Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sigh, Maine Quilts is over

Sigh, Maine Quilts is over for another year. Clap hands for Nancy Z. and all the people who put the show together. I know they work very hard all year to make the show a success. I volunteered Thursday afternoon and the main part of the show was completely done by then. I helped hang the Roy Pilgrim exhibit and the "Meet the Quilter" exhibit. The featured quilter this year was Lorraine Sweet, (and also her
husband who was not a PTQG member so could not be officially mentioned). So rewarding to be a part of the set-up. After a sandwich in my car for supper I called my husband to say hi. He said there was a tornado warning for the area until 7 p.m. Gulp! I could see dark clouds racing across the sky! Nothing happened except some rain for us, thank goodness.

The above quilt is by Wendy Caton Reed and was my favorite at the show. You can see she won some ribbons for it! Check out Margo's blog (see my blogroll) for more photos from the show. Margo did such a nice job on her blog that I won't try to duplicate it here.

When I got to the champagne preview on Thursday night I was looking for some of my quilting friends. I found Andrea at "Studio 55" where we bought a number of items last year, including Laurel Burch handbags. I saw this Laurel Burch horse panel made up into a hanging and just had to buy it. There is something intoxicating about all those quilts and all those vendors, isn't there? The vendor ha
d added a couple of borders in matching hand dyed fabric, which she graciously showed me and I graciously purchased. Later I bought some gold thread at another booth and machine embroidery needles at another. How convenient. I want to get going on this one right away for my living room.

These two fabrics were part of the collection featured in the vendor booth hop. Blue and yellow? Check. Birds? Check. Flowers? Check. No idea what I will do with these. A little stash enhancement. Needs to mellow.

On Sunday I took Roberta Horton's African American Quilts class. The quilt on the right is her first attempt at this style. The one on the left she considers a more successful attempt. Roberta started the class with a slide show and right away admitted that the term African American quilts is controversial, but said she would leave that to the academics. During her slide show she specifically searched out her notes to give us the names of the African American women in the photos. They have been anonymous too long not to have their names mentioned now, she said.

Imagine cutting fabric with scissors not a rotary cutter. Imagine cutting fabric by eye, not with a ruler. Imagine cutting pieces without a template because you can not afford cardboard. Imagine using even the selvedge edge because you need to make use of every available piece of fabric you have. Imagine working quickly because you do not have the time to work more slowly and carefully to make a warm covering for your loved ones. This is how we worked on Sunday and it was hard to put aside all my previous notions of quilting.

Am I going to make a quilt in this style? Probably not. Do I appreciate the work these women did? Yes, certainly more so now. I saw a Gees Bend quilt show in Halifax last summer and wish I could see it again. I may explore some more "liberated" quilting, such as done by Gwen Marsten and Ricky Tims, but then again, maybe not!

It is always interesting to be in a class and learn new things. There is always something to store away for future use. I'm so grateful to PTQG for the opportunity to take these classes.

Oh, and last of all.....I won the door prize for our class at the end of the day!

Five one yard pieces of coordinating fabrics from Mardens! And those of you who know Marden's know how generous their yards are! Any suggestions on how to use these would be appreciated. They are all baby blue with some pink and green. Aren't I lucky?

Monday, July 21, 2008

My style of beauty

My mother once told me that her mother, Ethel King from Orrington, Maine, used to say "that's not very becoming to your style of beauty." That always made me laugh. On the one hand, it is gently telling you that some dress or hat does not look good on you, on the other hand "your style of beauty" may be saying you are no beauty yourself. And believe me Ethel and her sisters were no beauties, at least not in their cloche hats and Mother Hubbard dresses in the photo I have of them!

As a quilter I am finding out what "my style of beauty" really is. One of the ways to find that voice is to try out different styles of quilting. I've done traditional quilts, miniature traditional quilts, traditional applique, free-form machine applique, paper-piecing, etc. I've dyed my own fabrics and made fabrics with rubber stamps and acrylic paints.

Kyra gently and rightly pointed out in the comments from my last post, that there is no "African-American" style of quilting, as the name of the quilting class I have signed up for suggests. I agree with her. I think this style of quilting might better be called a folk-style or primitive style, which can come from any culture. That said, I am feeling ambivalent about "copying" folk-art and just wanting to stretch myself by letting go of some of the so-called restrictions of my usual precise style of quilting. You see this contrast between Alex Anderson, a real traditionalist, and Ricky Tims and his "caveman" style of quilting. I like both, but while I have lots of experience with the traditional, I don't have much with the other.

Something to think about on a Monday morning. Any thoughts?

I made peach jam this morning while pondering all the above. I was telling my husband about it while preparing the jam and reading the recipe. Ooops. I added five cups of sugar instead of three. Recipe
makes five cups of jam and uses three cups of sugar. Does this dunce cap fit my style of beauty?

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Yesterday I worked on my sampler quilt. Throughout the fall and winter the Tacoma Lakes quilters worked on a sampler. Our homework for the summer is to finish the quilt for show and tell in September. I found the perfect fabric at Cottonweeds last Sunday.

