rocket tracking


Friday, December 31, 2010

More NEW Year's Thoughts

Well, I thought I'd be back before the stroke of midnight....but I didn't. I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011. While we don't know what lurks behind the door...I wish you the best.

While I watched the "ball" in Times Square, I thought about this image...all the colors on the ball reminded me of this bathtub full of saltwater taffy in a small ice cream and confectionery shop in Shelburne Falls, MA. Don't you just want to dive in?

Tomorrow, I'll post on my Fast Friday Fabric I predicted, I got a lot done today because the Decadron had me going full bore. I'll pay for it tomorrow. The bad part of it is that I tended to flit from one thing to another, more so than usual.

Here's hoping the next year is as sweet as the candy...but doesn't pull out a filling or a tooth!

And remember, the world is a lot better filled with assorted flavors. Nothing but vanilla and chocolate would be a bit boring.

Preparing for the New Year

I'm probably going to do more than one post today....I had a treatment yesterday and Decadron makes me spin out of control....a steroid which makes you feel like you are on speed, disrupts your sleep cycle and then after three days you crash.

Over on the Quilt Art list, everyone is talking about their "word" for the coming year. This is supposed to be a word which inspires them and keeps them focusing on a particular aspect of their lives and work....or at least it is supposed to.

Last year, I chose "Discipline." Well....I have to tell you, that went right out the window along with all of my other "resolutions." I find them awfully hard to continue with and it ends up being frustrating for me...and trust me, I am full of frustrations and don't need anymore.

I suppose that a prudent solution, if I had my back up against the wall and HAD to choose, it should probably be something like "BE". Be as good as I can and strive for better...but if you don't that's OK....just Be. Be you. Be whatever you want to be in that moment.

Perhaps"BE" also could have an element of discarding that which is unhealthy and up-helpful. I have an incredible memory. I always have. I can remember things which happened when I was REALLY young (like about 15 months old....granted some of them are like snapshots...random things I saw and remembered. Seeing is important....I have an almost photographic memory....not completely...but, for instance, when I read something...sometimes all I have to do is picture the page where I read it....I then see, in my minds eye, the paragraph and what it said...and I remember it. Not completely...but more than enough. My husband's cousin Lourdes has something similar...we both bemoaned the fact that you remember everything....the good and the bad and sometimes the bad is seared into your brain...even if it is not really bad and is just sort of stupid...comments, things you wished you had done differently or didn't handle with aplomb. Perhaps the word "Be" would then allow you to jettison those negative aspects and just look at it and say. " Oh yeah. That's in the past. Over and done with...can't be changed and probably didn't amount to a hill of beans anyway."

For thing which has come to mind lately and makes me cringe greatly is something that happend in about 1984 or so. I was 23 or 25, working in my first job as the shared director of two small historical societies. I would work 2 days a week (theorhetically) in one society, and 3 days in the other and switch every six months. I don't recommend it. However, I had been "adopted" by a local man who was pretty down to earth. I think I probably adopted me because I went to William and Mary, as did he and his wife and all his children. He often came in and he taught me a lot about the town and showed me stuff and introduced me to a lot of interesting people.

Where Jack was down to earth, his wife was pretty ....well...refined. I wouldn't say elegant, as her style was more tennis player, always well dressed, but casually. She grew up in the mid-Atlantic states and was a really nice who thought before she spoke....

She came into the museum one day and looked really good....out of my mouth came "Wow, you look really fat and sassy today!"....and old farm girl saying...coming out of the mouth of the young farm girl to the woman who was her superior in every way and old enough to be her mother....I remember the brief pause as she looked at me....before she said something...and I don't even remember what it was...but that pause and the feeling of my face turning red has stayed with me ever since.

I don't know how you jettison those thoughts...and this is one which verges on the absolutely silly. She probably doesn't remember it....if she is still alive....So...maybe "Be" would have just the ability to soften accept who you are and where you are and look at what is done as done....

However, I would like to take in the mantras of "Put it away while it is still in your hand" and..."do it now." I don't know how I'll be at those either.

