the background. The only thing to do is handpiece a new center medallion, lesson learned and get it positioned correctly this time!
What I like about this project is using Triangles On A Roll for making HST's - when the directions call for almost 400 of those little puppies, TOAR is the best answer. Here is how I do it:
The 2 strips of fabrics are cut at 6" wide (running selvedge to selvedge) and placed right sides together with the Triangle paper pinned on top. For this quilt, I am making 2" finished HST's.
The sewing machine is set up for a very close stitching length. This will make it easier to remove the "perforated" paper later. Needle down to allow for easier pivoting and continuous sewing...

Stitching on the dotted lines, follow the directions of the arrows until all sewing lines have been covered.


If you enlarge the image, you can see the line of stitching on the paper pattern.

Now, you can start cutting the paper patterns apart...you will be cutting on the center solid line this time. Use a rotary cutter fitted with a blade you keep just for paper.


The paper pattern is easily removed along the perforated sewing lines. then press open.
Ready for a final trim check...
There are multiple ways to make HST's - you probably have a favorite...I find when multiple units need to be constructed and you are working with 2 colors, Triangles On A Roll are very efficient. and so the Process continues...
All for now - thinking I will go back to work on some more applique - just heard from our Jena that our son Dave, and his friend, Scott were stuck overnight - in the cold - somewhere along the Denali Highway enroute to a remote lodge. My mind is playing images that are understandable to all Mothers - no matter the age of our children. More comfort and therapy needed until we hear the full story...stay tuned for Part 2.


Tomorrow I turn 67 - today I feel a little older than that...

Pat






Sunday, February 20, 2011

I Took A Little Walk....

Saturday afternoon - put on my muck boots and the old trusty, faded red barn coat...took the key from the hallway closet and headed out the door....
 I had some company along the way....can I go with you...let's not tell the others...just you and me...

Our paws feet touched bare ground - the first time since November in our yard...
There was a little stretch of snow cover to negotiate through but the going was easy...
A few herbs were revealed and I could not resist touching the thyme plants that greeted me...even on a cold February day, their fragrance lingered on my fingertips....

I unlocked the door and stepped inside and I felt Spring tucked into the corners of my potting shed - just waiting to be let free...she whispered to me....soon...

A new set of seed trays await....
 
...and the realization that other chores must be done when warmer days arrive...restaining the shed siding; digging up the brick edging around the herb garden and replacing it with landscape timbers for easier maintenance...windows that need attention and some paint...all activities that can be done outside...

It is now Sunday afternoon and knowing...it is going to be awhile....ugh...it's not over yet...

Back to the quilting room and will post a "I Took the Process Pledge" project in a few days...

From snowy northern Wisconsin...
Pat



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"S" Is For Seeds...



"S" is for Seeds...such a simple little word - for such a miracle. If you are a gardener, the weeks following Christmas & New Years can be magical  in its own way. Each day might bring another seed catalog to the mailbox. Perhaps a favorite company that you return to year after year, perhaps a brand new name which has you eagerly exploring the glossy pages. For those of us in northern climates, it can be "the dream time." While the snow piles up outside and adds layers to the gardening beds, we gather up the newly arrived publications, a cup of something warm and comforting and find a comfy chair by the fire. A red marking pencil is clutched in our hands and the journey begins. 

Each page reveals wonders - packets of seeds in sizes that will be more than adequate for the home gardener with a small area, to seeds by the pound for those who take their harvests to a local Farmers Market come summer. From January to March, the winter-bound gardener knows that all things are possible - every seed planted will yield flowers and vegetables beyond our wildest dreams....one just has to read the descriptions to know that is true.

"I don't believe the half I hear,
Nor the quarter of what I see!
But I have one faith, sublime and true,
That nothing can shake or slay;
Each Spring I firmly believe anew
All the seed catalogs say!"

(Carolyn Wells)


"A masterpiece of size and flavor..."
"Blooms like big pink snowballs..."

A winter squash called Amazonka that "behaves decorously in the garden..."
Mizuna - "light & graceful, these feathery mustards float in the slightest breeze, the garden's corps of ballet dancers..."
An imported Asian cucumber that is "demurely burpless...:"

My red marking pencil goes to town...I certainly want my squash to behave decorously!
Just yesterday, the first seed order has arrived...what potential awaits...


Webster defines the word seed as - that part of a plant from which a new one will grow. How mundane a description for the life contained within its protective shell.  To plant a little seed in its own tiny pot or to sow a row in a raised bed, is to connect with our earth on such a basic level. We mark the newly planted pot or area and wait for the time when that first little break in the soil appears. Then the new seedling puts forth its first set of true leaves and we hover over it like a mother watching her newborn.We water, weed and guard these young plants knowing that the harvesting will repay us many times over.

Seeds - such a simple word - for such a miracle

"The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies..."
(Gertrude Jekyll)

Thank you for dropping by today - I hope you enjoyed your visit!
Be sure to visit all the other "S" posts over at Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.











Sunday, February 13, 2011

Log Cabin Love Affair...

