Quilt Gallery

Friday, May 11, 2018

Off the Tourist Track in Oman

Oman and its capital Muscat have a lot to offer visitors: historic forts, colorful souqs (traditional markets), a glittering new opera house, and a spectacular mosque. But, if you have the time, I suggest venturing beyond the conventional highlights to see others parts of the country. You may just find the most memorable experiences of your trip.

Accompanying Steve on another geology field trip I had the chance to see some of the mountains surrounding Muscat. Once the paved road ran out, we drove across bare ground and dry washes.

Then set out on foot to reach the outcrops.

We found spectacular formations,

 and local wildlife.

 We spent two surprisingly cold nights camping under the stars.

Instead of taking the highway back to Muscat, we chose the scenic route across the Al Hajar Mountains near Jebel Shams, the highest peak in Oman. Notice the line across the hillside in the upper part of this photo. That is the road. Yes, it really is that steep. And it is unpaved, deeply rutted in places, and has no guardrail. Plus it is mostly a single track road so that if you encounter another vehicle coming in the opposite direction, one of you might have to back up to allow the other to pass.

When you can tear your eyes from the road, you see that the mountains are spectacularly beautiful.

For a sense of the scale, note the vehicle on the road on the left hand side of this photo.

And the line of buildings in front of these cliffs.

The mountains really are better suited to goats than people.

Outside of Muscat you also have a good chance of seeing camels.

I think they have very odd, but interesting, faces.

Note that this one in the back of the pick up truck is lying down on a cushion. They are clearly highly valued.

One could surmise the camel's value from the frequency with which they are represented, as in the lid of this small silver box.

Don't you just love the guitar player sitting on this toy camel?

The camels on this pashmina make me think they would make a great motif for appliqué in quilting. Might just be a future project!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Westering Women: Reaching the End of the Trail

I have finally completed my Westering Women quilt!

This was a 2016 block of the month project put together by Barbara Brackman, celebrating women who traveled west on the overland trails in the 19th century. You can find Barbara's introduction to it here. I stuck with fabrics that were either 19th century reproductions or in the 19th century style, all of which I pulled from my stash.

I pieced all of the blocks by hand, but assembled the sashing and borders by machine,

and custom quilted it on my longarm machine.

I have given this quilt to a good friend, who, as a female research geologist, I consider a pioneer of her generation. Years ago she traveled westward a very great distance from her native England to live in central Texas, so it seemed an appropriate gift.

Several months ago she and I agreed to make an attempt on the Grand Teton in 2018, so I am including a couple photos of that beautiful peak. This one, taken along Mormon Row early in the morning, shows the Grand immediately to the right of the barn.

The Grand is the peak on the far left hand side of this image, taken from the south fork of Cascade Canyon (on the west side of the big peaks). 

I just love those high, lush meadows! For scale, note the two hikers in the top right.

While I'm at it with photos from Grand Teton National Park, here are a few wildlife shots from last summer that I never managed to include in a post. This moose may look a little crazed, but really he was just tearing at branches for his meal, and seemed completely oblivious to our presence.

This mule deer, on the other hand, was totally aware of us and seemed to be posing for the camera.

Finally, here is my favorite Teton critter, the pica. Not only are they incredibly adorable, they are great fun to watch.  If you take the time to sit quietly on open, rocky slopes, you will likely see picas scampering among the boulders gathering greenery for their nests, and hear their calls, which sound to me like a squeaky toy you might give your pet.

Any day, sunny or grey, is brightened by a pica sighting. Wishing you many days of pica cuteness!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Oman: The Mutrah Souq

If you are in Oman and looking for some local color, visit Mutrah, at the eastern end of Muscat. Tucked between mountains and the bay, you will find old-fashioned homes, shops, and mosques topped with blue domes and minarets.

Stroll along the corniche and stop into a cafe for traditional coffee served with dates, or fresh juice - mango as in this photo - or my favorite, lemon mint.

Be sure to leave plenty of time for wandering around the Mutrah Souq, Oman's largest.

If you visit on a day when no cruise ships are in port you'll see more locals than tourists.

Narrow aisles radiate from large central courtyards.

Shops are crammed with all kinds of wares, 

from rose oil and frankincense (an aromatic tree resin),

to home and commercial cookware,

and elaborate gold jewelry.

You'll find all kinds of enamelware

and lovely silver jewelry.

Naturally, I found the textiles the most intriguing, and came home with quite a pile of cashmere scarves. Most aren't actually made locally, but they are a popular item among Omanis, many of whom  wrap them carefully into a kind of headwear.

I couldn't resist the exquisite embroidery on this one,

and the vibrant colors on this one.

There are also brightly colored Bedoiun embroideries, a local product.

 I picked up these small bags to contain my sewing paraphenalia.

Here is what I usually carry around in my little sewing bags. I have pre-cut squares of scraps, needle, thread, thimble, ruler and pencil for marking sewing lines, and scissors for patchwork on the go. In the security process prior to boarding our outbound flight from Muscat, Oman Airlines confiscated my orange-handled Fiskars embroidery scissors, which I had carried on flights for years. I picked up these tiny ones at Liberty in London as a replacement. I also have a few knitting tools, an extra SD card for my camera, and tweezers, most often used for pulling cactus spines out of my husband's fingers.

It's amazing how much I can get done in spare moments when I have these few essentials with me.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Two Days in Zurich

Traveling to Muscat, Oman, from Austin, Texas, is a long haul! To make the trip a little less tiring and a lot more interesting, we made a stop in Zurich along the way, sandwiching a night of sleeping in a proper bed in between two overnight flights. To counteract all the hours of airplane-induced inactivity, we spent most of our two days in Zurich walking. Fortunately, Zurich is a wonderful city for exploring on foot! We stayed mainly in the old, central part of the city, wandering along narrow, cobbled streets.

We stopped atop Lindenhof Hill to soak in sunshine and city views.

Atop Lindenhoff Hill

In the old town it seems that every door and window is lovely,

solid and yet inviting.

It's worth walking slowly so you can spot interesting details,

old-fashioned signs,

and inviting storefronts.

On our second day, after a goods night's sleep, we took the Polybahn, one of Zurich's two funiculars, 

The Polybahn

up to ETH Zurich, the Swiss institute of technology, for a panoramic view of the city.

Zurich from ETH

We continued onward by bus to the Zurichberg, where we enjoyed fresh air and well-marked hiking trails through the woods.

Hiking the Zurichberg

In the afternoon we stopped in at the Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum), adjacent to the main train station. It is interesting as much for the old castle in which it is housed as for the exhibits which trace the history of Switzerland.

View from Landesmuseum window

We also spent a fair amount of time walking along the Limmat River, which runs through Zurich from the outfall of Lake Zurich.

Reflections along the Limmat River

Reflections of old buildings change with the light,

and are especially dramatic at night.

Zurich by night

I don't have a lot of needlework to show, except for a stack of nine-patch scrap blocks that I stitched up during the long flights in and out of Zurich.

I'm hoping to be home for most of the next couple of months so maybe I'll have enough time to stitch them up into a quilt top.

I'm also hoping to have enough time to post a little more frequently, so come back soon for reports on Muscat, Oman, and London.