And now for a sneaking little bit for those of you living in the United States. Did you know there is going to be a postal increase???? I got word from my on-line mailing service that I would have to download and update because the postal rates were going up. I went into the post office on Tuesday and asked the clerk about it. He knew nothing of any postal rates going up. He told me the the first class regular mail was proposed to go up, but was shot down.

Today, I did a search on it wasn't on the USPS website and one of the things I read somewhere (not the USPS but a second a newspaper or something) said that the rates were going up but to look for the information on the website as of Jan. 1. Well, Poooh. I needed to know if I need to hustle and get the rest of my packages sent to my mom and nieces. researching it, I found that the basic first class letter wasn't going up, but that oversized cards and envelopes WAS going up as is First class parcels (remember, anything over 13 ounces has to go Priority mail, unless you bump it down to Parcel post and in some cases, priority mail is CHEAPER than parcel use your postage calculator on the USPS website to figure that out.

Sneaky, huh?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

To do, or not?

Desire is an odd thing. You WANT to do many things....but what can you do and do well? I've been struggling with this for the last several days. I have several quilts which need to be finished, as well as a couple of other household sewing tasks. I have a couple of segmented quilts which are in the works and are "due" in March. I want to try to enter the Deep Spaces exhibition which Larkin Van Horn has been promoted. Then there's the SAQA "This is a Quilt" which is due shortly. Plus, I do want to finish the sketchbook project which is due January 15.

In late November, I got word of a local gallery which is having a juried show. All items must be for sale and you have to pay a $25 fee; 30% of all sales will go to the gallery. You can enter as many items as you want and you may replenish them. Hmmm. I currently have three pieces I'd like to sell. I'd love to finish a couple of my other quilts and put in....the drawback is that the deadline is December 31 and the show opens soon thereafter.

I don't think that I could do the show justice. It is also a local show and I think that pushing it just wouldn't be good for me.... or my reputation. Desire? Oh yes....I'd love to put something in....but I think I would make myself crazy trying.

I think that it is more important to step back and make work that I like and that is the best I can do at that time. Rushing things isn't going to help either my work or my reputation. What do I want to do? Put three works in....but I think the best thing at present is to preserve my sanity and take care of some of the other things on my place....and maybe clean up my studio. What a novel idea!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oh Selvedge Tree!

Tuesday, this lovely card came in the mail. Joan Sterr, from the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network sent it to me. You've seen her work here on my blog before.

I know that Joan has done things with selvedges before, but this gave me a giggle. The Tan part is a pleather (plastic leather) sort of fabric which has a window cut out. She then trimmed out the edges in ric-rac and made the ornament parts from the registration marks on the selvedge.

On the interior, Joan wrote "Oh Selvedge Tree, Oh Selvedge tree!" which really made me giggle.

Fabric cards here are very fun. The Batty Binder's Quilt Group have been sending me little post cards to keep my spirits up. I think my husband likes them best of all. He asks me if I have received any and quickly takes a look.

Very fun!

Oh yes, and for all you non-sewers, a selvedge is the tightly woven edge of the fabric...the "self- edge". Quilters cut it off as it can make for distortion. Along the edge is usually printed the name of the manufacturer, the collection and these series of dots which serve as the printer's registration marks for the different colors of inks and dyes on the fabric. Each color requires a separate pass through the machines, so it is important to make sure that each color is safe within it's little dot.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


November's Fast Friday Fabric Challenge is almost done. I am embarrassed a little by these well as the fact that I didn't get these completely finished. The challenge was to use one shape. You could use any colors or technique, but you needed to pay attention to rhythm, balance and the other facets of design.

I did something completely out of the ordinary for me....I don't usually just do random sort of hunks...and these rectangles fit that. They are cut from quilter's lame, and polyester "silk" and layered, sometimes under, sometimes over a gold organdy florist's ribbon. The base fabric is 100% silk. I zigzagged them down to give extra texture. The whole piece measure 29" wide by 26 1/2" tall.
I then wondered what beads would look like...and I layed these over the top. Hmmm. I also decided it would be prudent to quilt a sample before I settled on the quilting pattern for the large one. So, I made this little 13" x 12" sample. I quilted it...and still was thinking about beads, so I decided to start stitching beads. Now mind you, I took a beading class with Mary Stori in Bloomington, Indiana a couple of years ago, but for the most part, I don't bead. How long could beading take?


