"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."
Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, October 31, 2010

NOTHING SAYS LOVE LIKE A QUILT

Simple Gifts and my sister's baby quilt arrived at their destination in Tennessee, delivered in hand by my brother and his wife.  My brother lives in NC and drove a U-Haul with some furniture for the young couple's new home and a crib for the baby, doing a wild drive involving wrong turns through the mountains.  

No harm done, and our nephew and his lovely wife loved the quilts, as you can see below.  What a special talent we quilters possess, the ability to sew our love and care into the seams of a gift that will outlive us. 


Here's are the expectant parents with the quilt I made, called Simple Gifts:

 And, here with the quilt my sister made:  
 
I'm already looking forward to a trip to Tennessee for a visit with these dear ones and their baby, who will be arriving on the scene in December.  

KITTY RETURNS

This morning I looked out in the yard to find Cassy and a large gold tabby cat hanging out together.  What the heck?  That went on for a while and then the cat got a drink from the pond and went on to her next social engagement.  I suspect she is not a stray, as she is very well socialized and apparently fond of dogs. 

Then, this afternoon, an old friend returned, you can just see her on the top of the steps

 When we first moved to this house, about 3.5 years ago, this cat was out and about and obviously a stray.  We didn't have a fence then and she would wander through every day.  Knowing she was a stray, I started to put a bowl of food out and every day at 4 she would come by for her dinner.  Then the fence went up, and time went by and we hadn't seen her for about a year, I figured she was gone completely.  

Today, at 5 or so, I looked out the window and there was Kitty, sitting on the top of the ledge, staring at the house, exactly the way she would had I previously dared to forget to put out her dinner.  I dumped a can of food in a bowl and Anna ran it out to the top step and kitty hid for a bit but returned and ate for a long time, savoring each bite it seemed.  

The neighbors have told us that prior to us moving to the neighborhood, a home on an adjacent street was occupied by an elderly gentleman who had a cat population that went out of control.  When he went to a nursing home, they removed over 50 cats and kittens from his home, and there were nearly that many as strays on the hill behind our house.  Animal Control was able to trap many of those strays but eventually stopped with their efforts, and apparently Kitty is one that was left to the wild.  I would like to trap her and take her to the feral spay/neuter clinic and then return her to the wild, but I suspect she's a bit too wise to enter a trap.   


So, it's time to put an old blanket into the shed in case Kitty or this morning's tabby cat decide to use the hole in the door to get sheltered on the cold nights ahead. 

COLORADO

Have finished a quilt for my brother and his wife, who recently returned to the mountains of Colorado, after a number of years in New Mexico.  

I thought this Kaffe Fasset Earthy S Quilt absolutely captured the colors of Colorado (which are my favorite colors).  The only color missing is the color of the sky, which would be hard to capture any way.  







I had made this same quilt for my daughter, only in the Yellow S fabrics.  This fabric is the shot cotton and it's what makes the colors so marvelous.  BUT, the fabric is not great fun to work with, especially fussy cutting it into strips.  There is a stretch and shred to it that can make things turn wonky in a heart beat.  My OCD caused me to tear apart a number of the blocks to get them to square better.  And, once you take apart the pieces that comprise one of these blocks, then you are totally in wonky land and all bets are off.  

In spite of all that, I am really pleased with the final product, which came out exactly square somehow. 

 The quilting was done, again, by Jan Barnet, and I love it.  She really knows how to let a quilt shine. 

And, of course, no quilt is complete until you drive yourself mental with machine embroidering a label.  I don't know why it makes me so nuts, but it does, and right now I'm not pleased with the shape of the letters, but it gets the message across.  Originally, I had a label quilted into the back and I must have been mental because I used a very saturated blue fabric with white lettering and it completely destroyed the beauty of the back and the quilting.  So, I picked and prodded and tweezed that label out from under the quilting lines and added a label to a lower corner.  I always want my labels to be quilted in, but on this quilt, I destroyed that idea. 














PROGRESS ON DIAGONAL MADNESS

I'm still sewing away on Diagonal Madness, and have turned the corner on the inner section.  A couple of rows ago I finally got my rhythm established for picking the pieces for a row and assembling by chaining as much as I can.  It always takes me a while on a complicated quilt to get that groove going, but I'm in it now.  

Here's what half a Diagonal Madness looks like


I'm making this for friends John and Nancy and we had dinner out with them last night.  I had to deliver the news that this will not be on their wall for the Xmas season.  I just have too many other projects to start and finish before then.  Now I'm shooting for Valentine's Day.  I love making and giving a quilt to family and close friends.  I know that the quilt will be around long after I'm gone, and Nancy and John's children will look at the label on it and remember me and the fun our two families had together, skiing at Sunday River and sharing time on Sebago Lake in Maine. 

