Sunday, June 26, 2016

Back home again from Maine

Don and I--and Lily!--returned home from Maine yesterday afternoon after an arduous drive along America's interstate highway system. Lily will be spending about 6 weeks with us before she flies home for the beginning of school, and we love having her back with us.

All I can say is construction season is in full swing!  We spent quite a bit of time sitting in traffic jams, including one in Ohio where the turnpike was closed in both directions due to a massive accident involving a truck filled with liquid hydrogen.  That was a real mess!  Unfortunately, one person was killed in the accident.  My sympathy for his family.

The visit to Maine was really, really good!  I love being out there with my middle child/oldest daughter and having her show me the sights.  Before we did any of the touristy things, I gave the king sized quilt to Kristina who gave it as a gift to her husband, Matt. He was absolutely flabbergasted!  I had finished hand stitching  the binding while we were in the hotels on our way out East and before we left home, I'd also managed to sew two pillowcases to give them as well.  Kristina took one look at the quilt and was all smiles, and Matt was literally speechless that his wife would give him such a gift.  I felt pretty good that they liked and appreciated my work.  

After that, it was time to boil up some lobster and begin the feasting!


On our last day in Maine, we took a drive to Boothbay Harbor, seen below from a hilltop. Quite a touristy little town but it had lots of boat traffic in the harbor. We took a cruise in the late afternoon where we got to see some seals lounging on the rocks, like giant elongated pillows!  Toward the end of the harbor cruise, a crew member demonstrated hauling up a lobster trap and we learned a lot about the life of this rather ugly--but tasty!--crustacean!  It was a perfect day to be on the water, and the perfect way to end our stay in Maine.

On our drive to Boothbay Harbor, we stopped at a LQS where I picked up some fat quarters of neutrals with nautical designs that I'll use in my next scrappy quilt.  Cute little mermaids on one of them.

Making our way west to Wisconsin, we decided to stop at the National Women's History Museum in Seneca Falls, NY. This is a national park devoted to commemorating the women who began the fight for women's rights on that location back in 1848.  Lily, who's 12 years old, was quite interested in learning how women had no rights back then and how far we've come today.  We had several interesting conversations about how it was when I was a girl in the 50's and 60's compared to how life is for her now.  Quite a difference--but still a ways to go.

In the museum, there are bronze statues of the women who assembled there to begin the movement. Above is Lily with the statue of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who chose "Sunflower" as her pen name, 

and here she is with the statue of Lucretia Mott, the other most important leader at that time. Behind them is the statue of William Frederick Douglas, also very important to the movement.

After we left the National Park, we drove through wine country to Corning, NY to take in the Corning Museum of Glass which was absolutely amazing!  We only had time to take in 2 of the galleries and here are some pics I took of things that impressed me in Contemporary Art Glass. 

This is a dress made of black glass which looks as though it's draped around a woman's figure, but not really. The folds of the dress and the translucency of the glass was breathtaking!

This is a collection of 3 tiers of drinking glasses stacked on glass shelves with clear glasses on the outside, brown glasses to make up the trunk, and green ones for the leaves. Some of the green glasses had leaf and bird designs on them making the tree canopies a little more interesting.

This one is a glass replica of a lynx, patterned after a drawing in the framed piece behind on the wall.  The lynx is made of glass spikes, giving it that prickly look.  I was reminded of the day our friends took us to see a lynx in Northern Minnesota that had been trapped and tranquilized for their biology study. Such a beautiful animal!

And so, I am now back home and glad of it. Lots of things that have to get done this week, preparing for the big July Fourth party we're having on Saturday.  So, that's it for now.

Monday, June 13, 2016

I survived the Wisconsin Shop Hop!

Wow! What a crazy and wonderful 2 days of shop hopping with 3 amazing--and very, very funny--fellow quilters!  The WI shop hop is going on right now and because I didn't go the N MN for the family reunion week, I was able to join these ladies and cover one of the sections of the statewide shop hop. We did 12 shops in 2 days!  

 I don't know if other states do this but at least MN and WI have been doing this for the past several years. I'll briefly explain.  (If you already are familiar with these shop hops, just skip ahead--I don't mind!)  Someone organizes the creation of a unique fabric line depicting something WI. This year it was kind of a gardening theme and you can see the line if you go to this link  Then LQSs decide if they want to join in the hop and they get organized into sections. The entire hop offers a drawing for huge prizes to those who complete all the sections--in other words, visits every participating shop in the state--and each section offers a drawing for slightly less huge prizes as well. The section we covered offered a Featherweight as well as several other great prizes. My friend Pat and I are arguing as to who will win the Featherweight! Root for me, please!  And furthermore, each shop has a drawing for a basket of goodies for everyone who visits.  So, 3 ways to win!  As well as finding amazing fabrics that we absolutely want need!  I haven't had time to photo the things that I found, but suffice it to say, I have enough to keep me busy for awhile! And I will add that the trunk of the car was almost bursting with all the goodies we picked up along the way!