I like the beads on this little piece, but I'm not sure I want to do that with the larger one. I've been working on it while I'm in the treatment room and then again today while I was in the oncologist's office waiting for him to come in.

I kept on thinking "Oh boy, I hope I don't drop these beads. Then, I dropped the little tray full of beads. Just then, he came in. You know you have a good guy for an oncologist when he helped me pick up all the beads. Both of us were scurrying around on the ground. He asked me where I got the beads because as it turns out, one of his hobbies is tying flies.

Anyway, I hope to put these back when they are done. I'm just really fatigued and thought I had better get them up before the next challenge comes by.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Memories of warmth

It's cold and snowy here and I'm tired. When I'm tired, I feel cold and think of things warmer. This summer, once again I had the occasion to go to Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. If you ever have the chance, please go. Shelburne is the start of the Mohawk Trail, and by it, my ancestors who moved to Shelburne from Connecticut, then trekked across the Mohawk Trail into upstate New York, before moving on and ending up in Ohio and Michigan. In the fall, it is gorgeous.

In the spring and summer it is equally gorgeous because some brilliant person had a fantastic idea. When the bridge, that you see here, was no longer useful for supporting vehicular traffic and another bridge had been made to replace it, they kept it as a pedestrian bridge. However, it isn't your average pedestrian is a floral bridge....essentially a garden over the river.

This path, isn't a path, but the center part of the bridge. The entire length of the bridge is filled with flower, shrubs, flowering vines and small trees.

The town is a sweet little town with a great deal of artists and small shops. Glassware, pottery, woodcarving, weaving and fine art abound. In addition, Ann Brauer's quilt studio is there and you can often find her quilting on her industrial machine at speeds which make my fingers burn.

So far, each time I've gone, I've managed to do so in the rain...but I guess I've proved that I'm not the wicked witch of the west as I have yet to turn into a puddle of brown sugar.

I don't know who does the upkeep on this pathway, but it is fantastic and well worth the visit. May these thoughts be running around in your head as you think of where you might like to go some fine summer day...

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Sketchbook Challenge

I am sorry that I haven't been posting for the last couple of days. I've found that with all the things I have to do to get ready for Christmas and the fatigue I've been having, I just couldn't bring myself to write. However, if you've stopped by, you probably noticed the big "SKETCHBOOK CHALLENGE" badge.

A couple of weeks ago, Lyric Kinard, Jamie Fingal, Laura Cater-Woods, Carol Sloan, Melanie Testa and a slew of others totaling 16 artists issued a sketchbook challenge. The challenge is to sketch daily in a sketchbook following a monthly theme. The "leading artists" will post their pages and the followers are encouraged to post on their own blogs as well as on a flikr group site. You can find out more about it here.

I thought about this for a while. I have a sketchbook which I sketch in periodically.....and I find that sitting in doctors offices help me to do it more now. I don't do it religiously and it is more like an artist journal than anything else. I started it with Jane D'Avila and Elin Waterston's Art Quilt Workbook "class" we did with the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network. I put in thoughts, ideas for themes, photographs (both mine and others) and all sorts of stuff....including notes I took at the SAQA Ohio meeting in Columbus last month, so it is an eclectic thing. I know that drawing is the bones of art as well as being part of the process of good design. Like most things, you can't expect to get better if you don't practice. Daily. Without fail. The same can be said for quilting.

Knowing this doesn't mean following through. Last year, I swore that I was going to be disciplined as I feel like I have artwork ADD. I flit from one project to another without finishing stuff. I also procrastinate...and that's fodder for another blog post as the reasons for procrastination are somewhat surprising. I joined the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge to try to force myself to practice the habit of art quilting on a REGULAR basis as well as to explore new methods and perhaps a theme.