Were you wondering where this post was headed with a title like that?

Since Barbara Brackman's week #7 block for the Civil War Quilt is Log Cabin, and that just happens to be one of my all time favorite quilt patterns...thought maybe we could revisit a couple of my earlier Log Cabin completed quilts too. If you are a regular visitor, they may look familiar...if you are new to my blog, I hope you enjoy the Show 'n Tell.  Seems like ages since I shared anything that was totally done! And it is going to be a loooonng time before that happens again!! Too many projects going that are long term...

So here is my completed log cabin block for week #7...It is different from the Block of the Week - I prefer narrower logs in my block & like to use more colors. And, my block is square...I did a poor job of cropping the image!

Our copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin - it belonged to my Dad and he was born in 1918, so this book has been well used by a number of generations...and well read!


This log cabin quilt is our summer coverlet - when the nights are warm and the windows are wide open to let in fresh air, the soft '30's reproduction fabrics remind me that the gardens are blooming and we have made it through another long winter.

And a red and green log cabin that usually comes out for the holidays...this was made in 1995 when I still had the shop and no time to hand quilt. Off it went to a very gifted Mennonite lady in Pennsylvania - her name was Polly and she quilted down the middle of each log cabin strip. I thought it not only emphasized the pattern but gave it additional appeal by "narrowing" down the strips. Polly also quilted the '30's reproduction quilt for me.

This quilt was started in late 1999 and finished a few days after 9/11....I decided to reverse tie it and used a very lofty batt as the intention was to have a warm, cozy comforter for the bed.  I worked on the binding late at night, watching the news unfold and feeling numb. But working with fabric can bring the best kind of comfort and peace. I particularly like the tiny 1 1/2"  9-patch units that serve as the center of each block. This was inspired by an antique quilt I saw years ago in a magazine.


My Chugach Memories quilt made to reflect our love of Alaska...as you can see, each block is a vairation of a log cabin block and placed on point.

Yes,  I love log cabins - the quilts, living in one, and we use logs to keep us warm in the winter.We just love logs....
 

A couple of design books about log cabins and some special items from my friend, Dee...she lives in a log cabin too - they are "tundra south" and we are "tundra north."

       
Guess what I found this week - Dot's - Valentine's Day packaging!!
 
I am thinking Tootsie has most of the Holidays covered now...wait a minute...how about St. Patrick's Day?
Signing off for now and will close with the hand-made card my friend Chris sent....I love the bee skep skirt on the lady...what a sweet card!

Wishing each of you a Happy Valentine's Day...
Pat













Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Let The Rivers Run...






Water - oceans, lakes, streams and ponds - each has its own mesmerizing feature. The pounding surf that brings countless grains of sand from distant lands to the quiet lapping of gentle waters against a little boat dock...bodies of water contain and sustain life in endless forms on our planet.

Born in Miami, raised in Virginia with numerous summer visits to the Eastern Shore, being around water was a part of my younger years. (though for whatever odd reason, I never learned to swim beyond a clumsy dog paddle). When we moved to Wisconsin, our first house overlooked the Wisconsin River. Based on artifacts I unearthed as I worked the garden, a knowledgeable friend told us our land was once the site of an Indian village perhaps as old as 500 years. The river would have been a vital location for the tribe. We have settled farther North away from the river and view a pond from our deck that satisfies the love of water at this time in our lives.

When we travel, I always take note of the vast rivers we cross. The Mississippi; a curve of the Missouri River that once saw Lewis and Clark travel on as they explored the upper reaches of what would become South Dakota and Montana; the Columbia and the Rio Grande.

The milky blue waters of the Toad River in British Columbia have a special spot on my list of rivers. The Toad becomes part of the Laird which flows into the Yukon River and eventually empties into the Bering Sea which mixes with the Arctic Ocean. Rivers connect us around the globe, offering transportation, food sources and power along with their flowing beauty.

One of my favorite pieces of music is "Old and Lost Rivers" by 20th century composer Tobias Picker. Listen to it and close your eyes.. float slowly down some unknown waterway and feel its heartbeat.

"R' is for Rivers...

Be sure to visit other "R" postings at Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.




Monday, February 7, 2011

A SUPER Weekend!

Before we talk other stuff, let's just get this taken care of right off the top..a fair and well played game for both teams and a good example of what great football can be.
Front page - Monday morning paper...our local paper...



That is quite a moment - and now we are all starting to breath again here in Wisconsin! Let the celebrations begin...and Mr. Outback had the official Championship cap ordered before the Lombardi trophy made it around the stadium..

Now, where were we - oh yes...in addition to being glued to the Super Bowl on TV, I somehow managed to get Block #6 done from Barbara Brackman's weekly Civil War Quilt Blocks.

Like a lot of you who are also doing this series, I found this block to be a bit touchy and ended up with much smaller seam allowances than usual. But, it is done and measures 8 1/2" (8" finished). I also revisited my copy of Mary Chesnut's Diary which Barbara referred to in her blog entry. This is not a book you sit down and read straight through...at least for me, it wasn't years ago...each of the diary entries are little microcosms of her daily life, what was going on around her at home and far away and the steady advance of the affects of being at war in her own backyard.