Here's another view


I love making this quilt but have to add that there is a reason it's called Madness!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

SATURDAY MORNING AT THE ZOO

Dave's gone off to his Saturday morning Yoga torture session (in a 95 degree room) and it's me and the critters sliding into the day.  Anna's gone to row a boat in Saratoga Springs, NY, and Paul's at U Mass Amherst for the Halloween weekend.  

Quiet and sunny and peaceful, even Misty and Reesie spent some time enjoying each other's company (a rare event) 


It was such an inviting scene that Cassy decided she wanted in, and so I was able to capture all three darlings in one spot (another rare event)


Alas, Reesie and Cassy could not resist the call of the wild, and this bucolic scene deteriorated into this


It looks like a hug, and perhaps they do give each other a hug to say good luck in the upcoming wrestling match, but that hug doesn't last long, that's for sure. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

REESIE KITTEN

Here she is, at 6 months.  She is a beast and has a lot of growing left to do.  She weighs more than Misty and I wonder if she's going to weigh as much as Cassy (20 lbs.) when she's done growing.  

I love this photo, it captures the whole cat thing so perfectly.  "You think I'm going to stare at that darn camera like the dogs do?  You've got to be kidding me, I'm much too dignified for that."  

LET'S PLAY THE COLOR AND PATTERN GAME

 We got a joyous call yesterday from a cousin in Pennsylvania, she had a great grand daughter born!  And, she asked if I'd make a quilt for the baby and of course I will.  


I have a collection of fabrics on hand I've been wanting to do something smashing with, and perhaps this is the occasion.  


Here's the pattern I'm going to use:  





And, here's the fabric collection.  You can't see it well but the fuschia fabric has a wheat pattern in it.  



OK now you can tell me which fabric to use where, I've numbered them 1-6.  I won't disclose my ideas til you tell me yours.  






Tuesday, October 26, 2010

INDIAN SUMMER IN NEW ENGLAND

What glorious weather, this thing we call Indian Summer.  It's the last gasp before the cold air settles in for good, a time for the farmers to finish their chores before the grounds freeze.  

It's 70 degrees and simply lovely here, the color on the trees in our neighborhood is just about done.  I wanted to capture some of that color before it's all on the ground.  

The leaves from our maple have clogged the pond and waterfall, so that season is over, but there's still plenty of beauty around. 



Dave really knocked himself out this summer, designing and planting the gardens around the waterfall (which is cut into the ledge).  He's done some great work with decorative grasses and also with tucking low plants into the nooks and crannies of the ledge.  

 Here's Miss Cassy, surveying her kingdom from one of her many perches in the yard.  She's especially grateful to Dave for all his work, it's made the yard a much more interesting space to watch over.  
 And, here's Misty, asking that age-old question "Where am I and how did I get here?"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

FALL IN NEW ENGLAND

Here's what we did yesterday


Nope, I'm not out bird watching, I'm boat watching:


Dear daughter Anna is on the crew team in a boat of 4 for a college in Boston and they had a regatta on the Merrimack River in Pembroke, New Hampshire, yesterday.  The wind was wild and presented some challenges to the boaters.  In spite of that, it was a lovely day and fun event.  And, after the brutally hot summer we had here in New England, I have sworn I WILL NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE COLD, so I will not.  Truth of the matter is, if this had been on a 95 degree day I would not have been there, so the weather was perfect for me.  

Here's what rowing does does to the hands:


And, here is what it does to the spirit:

Friday, October 15, 2010

FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE SEWING ROOM

It's a peaceful Friday here at the homestead, I've got nowhere I have to be and so have been working on Diagonal Madness.  

I put two rows at a time up on the wall

Then I sew the 4 patches for the two rows and then sew the rows.  Once that's done, I sew the rows onto the main quilt which at this point looks like this:
 I'm really pleased with the way it's coming together.   It's not a quilt you can make in a weekend, week or even month.  But, the results are amazing and well worth the work.  

I had my sidekicks with me in the sewing room, as usual.  It's a chilly, windy, day here in New England and I bet that nap in the sunshine feels darn good.  
Poor Cassy got the short end of the stick.  Misty and Reesie have taken over her bed in the sun.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

SIMPLE GIFTS

SIMPLE GIFTS 
(a couple of the less familiar verses)

 'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.

I have just finished making a quilt for our nephew Scott and his wife Meg, in Tennessee, who are expecting a baby girl in December.  The shower is October 22 and I need to get this shipped off in time.  


I have named this quilt Simple Gifts, after that hymn.  It is one of the many songs I sang to our children, rocking them when they were babies, and so I thought it was a good name for this quilt.  