Well...that one sort of flew out the window. Many of the problems this year were with my health....falling and breaking my arm while photographing mushrooms for one of the FFFC challenges sort of threw me for a loop. Finding out I have breast cancer mets to the bone again also put me back into the treatment/doctor's appointment/testing loop, as well as the extra energy necessary to push when pushing was needed. I'm still a mom of a daughter who is presently a senior in High school with all that entails (cross country, track, college visits, applications, etc.) who also has had some health issues this year (a tonsillectomy, wisdom teeth removed...blah blah blah). So...these are excuses. Lyric Kinard is able to do this in spades--she has more kids than I do.... I need to be able to do this AND keep a house and a garden....the garden is important to me, but I AM downsizing a bit and trying to make it work easier. But I still need to make a list of priorities and goals and mark down what I need to do to achieve those goals.

In addition to the prioritization, I need to look at the time eaters and make sure that they do not consume the time in non-productive ways or ways which don't help me meet my goals...and yes, having a reasonably well-adjusted daughter and clean house as well as gardens are also my goals. But, I need to make sure that I also work on progressing with the art quilt ends.

The first image in this post is of an egret. I took the photo in Florida the last time we were there. On the right is the sketch I made for the first entry in the Art Quilt Workbook's mini quilt. It has yet to be quilted, but at least it is committed to fabric. This second one is the abstraction (not very abstract I admit) of the image of the caged rooster I took at the Miami County Fair. Yes, I need to work on being more abstract. I'm afraid I'm very much of a realist, although I really appreciate abstraction.

In addition to actual sketches, I also do some doodle like things. I tend to make patterns very large and do sketches in which one image takes up the whole page. I think I would be better served to make smaller images and then be able to compare right on the same page what design works better. That's what I was doing here.

Sometimes, those sketches actually turn into finished pieces! Miracle of Miracles! This was the first FFFC piece I did. Since I was in Montana at the time, I finished it ON TIME (I didn't have many other responsibilities other than to help with the cooking, visit my family, and drive food and trucks around during harvest). One of the reasons I joined FFFC was so that I would NOT turn every piece into a large endeavor. I am afraid that I'm not very good at that. Ever the eternal optimist I always think I can do more than I can....I keep on thinking that I've hung up my wonder wonder woman cape...but I keep on putting it back. You can see the finished piece and the process here.

I am adding this challenge, plus I am going to try to work my way through Lyric Kinard's Art Plus Quilt by myself as well as try to be much more disciplined in other areas of my life as well. Things are going to be hard and I am going to have to struggle to keep my goals in front of me. But I am going to try to do it. I always said, Aim for the Mountain top, as you might just reach it. Aim for the middle and you'll never get beyond it. It's sort of like what Jamie Fingal said on her post introducing herself and her method. She used the following quotation: "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars. " (unknown). You can see her whole post the sketchbook challenge blog here.

So what's this last page? My daughter and I were flying somewhere...I think Montana and in the airport restaurant we ate in, there was a rope of chilies. I sketched it...then I started messing around with abstracting it. I was supposed to be doing something for MVAQN which used triangles....this sketch is as far as I got, but at least I'll be able to go back to it and fiddle around some more and perhaps commit it to fabric.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Only a Memory Now

This morning, I went out to mail some packages and heard the unmistakable call of Sandhill cranes. It always makes my head snap up....somewhat like the sound of a kitten "chirping" a soft little "prrrup" that I hesitate to call a honk, although I know that is what it is.

The sound is almost the call of some ancient reptile. Of course, I immediately start scanning the sky. Suddenly, I see them, coming over these trees...high....light undersides of the wings flashing with dark brownish black wing tips. Long necks stretching out. I freeze...the sight is wonderful. Do I run back inside the house to grab the camera I know to be sitting inside the front door? No. The only lens on the camera is the standard 50 mm and I need the telephoto to do it justice. I dare not leave this sight, even though it is cold. Two "v"s and some stragglers....then they regroup and there is one huge skein of them, majestically flying their way down south, probably to Florida. So now, the sky is empty and my heart and head are full only with the majestic memory.

