Settler’s Trail quilt

Settler’s Trail quilt

Monday, November 11, 2019

Back on track...sort of...

Hope this short post gives me the kick start needed to get back in to the sewing/quilting mode. After being in “wool acquisition” denial, I have caved in to this popular approach to stitching. For a couple of years, I vowed to not get drawn in - my friends would tempt me with their ongoing projects using gorgeously rich hand dyed wools and speak in another language with words such as Valdani threads, chenille or embroidery needles, Steam-A-Seam or Heat and Bond...who knew?
Then, a wonderful shop opened a few months ago nearby - only a 20 minute drive - The Woolgathering in Merrill, Wisconsin (check out Roxie’s photos on Facebook - she does beautiful work)
(No affiliation - just a happy customer!)

Sooo...am starting out on the small side...
From my newest favorite book - Bowl Me Over


Made the tiny Tree pillow first and then  - like potato chips when you can’t just eat one...


The original thought was to place these in one of our burl bowls that we brought back from Alaska...but obviously, things got out of hand and I am going to need a larger container - perhaps a basket?? 
Ok - then a delightful Santa caught my eye - 


He is in place on the background and I am ready to hunt through my embroidery flosses so the embellishments can begin.


And lastly - while at our annual Fall retreat a week ago, Roxie had little sheep kits prepared - so a lot of us gobbled those up and went home with our completed pin...

I may be in trouble here...but it sure is fun to be back on track...

Happy stitching everyone and have a good week!

Pat 






Monday, November 4, 2019

Life in a suitcase...

Seems like the last month has been lived out of a suitcase! Have just returned from yet another adventure - our annual 5 day Fall Retreat which is all about friends, food and fun and lots of fabric thrown in. I even have one special friend who lives in the southern part of Wisconsin and drives Up North every year to join us bringing along a very large suitcase packed with her quilting projects & a much smaller one for clothes - I love her priorities!
This year, I just could not deal with packing any thing major to work on and had no large quilt projects prepped in advance. So focused on some little handwork items and even then I approached them quite lazily (is that even a word?)

Have you seen Debbie Busby’s new book? (That Patchwork Place) It is really a hit around our neck of the woods. Got one little pillow done and others prepped. Will be back later to show the completed group. 

Managed to finally get arms and legs attached to a pair of Gail Wilson dolls that have been partially assembled for years and really need to be completed...

Next step is tinting the dolls and fabric for the clothing...
Other than that, some slow stitching on my Rowdy Flat Library Quilt - have received Block #3 and my fingers always are itching to work on this when it arrives in the mail from Australia.

So...back to that suitcase thing...and a wrap up on our journey to England and Wales. On the previous post, I left you with a brief tour of our time in Wales. On October 17th, we packed up and left our B & B and headed to Cardiff where the rental car was returned and we boarded the train for the return trip to London. We had reserved an apartment for our 5 day stay and it served as a convenient base to operate out of.

Oh my! London is huge, busy and filled with way too much to see in such a brief stay but we managed to hit some of the high spots despite being in the middle of major Brexit protests which disrupted everything (including public transportation). Add in another important protest against the situation in Turkey and Syria - and it made for some historical and thought-provoking moments. 

We spent most of a day just at the Victoria and Albert Museum - it would take months to take in everything. 
A magnificent Dale Chihuly glass sculpture greeted us as we entered the main area - 



Exhibit after exhibit put us on sensory overload...exquisite artifacts from dozens of countries, displays of china and textiles (sadly, all the quilts are in a separate building for which you need to make an appointment - had we known) and even the mosaic floors we walked on served to keep us awe-struck.


We had a tour of the Churchill War Rooms - absolutely a must! Everything is just as it was when WW II ended in 1945 and Prime Minister Churchill and his staff left the underground bunker. Papers and maps with pins still in place showing the Operation Overlord/D-Day, Churchill’s bedroom (reportedly he hardly ever slept, being riveted on how to achieve victory) and in the next room, his wife, Clementine, who chose a more feminine look.  (Wonder what King George and Queen Mary were thinking while visiting their Prime Minister in his bedroom/sitting area...hopefully the chamber pot was tucked out of sight!) 