I pieced it out of a pile of fat quarters and had no ideas in mind as I started out.  I just knew I wanted it to be sweet and simple, and I believe I was successful in meeting that goal.  


Such simple blocks can make a lovely quilt.  


The quilting was done by Janet Barnet of Marblehead, Mass., on her long-arm.  I love her work, because she doesn't quilt the daylights out of the quilts she handles.  As you can see, she chose a simple swirl that forms a heart.  Jan is the person who got me on the quilting road, as my first instructor.  She is very talented and bright and a great teacher.  The quilt that I made under her competent instruction is called Blue Skies and a picture of it is posted earlier in this Blog.  

 
And, of course, no quilt is complete without a label.  My Pfaff Creative does great embroidery but I find it tedious, the loading and running of the words.  However, the results are worth it.  
 


My sister Christine has made a quilt for this baby also, and I stole a picture from her blog to display here.  We didn't consult on our intended designs, but ended up with two completely different quilts.  Is this a lucky baby or what?  Here's Christine's quilt:  


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SCHNIFFLAGER LOJ

Last week David and I took a few days off to spend time up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  We have a condominium on the west side of the mountains, in the lovely town of Lincoln, New Hampshire, home to Loon Mountain.  On the other side of the mountains, we co-own a cabin built in 1942 by a bunch of very interesting, dynamic and intrepid young men upon their return from the war.  The cabin is located in Pinkham Notch, north of Jackson, New Hampshire. 

One of the men who co-owned the cabin back in the 40's is Ed, father to dear friends Scott and Glenn.  They grew up visiting the Schnifflager and skiing and hiking and eventually having some amazing parties there in later years.  I started going up to the Schniff in the later years, and then dragged husband Dave and other friends along.  Everyone fell in love with the place  Then, through a bunch of bizarro events, we now co-own the cabin with Scott and Glenn.  

So, we went over to the cabin and were relieved to see that it is still standing:  




 It is perched on the side of what we call "heart attack hill."  You park at the bottom and walk up, there's no other way to get there.  

Here's Dave walking up the hill as if it's flat ground, darn him:  



 And, here he is again, in the kitchen of the cabin.  All the comforts of home!!



Here's proof positive that I can still make it up the hill and still love the cabin, however, you may notice that I've not brought my jammies with me.  I'm headed back to the condo on the other side of the mountains for a hot shower, warm toilet, and other creature comforts.  



It's a wonderful place, this Schnifflager Loj.  We have the journals, which begin in 1942 and continue on to present day.  Fascinating reading, a lot of it unintelligible and I ain't saying why.  


Our children, Paul and Anna, will likely some day be the care takers of the Loj.  I know they can be trusted to guard it and enjoy it and make sure it stays alive.  I hope that some day they will bring their children there and spend days sliding on the rocks in the Ellis River across the road or hiking into Ellis Falls.  This is a place where kids can lose themselves in nature and card playing by the fire and love it all.  

And, we know the place will stand for a long time, as a number of years back we had the underpinnings replaced and the deck I'm standing on was built.  Can you imagine we actually found someone to carry all the lumber up heart attack hill and do the work.  


Here's a picture of those underpinnings.  Dave is making himself mad in this photo, searching for a key he had hidden under the house. 



And, of course, no cabin is complete without one of these:  

  
And, that's just another reason why I head back to Lincoln.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

BAPTISMAL QUILT#6

Just finished another quilt for a baptism this Sunday.  Got only 10 days notice and since I'll be away for a few days here, I got it done in 5 days.  How does this happen anyway, we planned our children's baptisms quite a bit in advance. 

Have decided to do all the baptism quilts the same pattern and with a muslin back.  This cuts out the amount of time and cuts down the expense dramatically.  And, it makes a nice light baby quilt.  this is the same pattern that the Downy Quilts for Kids project uses.  

I had both fabrics on hand so it was easy to get rolling very fast on this one:  


I am a novice machine quilter and only do straight lines from one edge to the other, and never too close together.  I did get brave on this quilt and started some of the lines within the borders, using my machine tack at the beginning and end of the line.  One set of the lines is 2.5 inches apart and the other is double that.  I don't dare do too close together both ways, I know I'll end up with puckers and waves. 



Here's what the back looks like, and you can see I would have gotten in trouble had I quilted too close.  Have gotten some tips from My Friend Sue on how to stay out of trouble, and one of them is to not put the lines so darn close.  

I really enjoyed making this quilt, even though it was in a bit of a rush.  After 2 years of quilting, I felt totally confident making this quilt and really felt like I knew what I was doing EVERY step of the way.  It was a really good feeling to have stored all the steps and tips into my addled brain.  Even though this is a very simple quilt, I know that the tips and steps are pretty much the same for all quilts.  

Now, I can back to Diagonal Madness, waiting on the wall.