I am moved by Sandhill cranes flying overhead. I think because in high school biology we read the Sand County Almanac, which chronicles the damage to the Sandhill crane and the impact of man on the environment. Written by Aldo Leopold in 1949, the book is one of the seminal works in environmental literature, and if you haven't read it, I encourage you to do so.

By 1978, Sandhill cranes were rare, but not as rare as the Whooping crane whose eggs the Sandhills were often coerced to raise by people trying to save the whooping cranes.. Once common in the prairies of Michigan, I had never seen one. Then, when I returned to Michigan for my 20th High School Reunion in 1998, I stayed at a friend's farm. I was out with her father and I heard the unusual call and looked up to see a flock rise from the field and take to the air. With wingspans of six to eight feet, this was quite a sight. It was a flock of Sandhills. In the 20 short years, they had managed to come back to that degree.

When we moved to Ohio, once again I was working in my yard in the late fall, early winter, and heard them again. My heart jumped at the sound and I scanned the horizon to find them. Every year now, I hear at least one flock. You don't notice them unless you're outside as their call isn't very loud.

Sandhill cranes have a 10 million year history recorded in fossils, said to be the longest of any bird species. This just proves, I guess, how adaptable they are and how they were able to come back, although some resident populations (ones which aren't migratory) are in more severe trouble. I giggle to think that there is a Cuban race.... I wonder if my husband knows this? He will tonight.

The tree at the top is the image I got to illustrate this as this is where I saw the flock....I ran to the back yard, but they were gone and all that was left was this shot. However, Alan D. Wilson, a wonderful photographer whose work I used to base one of my quilts on is really great about sharing his work. These two images of the Sandhill Crane are his. You can see how they are inspiring birds. Take a look at more of Alan's shots here.

For more about Sandhill Cranes, check out this.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gifts for Quilters and Gardeners

Although it is probably too late for most of you, I thought I would share some of my favorite gifts...things I have purchased for myself, but in some cases are given to friends....or should be given to friends.

I'll start with the quilting tools and finish with the gardening tools. Last year, around Christmas time, Nancy's notions ran a 25% off their catalog items. Ever since I purchased my Bernina 440, I had been snarling at the light. The light on the machine just wasn't bright enough. I thought that most of the prices on the Bendable Bright Light to be some places I've seen it as much as $49.95. Nancy's Notions has the best price usually with this sale I decided to buy one. Since I carry a second machine to my once a week sewing gathering, I purchase an extra set of brackets to mount it on my other machine. I thought this was brilliant of the Bendable people as the mounts are adhesive not magnetic (a problem for computerized machines which can be negated by the magnets as well as the problem with the fact that most heads are no longer made of iron casings), and this way you could have your light on several different machines, just by switching the light, rather than having to have a light dedicated to each machine.

The light these puppies put out is tremendous. Sometimes I just aim it on the table in front of my machine so I can see what I'm appliqueing or ripping out better. This is certainly one of the best sewing tools I have ever purchased. You can find it at Nancy's Notions right here.
This is a silly little thing that if you ever have to cut perfect circles, I think it is the best. It's Olfa's circle cutter. It has a little rotary cutting wheel on one end and a pin point on the other. You can adjust the arm to make bigger or smaller circles. I've used it on fabric with fusible web and also with fabric backed with freezer paper. You do have to have something backed to it or the thing won't work as well...the fabric is stretchy and the fusible web with paper and the freezer paper does the trick. Is it a must have? Only if you want to do circles or half circles. It cuts circles from 1 7/8" up to 8 1/2" big. It usually retails for $27.99 but frequently goes on sale at Joann Fabrics or one of the other chain stores for 50% off.

This is an odd little thing I purchased years ago at a class I took with Jo Coons. It is called a quilter's lap least that's what she called it then. It's a birch/maple wooden slant board which makes a little desk or table so that when you're quilting or appliqueing your work is held at exactly the right angle so that you don't hurt your neck. I looked at it and tried it in her class and found that she was right. You can work for hours with this and you won't get sore shoulders or a stiff neck.