The London Pass; the Oyster Card; learning how use The Tube; deciding on which restaurant to eat in - London being a city of multi-cultures and therefore, amazing foods!

Viewing the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London (no photos permitted) and visiting Liberty of London for fabric...so many memories and so many things yet to see...

It is comforting to be back home again though - I think the suitcase is stored away for awhile...but I have not deleted the British Airways app from my phone...

Pat






Saturday, October 26, 2019

Planes, trains and automobiles...

...the Hop On/Hop Off...and the Tube...
Recovering from jet-lag, but back home at Taylorsoutback in the northwoods after a whirlwind trip to England and Wales...the quietness of our surrounding fields and woods is a huge contrast to our 2+ weeks of travel...

From left to right...Kathy, Jan and Linda...

Along with three of my long time quilting buddies, we flew into Heathrow, took the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and ultimately arrived at our London hotel for our first one night stay before boarding another train at Kings Crossing the next morning...

Onto Leeds for a 3 day stay...this town is known for its history of textile mills and present day shopping/market opportunities. And we had booked a day long private tour - our driver was Chris from York, whose knowledge of the area, centuries old history and little known facts made for a true learning opportunity. The beauty of the Yorkshire Dales, a long held wish to visit the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth and see the moors where Charlotte, Emily and Anne walked was finally realized.
Flocks of sheep dot the hillsides - the majority of these fluffy, four legged creatures are bred for their meat, rather than wool. Personally, I have always found it difficult to try lamb - just can’t get pass those wooly faces! 


What can I say about the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth - if you share a love of the Bronte sisters books and poetry with me - you will understand how it feels to actually walk in their footsteps and see how everything has been preserved in the house they lived...I was truly in the Moment!
We visited the ancient Bolton Abbey, one of the many places King Henry VIII ordered to be closed following his break from the Catholic Church. 

End of day - The Lock, atop the Doubletree Hilton in Leeds,  and glasses of wine..;

All too soon, we packed up and picked up our rental car and headed out of Leeds on a quiet Sunday morning - next stop...Wales...the land of my ancestors. Putting 4 quilters in a rental car that has the steering controls on the Right Side and remembering to drive on the Left Side while easing into countless Round-Abouts with multiple exits was quite the experience...our intrepid driver, Linda, did incredibly well handling the car and our navigator, Jan, kept track of the car’s built in GPS - this was definitely a pilot/co-pilot requirement! Kathy and I sat in the back seats and (for the most part) tried to keep quiet - but often all 4 of us were laughing so hard - how many times can you go around a Round-About??? 


Did I mention the winding roads in Wales are very narrow and each side is lined with tall hedges? And tiny, one lane bridges that are suitable for pony carts, not autos...

We safely arrived in Abergavenney, Wales and found Hardwick Farm where we were to stay - it is a working dairy farm - Carol runs the B & B and her husband, Cyril, manages the large herd of milk cows. We were warmly welcomed with cups of tea and slices of fruit bread - if you want to be immersed in Welsh hospitality, I highly recommend staying there...so much more personal than a hotel room. Each morning, the day started with a full breakfast, prepared to our own order with sausages or bacon and the best ever local Apple Juice. 


For four days, we chose different spots to visit...Ragland Castle, dating back to the 15th Century...

Tintern Abbey...founded in 1131and later, like all the other abbys, dissolved by King Henry VIII...


St. Mary’s Priory/Tithe Barn - the site of an immense canvaswork tapestry (24’ X 6’), completed in 2006 by 60 stitchers and dedicated by Prince Charles 
(No photos allowed, image from Google)


Brecon Beacons National Park...





(Yellow gorse - Tree of Movement - very prickly!)

Visits to local pubs and eateries...a memorable lemon tart...