I haven't pressed it yet and also need to trim the border on the right. I ripped the strips which worked quite well. I sewed shorter strips to the blocks, then added the long vertical strips. I had some trouble getting the blocks to line up horizontally. I had forgotten how annoying that can be!

For the second vertical strip and the outer border strip I got smart. I marked the spacing on the strips with chalk so I knew exactly where the blocks should be; that way I would know right away which block might be giving me trouble. Everything lined up very nicely after I did that.

Summertime in the garden! Here is the vegetable garden with a little bit of me in shadow. Onions, sugarsnap peas, swiss chard, brussels sprouts, three kinds of tomatoes, zucchini and cukes. Yummy! The "zucchini" seems to be summer squash, but that is fine with me.

I signed up for a quilt class on Sunday. I am going to take Roberta Horton's African-American quilt class at Maine Quilts. This is an all day class on Sunday July 27. Here is part of her description:
"African-American quilts offer a wonderful opportunity for the average quilter to break out of the traditional Euro-American quiltmaking mold and do some growing." Yes, indeed. I am looking forward to this class and meeting Roberta. Some of the classes for Maine Quilts are full, but others are not. Check out the website and sign up!

You may have noticed that I have reading list in the sidebar. I am a librarian, too. I have really been enjoying How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. It is about his growing up in Wales in a coal mining community and was written in 1941. I'm going to watch the movie soon, too. Here is a quote from the book...

A fine night it was, with the moon pulling silver skirts behind her to brush the top of the mountains, and the wind humble to have our voices and saying only a little bit himself to show he had one still, and the Valley waiting quietly for us to fill it with song.
Fill it we did, for hours, sitting in the street, with all the windows open and people leaning out to sing, and Ivor conducting from the top of a chair in the middle of the Hill. " Lovely.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ocean Waves

Ocean Waves had its annual quilt show at a little church on Orr's Island this past weekend. As always, it was a treat. I went with my two quilting friends, Andrea and Donna.

This is the view as you enter the church. See, it is a small, intimate space for their show. The church is not really used anymore for regular services, only occasional weddings, I'm told.

This gorgeous blue star quilt was done by Nancy Hill. We oohed and aaahed over this one. The colors are clear and vivid. I really like how the sashing is just about the same color as the background, so the sashing doesn't overtake the blocks. The stars are made by strip piecing, I believe. Really special.

Nancy also had three of these mixed media "paintings." She uses fabrics, paints, embroidery, and machine quilting. I think it adds so much to have them framed so nicely. This picture of the red building, the sea, and land in the distance was especially nice. Click on the picture to really see the details. Nancy was there and denied that she is an artist, but I think she is. She said she has taken numerous photos at this location so I am sure she really studies her subject.

This stunning red quilt was a mystery quilt done at Mariner's Compass Quilt shop in Bath. I often don't like mystery quilts. I think it really helps to know what you are doing! But, this quilt really looks terrific, don't you agree?

After the quilt show we went out to eat then shopped at Cottonweeds in Freeport. I picked up the second packet for my Holiday Chorus BOM. Twelve blocks to make this time. I managed to pick up a few more fat quarters and sashing fabric for a sampler quilt we made at my quilt chapter last year.

I have a few more quilt show photos to share, but will wait for another day. Happy Quilting!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hot summer mornings

It's been really hot and humid on Quilt Island. Yesterday was about 85F (29C), so early this morning I turned the air conditioner on in my attic sewing room and was able to work comfortably for a couple of hours.

You can see that I marked the end of the rows with masking tape and numbered the rows. There are eight squares in a row and there are ten rows. I've done four rows so far.

I picked beet greens from my garden this morning. This vegetable garden is the first real garden I have had in several years. Last year I had a small patch where I grew a tipi of green beans and a few tomato plants. Last fall a neighbor plowed a garden for me on the front lawn. Snap peas, onions, lettuce, beets, swiss chard, potatoes, three kinds of tomatoes, zucchini, green beans and cucumbers are coming along nicely. I also planted brussels sprouts because I really like them, although no one else in the family does. Well, I bought a six pack in the spring and the plants are very robust and little sprouts are starting to show. What was I thinking? Six big plants!

Here's how I like my beet greens:
Boil and drain the beet greens. Add a dash of sesame oil and another dash of tamari and a splash of rice vinegar, not too much...heavenly.

Now I'm off to pick strawberries with my friend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


My husband and I took a long weekend vacation up to Baxter State Park after July 4th. We went through Patten to the north entrance. We camped at Lower South Branch Pond for two nights. The Upper pond is on the left and the Lower is on the right. The beach and camping area is at the far end of the pond, not in the photo.

When our children were younger we would go to Baxter every summer for a week. One week we stayed at the remote lean-to site at the head of Upper South Branch Pond. Happy memories.

DH and I rented a canoe and paddled across one pond to the next. At the narrows you have to get out and drag the canoe. This year there is a loon nest in the upper pond. The ranger said this is the first time loons have nested on the ponds, so it is a very special event.