At first I thought I would make it myself because it is so simple, but then I decided the angles were such and it was made so well with little spindles for your threads and a lip around the bottom so your thimble, scissors pins or other tools wouldn't roll off was just too nicely done. It's not exactly cheap at $39.95 plus shipping from New York, but let me tell you, I won't be without it. I take it with me to chemo too and while I get my treatments I use it to quilt, write notes and do other stuff.... I think you can only get it from Potpourri Pieces which is Jo's website and store. It is now called the "Needle Artist caddy" but it is a great piece! Look here.

This is another thing I wouldn't live without, although this version is slightly different than mine. This sixth-finger stilletto is almost like the one I bought from Martelli. Martelli doesn't carry it anymore, so I am guessing that he sold this item off because it could be marketed better or something. It isn't terribly expensive, only from $7 - 11, but it also goes on sale. It has a regular stilletto point, but the other end is flattened and knurled. It is wonderful for ironing down applique edges as you can iron right over the top of it. It's also great because it will slide right under your presser foot since it is can get it right up to the edge of the needle before pulling it out.

This one is is available at a variety of price points. Google it and see where it is the least expensive for your area. I think the best price currently is at Amazon.

I know I have other suggestions and I am likely to add them to another post later.

Now for some gardening tools. Ok...I admit it, I'm a tool junkie. But these are my constant companions and the ones pulled out of my tool bucket most frequently. I've also given tons away as gifts because they are just superb.

My favorite place to get all three of these tools is A. M. Leonard. A. M. Leonard is about 5 miles away from me on the Piqua/Troy border on Ohio State Route 25A. I suppose you can find them elsewhere, but these guys are great and they often have sales or free shipping incentives...and I'm all for promoting things from my area.

It is the soil knife and sheath. I bought one which was actually a Japanese soil knife and I like this one better. Why? Well, the Japanese soil knife (also carried by A. M. Leonard) is slightly longer (not a bad thing) but it has a wooden handle. Guess who lays it down and can't see it on the ground because it has a brown handle? This one with its bright orange handle is easier to see in the garden.

I use this thing constantly, from opening bags of mulch, birdseed, or whatever, to cutting twine, to whacking down Walker's Low Catmint, to digging out dandelions. I just can't live without it and most of the people to whom I have given it as a gift agree. It is really sharp and I recommend buying the sheath with it. I like this one because it has a spring clip on it. As I rarely wear a belt, this is great to clip onto the waistband of my bluejeans or even slip through the empty belt loop, or clip on the side of the bucket I carry my tools around in. The soil knife and sheath combo is $24.95 and you can find it here.

This thing is called a "Handy Weeder/Cultivator". I thought it came in two handle lengths...if it does, choose the longer handle length. This is the sharpest little piece and you really have to be careful, but it is good to scuffle across the top of the soil and get all those pesky little weed seedlings. Good for creepers too. I just love it. It reaches under shrubs and away you go. I think it is a steal at $9.99.

My soil is very heavy, and I often need something to pull out quack grass and other nasty weeds and grasses. This thing is perfectly balanced and the weight is great to whack things out. It isn't the lightest tool in my bucket, but I don't have problems with it, probably because I find the balance so good.

It's called a Mini-tiller and I use both ends...depending on the weed or the soil moisture level. At $16.99 I find it well worth every penny. Works good on improving those middle-age women's arm wings too, if you are so inclined. A darn sight better than hand weights. :) You can find it here.

I hope that this will help you in finding the perfect gift...for you or a friend! (Oh, and please note: None of these photos are mine but are taken from the sales pages to which I've directed you.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Breast Cancer Study looking at Shift Work

The Army of Women has just released a new study for which only 10 have signed up so far. They need to look at the effects of shift work on breast health. This one individuals who have never had breast cancer. Please consider this and do it if you can.

Wordless Wednesday: In a rut

Monday, December 6, 2010

Quilts for a cold, dark, dreary day

It's a dark, cold, blustery day and I'm generally feeling icky. So, I thought sharing some quilts with you which brighten the day would be fun.