At the end of the day on our last full day at Hardwick Farms...Carol got us outfitted in proper wellies and we toured the home of their dairy cows...this is a large operation and boasts 3 complete robotic milking stations...who knew a cow could be milk by a robot? 21st century technology and it pays off as the Hardwick Farm is an awarding winning milk producer. 
We changed into different wellies after a foot bath and visited the calfs who were located in a separate area...more computer technology to ensure the calves receive proper nutrition after being separated from their mums...
The next day...onto Cardiff where the rental car was returned (giving our Linda a HUGE sigh of relief!) and onto a 30 minute run by train back to London...
Will be back soon with that portion of our trip...hope you were not bored reading the travelogue! 
Stitching? Well actually, yes...in the evening back in our spacious sitting/bedrooms room - feet up, a glass of wine and needle in hand.

Meanwhile...”Keep a welcome in the hillside...” (from a Welsh song) 

Pat



Sunday, September 29, 2019

By the shores of Gitchi Gami...(lots of photos)

...from which we have just returned...a week on the North Shore of Lake Superior...

It is impossible to take it all in - this vast body of water “The Shining-Big-Sea-Water” from The Song of Hiawatha...
Along with our Dave and Jena, the four of us tried to see as much as possible in a much too short amount of time...Grand Marais was our base of operation...
The beautifully reconstructed North West Company Fort - Grand Portage National Monument which served as an important partnership with the fur trade activity and the Anishinaabeg Ojibwe culture. 

The interior of the main building was well-appointed with furnishings appropriate to the time period (and the room had a smokey fragrance from a recent warming fire) - china and glassware as well as Native American artifacts. On display is a journal from 1788 - gorgeous condition!

Outside, a replica of a Montreal canoe which was used to bring beaver pelts and supplies along the lake in the Spring after the ice went out...these canoes could be as long as 36 feet.







We enjoyed pleasant walks along the wooded trails - the scent of evergreen and falling leaves filling the air...
A visit to Split Rock Lighthouse is an absolute must! Take the guided tour (ask for Geri - she is so knowledgeable!) - 

The eight month long assignment for 3 lighthouse keepers and their families would have been a challenge as all necessities had to be delivered by ship.
(Highway access was not opened until 1926 - the lighthouse was completed in 1910 with literally everything needed to build both it and the houses, hauled up the side of the cliff from the water below - machinery, mechanisms, bricks, all equipment - and yes, quilts and a Singer sewing machine!)







But wear your comfy walking shoes - lots of steps!! So worth the effort to capture this view from the shore line...



We enjoyed sampling the local restaurants where every meal contained locally sourced produce...and of course morning treats of The World’s Best Donuts...how about a maple bacon long john, anyone?

A special treat from my dear daughter-in-law - an afternoon tea at the Naniboujou Lodge...so peacefully quiet...with views of the Lake...

This Lodge was built in the 1920’s and catered to the wealthy and numerous celebrities such as Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey. The Great Depression seriously impacted its later success but today the lodge is doing well and the large dining room is over the top with color and design...Naniboujou is a Cree Spirit of the Woods and the painted ceilings reflect their culture. It is spectacular!




Hope you enjoyed my little travel log - we were on the go continually and by the end of the day back in the RV, with all the fresh air and walking, it was difficult to stay awake - but I did manage to prep all the 8 pointed stars needed for my project...

So that is about it for now...more adventures to come next week as I prepare to travel Across The Pond to England and Wales with 3 of my quilting friends...a dream trip of 25+ years is on the horizon...

I leave you with these lines from The Song Of Hiawatha - so relevant to us after spending time savoring the rocky shores and woods...
THE SONG OF HIAWATHA. 

" O my children ! my poor children ! 
Listen to the words of wisdom, 
Listen to the words of warning, 
From the lips of the Great Spirit, 
From the Master of Life, who made you ! 

" I have given you lands to hunt in, 
I have given you streams to fish in, 
I have given you bear and bison, 
I have given you roe and reindeer, 
I have given you brant and beaver, 
Filled the marshes full of wild-fowl, 
Filled the rivers full of fishes ; 
Why then are you not contented ? 
Why then will you hunt each other ? 