Near the loon nest is a cliff where people(that would not be me, dear reader) like to jump off. My gentle daughter loved to go cliff jumping from the time she was about 7. The water is 75 feet deep or more and the kids always wore life vests. They would jump in and pop up like corks. One year three college boys climbed the cliff while we were there. They seemed wary of jumping, but they saw my intrepid daughter and son jump and survive, so they eventually jumped in, too.

This is the view of Katahdin from Daicey Pond. The building on the right is the library. It is full of old books, there are board games and puzzles to fit together. Sometimes the rangers give talks in the evening. DH and I rented a canoe here and paddled around the pond.

Daicey Pond is the first place we brought the kids camping when DD was 3 and DS was just 2. DS shared a bed with DH and fell out in the night. I woke up when I heard his head hit the floor. Ouch! After that DH slept on the outside of the bed, but DS hogged the bed even though he was just a tiny thing.

I thought about quilts all the time we were camping. How about a maple leaf tessalating quilt of greens and blues? Or a quilt made up of horizontal strips to show the colors of the mountains, the lake and the reflections? Chipmunks and deer? Dainty blue dragonflies? Of course, there was the ubiquitous black fly, but I'd rather forget about that! I am covered in red dots so I won't forget too soon!

If you would like to join the Maine Quilt Blogs list, click the green button on the side.

Next weekend is the Ocean Waves quilt show on Orr's Island. Anyone going?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Learning new things

You may have noticed "Maine Quilt Blogs" at the bottom of my lists on the left. I am trying to create a web ring. I have activated the account but it is "in queue", so nothing exciting happens when you click on it. I have seen so many rings on other sites, I thought it would be fun to have one for Maine quilters. My daughter is helping me to get this going and is going to make a banner soon. I'll let you know when you can join.

The other thing I am learning is that sometimes you can make a plan, but it doesn't always turn out the way you thought it would.(Well, that's not exactly earth-shattering news, is it?) I cut out all the 6-inch squares for my Asian quilt. I had fun laying them out on the floor. Then I put the blue print 2-inch squares down on top of the prints. I didn't really like it, which was a surprise. I quickly cut some squares out of black fabric and set those down. The black squares looked really good!

I had thought that I would have so many black backgroun
d fabrics that the black squares would disappear. Not so. I've kept one large piece of fabric with a big pattern and a black background for the border. The blue print just seemed to disappear.

I had my daughter look at my layout. She prefers the black, too. What she said made a lot of sense: there are so many prints that the black fabric gives the eye a place to rest. I think she is right.

Now, on to picnic preparations! I already have the ants on the kitchen counter. Sigh. Borax and sugar works really well at getting rid of them. Onward!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Gifts from friends

On Tuesday I emailed a friend of mine for some quilting suggestions. I told her I want to make a large lap quilt out of some Asian fabrics from my stash. She had given me quite a few awhile back. Well, the next day she sent another stack my way via a mutual friend. Wasn't that nice?

I told Sue I was considering using the snowball block for these fabrics. I thought the large "snowball" could be any of the large Asian prints, and the nine patch could be made up of the many other fabrics. Sue took a class from Kaffe Fassett last year and made a gorgeous quilt using the snowball block. Sue uses lots of deep rich colors in her quilts and I always admire them. She thought the snowball pattern would be a good idea, too.

This morning, while my sewing room was still cool, I made up the two block set for the snowball pattern. I used a nine inch block, so the squares in the nine patch are three inches when finished. In order to show off some of the patterns in the Asian fabrics, I think the patches should not really be any smaller.
Last night I looked in some of my magazines for some Asian inspiration and found a few quilts which didn't really fit my needs. I did find "Sentimental Journey" from The Quilt Magazine, Sept. 2003. This quilt is really just the snowball pattern without the nine patch.I like it very much. There are eighty 6-inch finished blocks plus borders, so it will make a good sized lap quilt. Don't you think the "snowballs" look like Chinese lanterns? That's what I'm going with, anyway. I seem to remember a Chinese lantern pattern from somewhere, but the block is a rectangle. The 6-inch block allows the larger patterned fabrics to show how luscious they are, but will still be small enough for the smaller all-over designs, too. Also, some of my fabrics are smaller pieces and I will probably be able to get 6-inch blocks cut from them, but not 9-inch pieces.

I am showing you these Sentimental Journey blocks on my portable design board. I just made it a couple of months ago and don't know how I got along without it before. I have a design wall behind my sewing area, but this portable thing is a big help, too. It is just a piece of foam core with quilt batt stuck to it with spray adhesive. I think mine is about 14 inches square. You can arrange your blocks on it, take it to the ironing board, then take it back to your sewing machine. Also good for taking to class.

I am using a small blue and gold print for the corner squares. I considered using black, which is an accent for many Asian fabric quilts, but prefer the print. Some of my fabrics have black in them and I thought the black corners might just disappear on them. On the other hand, I thought the black overall might make more of a statement than I really want. Of course, I have quite a few blue fabrics, too, but not quite the same blue. Also, I am a blue person, as I may have said before.