Quilt Gallery

Friday, April 21, 2017

Slow Sewing

2017 has gotten off to a slow start in the sewing department, but I count that as a good thing. I've had some nice distractions, such as houseguests,

and beautiful weather for being outdoors. We've had some great sunsets

and meadows full of wildflowers to enjoy.

I did finally finish this little quilt. I pieced, quilted and bound it entirely by hand.

I quilted the 16-patch squares across the diagonals.

For the solid blocks I used a vine and leaf design

inspired by decorative painting on walls of the Forbidden City in Beijing, which I visited last summer.

It is destined to keep my legs warm on cool nights when we watch movies at home. Aside from being a convenient travel project, it gave me a chance to use up a few of my scraps and some practice hand quilting before I take on a more important project.

Friday, March 10, 2017

In the Brontës' Footsteps

If you are a fan of any of the Brontës, I highly recommend a visit to Haworth, England, where the sisters and their brother, Branwell, were born, wrote, and lived most of their short lives.

You can walk from one end of town to the next in ten or fifteen minutes, assuming you don't stop in at any of the many small shops and galleries which cater to present day visitors.

We had bitterly cold weather during our visit, and even with a heater going full blast, our hotel room was chilly. Imagine how miserable it would have been to live in there with only coal fires for heat!

We ventured out on one of the many paths to explore the surrounding countryside.

Rolling hills are criss-crossed with stone walls and dotted with sheep

At the edge of sheep meadows we passed through this gate to the moor, and up to Top Withins, the farm believed to have inspired Emily's description of Wuthering Heights. The lone tree on the horizon marks its location.

Though it isn't terribly far from town, it feels very isolated indeed.

And it is certainly every bit as windswept as Emily's vivid descriptions suggest. In this photo you can see how the grass and the tree branches are being bent by strong winds.

Of course, no visit to Haworth is complete without a stop at the the Brontë Parsonage.

The sisters did much of their work at this table.

A number of their belongings are on display, including this sampler completed by Charlotte just before her twelfth birthday.

Seeing this inspired me to dig out my own little sampler.

My original design has gone missing so I had to make a replacement. It is a small and simple piece, worked on cotton thread over linen. I'm hoping to be able to finish it within a week or two.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Winter in Massachusetts

We had the best possible luck in weather last week for a trip to Massachusetts. Snow fell conveniently on days we were not traveling and skies were mostly clear on the days we spent outdoors. Visiting our daughter's school for parents' weekend, we enjoyed picture postcard scenes as we walked between classes.

The Nordic ski track at Mount Greylock High School was in nice shape for racing. First there was a 4x4K mixed skate relay.

 Followed by individual sprint races. Very exciting to watch!

After the races we stopped in Shelburne Falls, which is pretty no matter the weather. The Bridge of Flowers is pretty even without its flowers.

We popped in to Mocha Maya on colorful Bridge Street for coffee and hot chocolate.

With all this cold and snowy weather, Isabel has been appreciating her cosy bedding. The exploding star quilt (more about that here)  has a double batting, and the wooly throw is very heavy and warm.

I made the throw for her for Christmas, using yarn and the Stowe -Horsehoe Cable Blanket pattern (size medium) from the Third Piece. It was a pleasure to knit with such soft yarn and gratifying to have it work up so quickly, thanks, of course, to the extra large gauge.

Until next time I'll leave you with one more wintery scene. I have admired this barn for years and just couldn't resist taking a photo of it dressed in its winter finery.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

My Local Yarn Shop: Hill Country Weavers

Austin has a reputation as a cool, trendsetting town. Think South by Southwest, Austin City Limits, barbecue, paddle boarding, Whole Foods, among many others. It certainly lives up to that reputation with respect to fiber. After all, the first two QuiltCons, quilt shows hosted by the Modern Quilt Guild, were held here, and Austin was an early outpost of yarn bombing. It is also home to Hill Country Weavers, a weaving and yarn shop that began long before knitting became a thing. Ever since receiving a HCW gift certificate as a birthday present over a decade ago, it has been my go-to shop for yarn and knitting supplies. I am happy to report that Hill Country Weavers is not only thriving, but has just moved into a new and brighter space and is better than ever.

They have a big room for classes, and lots of smaller spaces for customers to get comfortable. This table is great for sharing with friends or to spread out a new project.