As general rule, I don't like quilts from the 1920s and 1930s. Heck, I don't much care for quilts after the 1910s until we get into the modern period, but there are always some exceptions. Several years ago, I collected some quilts from eBay to show quilts from this later period. This one I just had to have, even though I knew it wasn't described properly.

It's a bullseye quilt and is supposedly from Texas. It was sold as a real 1930s quilt. While the fabrics are from the late 1930s, the quilt had only recently been sandwiched with muslin and machine quilted with a pantograph. My guess is that someone wanted to practice their long arming techniques.

In dating quilts, the date is taken from the time period in which the quilt was completed. In this case, no later than the 1990s. If I made a quilt yesterday using original fabrics from the 1910s....the date of the quilt would be yesterday. This particular quilt is from the late 1930s and early 1940s... Earlier pieces usually have smaller prints The later pieris is known for brighter fabrics (less pastel) and busier prints, usually using two or more colors. Often, the patterns were outlined which separates the print from a colored ground. This technique is called "grinning." Interestingly enough, grinning was a practical invention, allowing fabric print houses to produce runs of fabric with less chance of getting the registration wrong and overlapping colors.

Here's another top, one of the ubiquitous double wedding rings from the 1940s moving into 1950. Notice the really bright colors and multiple colored prints.

As you move into the 1950s, turqouise, grey, and olive green come in with odd little prints.

This last piece is a "spiderweb" which uses up all sorts of little pieces in what is known as "string piecing." You sew long skinny pieces together, which are randomly cut, really scrappy. Sometimes they are pieced onto a foundation, othertimes, like this one, the strips are then cut into other shapes and put together. This one, while having fabrics from the 1910s and 1920s is from the late 1950s into the 1960s based on the fabrics. Hopefully, I will get my original handi-quilter set up (a moving trolley on which a sewing machine sits making it into almost a long arm), and use these tops to practice my machine quilting.

Recently, someone asked me what I thought about finishing old tops. I really support it. Tops from the more modern period are plentiful and some of them aren't pieced well or have other problems which might make for more difficult quilting. Tops are much less stable than quilts and if you want to preserve the piece then quilting it will help keep it around.

I hope these have helped brighten your day. I think I'll go back to bed. Maybe even under this quilt.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A long time

My great-grandmother, Augusta Anderson Broberg, came to this country with her husband, John August Broberg, sometime after 1870 from Halmstad, Sweden and settled in Augusta, Michigan. Great-Grandma Broberg's life was not easy, and I'm afraid it is one which leaves some of her descendants with lots of questions. She lived in a simple house, what we call an "American Four-square" with her family. She seemed to be an astute women, and even though she had more than her share of bumps (her husband dying and leaving her with a rather large family to support), she managed to do well enough. Unfortunately, she died of a massive heart attack in the 1930s when she was 51.

This comforter, while tattered and torn, is probably one of her pieces. She is the only relative I have who I know quilted. Her house was inherited by my Great Aunt Amanda (Amanda Wilhelmina Broberg Janes) and much of their belongings remained there until Aunt Man moved to an assisted living place in Battle Creek in 1979 after falling and breaking her hip. Aunt Man had previously given me a bow-tie top in red, white and blue dated to about 1915 and her large quilting frame.

Faded, well used, and lumpy, it was tied and eventually "retired" to a trunk in the attic. I purchased the trunk and its contents at auction in 1979.

Properly, this quilt is a "swastika", but is more often referred to now as a pinwheel. Most people avoid this pattern like the plague as we too often associate it with the Nazi swastika. This ancient pattern is found in many cultures and usually represents the four cardinal directions as well as fertility and prosperity. One of the English terms for it is "flyfot." I have seen 18th century Connecticut chests with the same swirling pattern carved into the bonnets. It is found in Sanskirt writings as well as Native American designs. I find it a pity that the work of one madman and his nasty henchmen have made it so that this ancient design is not used.

I'm not sure, but I think that the tan patch is one which was pieced with "cadet" or "Prussian" blue which had the unfortunate tendency to fade away to brown when washed in alkaline substances. The other blue, the first one, is an indigo blue print and when viewed closely, you can see the white threads underneath. Indigo doesn't really saturate the threads, but tends to sit on top and can be abraided away. Think about your favorite jeans and how the knees and thighs look just before they wear so thin that they burst.