As we were in Wisconsin, we really weren't surprised to come across a small herd of painted ladies by the side of the road, outside a paint store in Minocqua.  We had to take a few pics of these gals. and Guys too I guess!

Deb and Carolyn with a "Golden Gurnsey" with jewels and everything in her crown!

Is this Uncle Sam or what?

We have no idea what HL stands for!

My favorite--she had blue and yellow polka dot bloomers that you could see from behind, but we respected what little  modesty she had!

What a treat to come across something like this in the middle of the Northwoods!

When I got home Saturday night, I went back to work on quilting the king sized quilt. I thought I'd try to finish one of the sashing strips--I only had five more to go-- and before you know it, I'd managed to finish them all!  Sunday was spent quilting the borders, cutting and stitching on the binding, and cutting the fabrics for pillowcases that I hope to have finished in time to take with to Maine.

I don't have a space large enough to lay out the quilt so these are shots of parts of it.  Above is the back--dark blue with colorful freshwater fish and turtles since this is for people who fish.  I had really good luck with my thread tension and had hardly any peeking through on either the front or the back.

This is a corner of the front of the quilt.  Maybe you can see that I quilted the border in three sections--the inner section is trees, water and canoeists.  I quilted an elongated meander and I think the stitching looks a little like a fishing line as it's being cast into the water.  The green section has a little wave-like design that just kind of came out as I was sewing.  And the outer section--the fish--I did in a large "headband" design.  As I was stitching, I realized that it looks like swirling water.  So the entire border looks like active fish in the water under the canoeists, separated by green algae on top of the water--and that's what many of our WI lakes look like later in the summer!

At any rate, I'm quite pleased at how it all came out. I was getting quite dismayed whenever I took a look at the quilt, ( I always seem to begin disliking the quilt as I do the quilting on it and see it so up close and personal) but as soon as I cut off the excess batting and backing and squared it up, it began to look better and the little part of the hand-stitched binding looks better yet. I  began the hand stitching last night and I'd planned on stitching the binding as we drove to Maine over the next 3 days, but it really is too large to handle in the front seat of the car. I'm not sure yet if there's going to be room for me to sit in the back and stitch it there.  If not, I'll just work on it at night in the hotels and finish it up when we get to Tessa's house.

I'd sent pics to the customer after I'd pinned it up and she really, really liked it. I told her I didn't think I'd have it finished in time to bring it with, so she will be quite surprised when I give it to her! I love surprising people like this, don't you?

Enough of this. I have lots to do today, including trying to get those pillowcases sewn, so I'd better get going. I'll check in when I get back home in about 10 days.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

No time for pics!

I'm quilting like a dog!  Although that makes absolutely no sense at all!  Well, I mean that I'm doing the quilting on the king sized quilt and am making amazing progress.  There are 36 blocks and in 2 days, I managed to get 26 of them quilted up--only 10 to go!  I'm using a simple free hand design that, after the first 10 or so blocks, became very easy and fast. The plan is to finish the remaining blocks today and get a good start on the sashings. In them, I plan on a free hand leaf and vine with a floral design in the corner posts. With luck I'll get that finished today as well. Then only the ever-difficult-to-figure-out-what-to-do-with border.  Sigh!  I'd purchased a Craftsy class on quilting borders but have yet to take a look at it, and now's not the time.  Well, I'm sure something will come to me.

Tomorrow morning, I'm off on a 2 day shop hop!  Three friends and I are participating in one section of the WI shop hop and I'm sure we'll all win one of the great prizes they're offering this year. Oh yeah, we'll get some great fabrics as well. :)

Time to get going on the last 10 blocks.  Yee Haw!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

King sized flimsy!

Yes, indeed. The king-sized quilt top is finished! 114.5 inches square!  Pat on the back, please.

I don't have any room in my house that's big enough to lay out the entire top, so this is a pic of one of the thirty-six 14" blocks with the sashing and border.

I have worked like a dog on getting this quilt done before we leave for Maine in 9 days and yesterday, I finished the top, pieced the batting--I had barely enough on my roll of batting to make it!--and stitched together the backing.  All put in an Ikea bag, ready to go out to the rec center first thing Monday AM where I can use the tables and get it pinned into a quilt sandwich. I also found the perfect thread in my little store of threads, but I need to get to a store to buy thread for the back of the quilt which is a navy color.