" I am weary of your quarrels, 
Weary of your wars and bloodshed, 
Weary of your prayers for vengeance, 
Of your wranglings and dissensions ; 
All your strength is in your union, 
All your danger is in discord ; 

Happy stitching and be sure to make your own adventures on our planet...
Pat














Saturday, September 21, 2019

September mornings...

....here at Taylorsoutback, it has been one rain storm after the other...fogs and mist and heavy air...all of which has come together to slow the coloring of leaves as they begin their Fall journey...

We have yet to experience a frost - most unusual...everything is still intensely green and lush...


We have waited all summer for morning glory blooms...finally after seeing nothing but tall vines, they have decided to start their display - all at the top!
But that’s ok...the blossoms remind me of a summer’s blue sky with puffy white clouds...



Still sparks of color in the front garden...



...which is undergoing a workover - reducing the size, moving the stone border in closer and reseeding the exposed area to return it to lawn. Mr. Outback and I are both in our mid-70’s and it is time to lighten the workload and enjoy more deck time...tidying up will hopefully be easier...


The vegetable raised beds are getting cleared out and the house is fragrant with our own tomatoes, garlic and basil in pans roasting in the oven...


Apples are picked, frozen for winter pies and many buckets shared with our neighbors as well as visiting deer.

All this means precious little time in the sewing room but September’s Cheddarback (BOM from Sentimental Stitches) blocks are done.



I am so ready for a bit of “down time” - we are off for a little adventure to chase the Fall colors...

Back later...

Pat

Sunday, August 25, 2019

August, sweet August...

As summer winds down and we move towards September and the changing of seasons, I can’t help but think back on the last 3 months...here at Taylorsoutback in northcentral Wisconsin, summer days flow quickly by...much too fast. In our part of the world, Summer, Fall and Spring are here and gone in a flash but the our winter months seem to hang on and on...So we tend to store up as much good times outdoors as we can to get us through the colder and shorter days to come. For our family, August is the month of birthdays and our wedding anniversary...53 years!

Many years ago, when we first moved to Wisconsin, we had a little 14 foot Shasta trailer and we would visit various campgrounds in the area. Coincidentally, one of the places was located only a few miles from where we live now. While the campground is no longer there, the property has been bought by a very energetic family and one of the huge projects they have taken on is repurposing the original barn that use to serve as the campground check in office. I love old barns and it is always a treat to see one lovingly taken care of.

This weekend, the family opened up the barn to local vendors and staged a “Change of Seasons” craft show. Of course, we had to pay a visit!





The barn looks good and it sure brought back some fond memories...



We walked around the property and along the river that flows behind it...we used to pull our little camper up next to the water and Mr. Outback would head out with his trout fishing gear...

Things have grown up in the last 30+years but it still has that sense of peacefulness you can find by the water...




Another very fun event took place recently - if you live in Wisconsin, there is a very good chance you are a strong Green Bay Packer football fan. It is kind of a requirement actually and yes, we have been known to wear cheeseheads. 

On August 11th, The Pack celebrated 100 seasons in the NFL and they put on a party that included cupcakes, special grass seed packets to grow your own Lambeau Field and lots of other “freebies” - 
We got to watch Training Camp as our team practiced...#12 - Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood...



And a wonderful tour of Lambeau topped off the day...I had no idea how beautiful a football stadium could be!

Of course, we were not allowed to be on the field...but my toes could stand at the edge...


My daughter-in-law and I by the goal post...

Between all the visiting, activities and some heavy duty gardening at the house, I have managed to do a little stitching...very little...
August Cheddarback blocks from Sentimental Stitches are done...


And lots of 1 1/2” diamonds have been prepped for the 6 pointed stars that are needed for Victoria’s Garden...




Meanwhile...the days march on; starlings and flocks of geese are all ready gathering...the nights are delightfully cool for sleeping and Labor Day is on the horizon...

Wishing each of you sweet days, good memories and time to stitch...

Pat