With our long winters, I tend to go through a number of books - often reading on the treadmill or a few pages as I drift off to sleep at night. This is a little stack of recently completed books..

The Distant Hours by Kate Morgan - a bit of a departure in some respects from her first two novels & took me a while to get into the story. But her attention to detail is so beautiful...and you can finally start putting the clues together...
Huck by  Janet Elder - a sweet & true little tale about a lost dog and how a family & neighborhood pulled together - but could have been told in far fewer pages. Written by one of the editors of the New York Times, I wonder where her editing pencil was??
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - where to start??? I don't often read "war" accounts and granted this book was so difficult and heartbreaking for a good portion of it - but ultimately, what an uplifting story. All the words I can think of sound so trite,  but if you are looking for what the human spirit is capable of - this is it. A true WWII  Survivor accounting without any whining...Excellent read.
And finally  - a return to one of the classics - Willa Cather's My Antonia...
 
And as always, back in the sewing room where I am making yards and yards of 1/4" bias tape with my handy Clover bias tape maker....prepping a couple of blocks for Beyond the Cherry Tree...I was having so much fun making the tape, I couldn't stop...
More about that in the next post...that is it for now - have to go unwind a little more and start dinner! No Monday Night Football - what is Mr. Outback supposed to do??? Maybe he can help cut fabric???

Have a SUPER week and...
Always take time to stitch...

Pat - one of a gazillion happy Cheeseheads!!





Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Q" is for Quilter - of course!

Pale winter sunlight comes in through the window and touches my Grammy's quilts. There are two that have survived and they both are normally folded and out of direct sunlight but this morning I have brought them down from the shelf to visit with them once again. One is a Double Wedding Ring, made for my parents when they were newly married in 1943.



Over the years, it received much use and washing. It was not intended to be packed away in a trunk. Sections of the rings have disappeared but the quilting stitches have held up well. The second quilt is appliqued - not sure of the exact pattern name - it might be a version of the Dresden Plate...perhaps a Laura Wheeler design??


I don't recall if this was made for a special occasion. It is still in good condition and I feel it did not receive a lot of use. Distant memories tug at me when I look at it - a few of the little plaids remind me of dresses that were worn when growing up. If I had to date this particular quilt, it seems to fit into the early '50's. There are no visions imprinted in my mind of Grammy quilting - I can only imagine. I  do recall that she was a prolific seamstress and used a treadle sewing machine for years. Even as a young adult, I eagerly wore a gorgeous shocking pink wool suit that she made for me from a Vogue pattern. Grammy was born in the 1890's and went through the Depression Years as a wife and mother to 3 children, my Dad being the only son. Dad says he can remember shopping with her in Martinsburg, West Virginia where they lived. There was a department store that offered a wide variety of merchandise, including a Notions section with a huge selection of buttons. Dad states that it seemed like Grammy would carefully examine each and every button on display while he would fidget with typical little boy impatience.

Other than her family, there were two things in her life that defined her as a person - her strong Christian faith and her love of sewing. She experienced some difficult times throughout her life and I believe making quilts brought her a measure of peace and comfort.

From French Canadian stock, my maternal Grandma (Wisconsin) made simple tied quilts with wool batts to warm the12 children in the family. She was more concerned with usefulness although I have heard she created endless yards of tatted lace in her "spare time."  I don't know of any quilts that remain...But evidently, quilting genes were passed on and I have become what is known as a "quilter." There is a picture in my mind of both Grandmother's in Heaven - arms linked and shaking their heads - saying -"look at that Granddaughter with an entire room devoted to nothing but quilting...in all our born days, such a sight."

For much of the year, my days revolve around this passion. There might be a brief period during the summer months when the garden beckons and intense sewing gets pushed to the back. I cannot imagine being without this way of life. There are days when I eat, sleep, dream and think of nothing but quilts...one could say it is an obsession, but there are far worse things to be addicted to in this world. A project that has me stumped or so excited as it progresses has often kept me awake at night...tossing and turning. At one point in my journey, quilting took me into the world of starting up a shop. It remains one of the most satisfying things I have epver done. But what I took away from that was something far greater...friendships formed - true and lasting. Because all quilters speak the same language and totally understand each other, even when there are no words, the bond is made and you are forever linked. The world of quilts has led me to Australia, the AQS show in Paducah, Kentucky, a number of quilt markets to purchase inventory for the store, Guild bus trips, Liberty Ladies trips with sister quilt history buffs and more little road trips with buddies than I can count.The last two years, through blogging, have opened a whole new avenue and online friends.
Whatever the reason we quilt, once bitten, we fall hard. Is it the creativity, self expression or the love of color? Is it the knowledge that while those quilts are being made, each stitch holds a private thought, a prayer, a wish or a dream? It is all of that and more - I am a Quilter and that has come to define me.

"Q" is the letter of the week over at Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. Be sure to visit all the other "Q" postings from the wonderful blogs listed.