This morning I was awake before the birds began their morning chorus, thinking of all that had to be done before our trip out East.  Mind boggling!  I still have gardening chores to take care of, house cleaning to do with overnight guests arriving this afternoon, and a giant quilt to get stitched up. My plan was to have it to the stage where I could hand stitch the binding as we drove along the ever boring interstates.  I have to make a 50 mile round trip to a store where I can buy the thread, and I also had made plans to go on a 2 day Wisconsin shop hop this Thursday and Friday.  The following Monday, we'll be getting the car packed up and cleaning up the house before we leave, so it was looking pretty dicey that I'd get all the quilting done.  Before I got out of bed, I'd even decided on the various stitching patterns I'd use in the different parts of the quilt. In my mind, I'm all ready to start quilting. If only I didn't have all these other things screaming at me to tend to!

Then the clincher popped into my mind.  I have to take my machine it for service before we leave.  I did this last year when we were traveling and it worked out fine. The machine was ready to be picked up when we returned from our trip. So I'd planned on doing the same this year. The shop where I take the machine is over in MN, about an hour's drive each way, so half a day just doing that.  I'll have to take it on Sunday or first thing Monday morning, before the car's packed.  Now I'm sure I'll not get the quilting done before we go.

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And on top of everything else, I'm on call for jury duty all month, before and after our trip!  Good grief!  I thought my retirement years were going to be calm and peaceful!

In a way, I feel very relieved to know that I don't have to push to get the quilt done before we go. Now I can do all the other things with a clear head and work on the quilt as I can. No worries.  I'll finish it when I return and ship it out to the customer as soon as I can.

Now, I'm off to tidy up the house and make a run to the grocery store before the guests arrive.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Weekend Recovery

I'm still trying to recover from the long holiday weekend we had here. Not that anything exciting happened--it was just busy.

Jo came home on Monday and we had a super nice visit with her.  She and I have quite different temperaments and sometimes we lock horns on issues. In fact--this really is not exaggerating--she pretty much stopped speaking to me (except for important things like "When are you going to get my  laundry done?" and "I'm going out and don't know when I'll be back.") in 6th grade and only began speaking to me again when she was in her early 20's. No, we did not get along while she was a teenager. Fortunately, she and her dad got along great. So now, when she comes home or calls on the phone, I just shake my head and wonder where that sassy teen came from and where she is now.  Not here with me any more, thank goodness!

This is Jo at her graduation last spring.  Don and I are very proud of her!
On Saturday and Sunday, Don and I were in the garden, getting things planted. I managed to get it all done except for some row crops like carrots and parsnips.  I'm so sore that I'm going to have Don do it when he returns from his golf trip.  Then the entire garden will be in and I can relax and just concentrate on pulling weeds.  Fun, fun, fun!

The rest of the time, I puttered in the sewing room.  I had volunteered to teach a mini class on making McKenna Ryan quilts so I had to get something prepped to demonstrate. I went through my MR patterns and found this one, "Watching Over You."  No, it's not about a stalker but about an Ojibwa tale of a bear whose 2 cubs couldn't swim all the way to the opposite shore of the lake and were turned into the two islands in the distance.  Mama bear keeps watch over her cubs.

I'd purchased the pattern several years ago when I found it in a sale bin somewhere, and put it in my pile of patterns and forgot about it. When I went through them again, I chose this one since it's a rather simple design--for a MR piece!--and I thought laying out the leaves on the tree would be a good demo of how to use the teflon sheet and tack down the leaves.  So, yesterday I spent tracing out the pieces and assembling the background piece.  Since this pattern calls for some of the tree to reach into the border, I had to get that assembled as well.  I have everything ready to go for Tuesday night's guild meeting except I need to cut out several of the leaves and get them ready to be applied.

Oh, I should say, MR is discontinuing many of her previous patterns--the one I'm working on included--since she's associated with one particular fabric company and no longer can use the fabrics she chose when she designed the old patterns.  If you like MR designs, now is a great opportunity to get some of her patterns at very reasonable prices.  I was able to find the two blocks I was missing to complete 2 other patterns I have--

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Gingerbread Lane
So now I have no more excuses to not get these two quilts finished.  The blocks I bought were nearly half price which I thought was good, and I looked at the embellishment kits for the Gingerbread Lane quilt (every block is adorned with crystals and beads and such) but even at sale price, it was too much for my cheap thrifty pocketbook.  I think this will look just fine without the added glitz.

But for now, I have to begin cutting up the additional fabric for the Bear Paw quilt and try to get the top complete in the next 2 to 3 days and then can begin the quilting.  Wish me luck!