I really wish I could have known Augusta Broberg....I certainly would love to trade patterns and ask her some questions about her life.

My apologies for not having written much lately...Casa Quintana has been a least for me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sara Deever and word themes

At the SAQA Ohio meeting last week, Terri Hartzell suggested exploring themes in quilts utilizing among other things, words. Interestingly enough, Sara Deever had done just that and brought along some of the work she had done. Each day for a year, Sara stitched only on quilts employing scripture or her rendition of scripture.

Here you see Sara with one of those quilts. Coming from an embroidery background, stitching holds an important part in her design. I love the richness the color and texture she achieves in her quilts.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Saturday, Deb Bentley and I drove to Westerville, Ohio (Columbus area) to attend the first Studio Art Quilt Associates Ohio Regional meeting. It was a blast! Sue King, the regional representative put together a great program. Not only were there opportunities to share and network, but she lined up three presentations: Shelley Brenner Baird presented her methodology and growth with printing and fiber art. Dee Dadik and Molly Butler addressed appraisals, and Terry Ann Hartzell showed her process which found me scribbling notes as quickly as I could.

Here Lisa Sellars-West is sharing one of her pieces.

Terry Hartzell is showing her heart quilt which was the focus of her presentation. At the meeting, I mentioned that I had hesitated to join SAQA since my "studio" was my dining room table in Connecticut. Now, I wish I had done so long ago.

Already, Sue has arranged for one "parlor meeting" --an informal regional meeting among members in the Columbus area. In early January, Maria Elkins will host one in the Dayton/Cincinnati area. We listed things which we would like to see the regional group do and hopefully, we will be able to do some of the suggestions we made.

SAQA's journal is worth the price of admission alone. I've learned a lot already and am looking forward to learning much more.

So, if you want to join SAQA, take a look at their website. SAQA Ohio's blog is here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Autumns last Gasp is Gold

Winter is coming. But gold still abounds. Foxtail grasses wave plumey seedheads which will provide food for small birds such as the junco, and sparrows which stay here all years.

Squirrel tails wave in the gold hiding their own treasure against the winter snows. Where they forget, things grow.

Norway maples hold on their leaves long after their cousins drop theirs. While I prefer the oranges and reds of the sugar maples, I begrudingly admit that this gold is wonderful...even if it sometimes means that you are madly trying to gather them for the last leaf pick-up by the town (not me...I compost mine to change their gold to black gold in the spring).

Strange, alien seedpods, an invaisive member of the morning glory family.....whose name I can't remember, cling to the trellis at Fulton Farms....Waiting for the winter winds.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Incredible Video: Only the Young

I don't usually do this....but my niece included this link in her FB page and I'm blown away. The photography is fantastic and I can see lots of fodder for art quilts inspired by it.

The music is pretty good too...although this middleaged minion isn't too sure about "only the young".... ; ). Take a gander at Brandon Flower's Only the Young.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Wonderful Things for Quilters to Have: Machine Quilting Unlimited

Not too long ago, I subscribed to Machine Quilting Unlimited. I was a bit behind in this as just before the first issue was released, Shirley Stutz was promoting it in one of her classes. This is my second copy and I can't say enough good about it.

The articles are well written and there's material for all types of machine quilting; from domestic sewing machines, to using track systems for domestic machines such as the Handi-quilter, to Mid and long arm quilting machines.

If you need to give someone a gift idea, tell them to get you this. Until November 22, Machine Quilting Unlimited is offering a 2 for 1 deal; subscribe for one year and get a second year for free! Renewals are included. Look here for the details.

And for the record, no I am not employed by MQU, nor do I have any relatives who work for MQU, nor do I get any kickbacks or remuneration (isn't that a great word?) of any sort for plugging this. I just think its a good item.

And yes....I apologize for the quality of this photo, but I couldn't swipe it off the site. Err...borrow it, yah, that's it, borrow it...