On cold days, you can curl up by the fire with your knitting.

Hill Country Weavers specializes in artisan yarns so you'll find a wide selection of made in the USA yarns, specialty fiber yarns, and hand-painted and hand-dyed yarns, along with the many more familiar brands such as Rowan, Cascade, Manos del Uruguay, and Noro, to name only a few. It is truly a feast for the eyes and the fingers.

Making a choice from all the options is a challenge!

Here is my daughter Eva, my best yarn buddy, with her choices. Note her beautiful sweater, which she finished in two weeks while at home on her Christmas break from college.

Once you've made your purchase, the nice folks will wind the skeins into balls for you.

And here are my choices. I am going to swatch these in fair isle patterns to see which I like best before purchasing enough to make a sweater.

Happy, but tired and thirsty after examining so many yarns, we walked next door for a little refreshment. We went for coffee rather than beer.

And enjoyed it while sitting outside under the big oak trees.

Then it was off to the barn to see Eva's horse, who was recovering from surgery. January in Texas is perfect sweater weather.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Westering Women: Reaching the End of the Road

Last January I committed to participating in Barbara Brackman's Westering Women block of the month project. I am pleased that throughout the year I managed to stay up to date and completed each of the twelve blocks not too long after Barbara posted the patterns.

I stuck with traditional prints for these blocks, hoping to use up some of the accumulation in my stash. Although it looks like I've not made even a small dent in my stash, I am happy with the resulting blocks and look forward to putting it all together. If I use generously sized sashing and wide borders it will be big enough for a twin bed.

The route many pioneers followed to the west traversed Wyoming, so here are a few photos from my holiday trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We saw quite a lot of wildlife, just as our predecessors must have done over a hundred years ago.

These elk were on the National Elk Refuge just north of town, so it seems a bit like cheating to have taken photos of them.

This cow moose and her calves (there was a second just out of the frame of this photo) were noshing on branches of this tree. I am always amazed by the kinds of things moose eat and find nourishment from.

I also think they have really cute faces!

Now that I am settled back into a bit of routine after the holidays I have lots of other projects, quilting, knitting and embroidery, in the works and hope to post about them a little more frequently than I did in 2016, so please check back soon.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Late Fall in London

Short days and high chances for rainy weather might suggest that late fall is a bad time of year to visit London. Because most people think that is the case, it turns out to be a great time to visit. Popular tourist destinations are relatively quiet and lines are short or nonexistent.

This includes Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral.

After exploring the main floor  and the crypt we headed for the dome. Emerging from the dizzying spiral staircase, we were rewarded with a dazzling view of the city,

View of the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul's Cathedral dome

and a rainbow.

On another day we stopped in at the Victoria and Albert Museum, often referred to as the V & A,

to take in the exhibit "Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery." If you are in London and have an hour or so to spare, I highly recommend it. The "Opus Anglicanum" or "English Work" pieces on display date from the 12th to 15th centuries and represent largely religious scenes and symbols. Every one of them is exquisite in design and execution, displaying remarkably fine detail and extraordinary craftsmanship. I found the workmanship all the more astonishing considering the time period in which they were made. I have yet to see current work, machine or hand made, that rivals the fineness of these pieces. They are truly treasures. Unfortunately, you will have to take my word for it, since photography was not permitted in the exhibit.

Inspired by the beautiful work, I picked up a little embroidery kit at the gift shop. Like many of the pieces in the exhibit, it relies heavily on gold thread.

We also strolled through the top floor exhibit of ceramics, which was set off nicely by bright afternoon sunshine streaming in through big windows.

I found the knit pattern on this jam pot and teapot amusing.

Swedish ceramics, designed by Hertha Bengston, 1949, made by Rorstrand Earthenware

My own knitting of late has included both knit and purl stitches, as in this pair of knee-high ribbed socks I made for my husband for Christmas.

Ribbed socks, made with Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn (75% Merino superwash/25% nylon)

I worked them using the two-at-a-time toe-up method so that when I finished the last round all I had to do was bind off and work in one piece of yarn on each sock. The best feature of this method is knowing that both socks will be exactly the same size.

Wishing you all the best in 2017! And that your socks finish at the same size and survive trips through the washer in complete pairs!