Quilt Gallery

Monday, May 18, 2020

Another Finish

I have been finishing quilt tops at an unprecedented rate during these days of social distancing! Here's the latest. I originally prepared all the blocks to take with me on a trip to the northeast in early April. Of course that trip was cancelled, so I just stitched it together on my machine. And now it is in my stack of tops to be quilted when I once again have access to a long arm machine.

I've also been spending a lot of time outdoors, enjoying springtime's bounty of wildflowers in central Texas. Most of the year this cholla cactus is notable only for its spines, but when it blooms it puts on quite a show.

Once the bluebonnets have faded, the most prolific flowers are Indian blankets, also known as fire wheels.

They can turn an entire field into a sea of bright orange.

There are also many flowers which you have to look harder to find, such as this little cactus,

and this American basket flower.

I hope everyone is healthy and able to get outdoors to enjoy the springtime.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Going Nowhere

Day 49 of staying home. It has surely become a cliche to call these strange times, but strange they are. Having spent so much of the past years traveling the country and the world, it is especially strange for me to be spending so much time going nowhere except the grocery store.

At least I have gotten somewhere in my quilting. During this confinement I have been motivated to complete a few of my works in progress. First there is this corduroy quilt that I finished for a friend of my mother's. I have no information on the origin of the top, but I think it turned out really well. Tying rather than quilting was definitely the right choice to preserve the corduroy texture, and I think the teal binding adds just the right touch on the edges.

My biggest and most satisfying accomplishment has been finishing my "Sea Days" quilt top. I don't remember exactly when I started it, but it must have been more than two years ago.

I named the quilt "Sea Days" because it reminds me of glorious days spent on cruises around the world, blue water sparkling in the sunlight, like in this photo off the Antarctic peninsula.

Traveling the world by boat, or any way at all, seems like a lifetime ago. Finishing this quilt during an enforced stay at home makes me long for the days of unrestrained and joyous travel.

The quilt also allows me to enjoy those days vicariously. I am reminded of so many different shades of blue that ones sees from the deck of a boat, like this teal that I saw around ice floating along the shores of Svalbard,

 and this aqua from a bit of an iceberg, also in Svalbard.

Warm Caribbean waters were no less dramatic.

Underwater on a sunny day off Mexico's Guadalupe Island, a completely different hue made a stunning backdrop for viewing great white sharks up close.

Now that I've made a mini tour of the globe, I'm going to go back to my sewing machine here at home and see about finishing up my next project.

Wishing everyone good health and a rapid return to some semblance of normal life

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Croatia's Dalmation Coast

Croatia is a tiny country, smaller than West Virginia, but it packs a lot worth seeing into that small space. Dalmatia, the southernmost region of Croatia, strung out along the Adriatic coast, encompasses about a quarter of the country's area and includes 79 little islands. It is packed with lovely and historic towns, stunning scenery, kind people, and many delightful restaurants and cafes.

The best way to see the islands and visit the smaller towns is to book a tour on small boat. Last fall, along with my family, I went on a seven day excursion from Split to Dubrovnik and back, with lots of stops in between, aboard a 38 passenger boat, the M/S Desire. This post focuses on Split, the second largest city in Croatia. I'll follow up with another post or two on the other towns.

Split's main attraction is Diocletian's Palace which was built for the Roman Emperor, Diocletian, in the 4th century as a place for him to retire. Here is a view of the peristyle, or central courtyard, the heart of the palace.

Original construction of the palace included twelve sphinxes from Egypt. This one is the best preserved of the remaining three.

Wander through the palace and you can spot other original decorative elements, such as this mosaic floor,

and the round vestibule, or waiting room.

Today you can see the sky through what was once a domed roof.

It is fascinating to explore the narrow alleys,

the impressive basement (which now houses vendors of local wares),

and open courtyards.

Today the palace is a fascinating patchwork of private residences,

shops, hotels, and restaurants.

Speaking of patchwork, here are a few images of patchwork that I have been stitching away at recently.  I worked on a few pieces for Denyse Schmidt's Free-Wheeling Single Girl quilt-along during this trip, using fabrics from my visit to Phoenix. I will need nine of these to make up an entire quilt so I am clearly way behind on but it's fun to work on here and there.

And here is a top that I finished almost a year ago, using up some blue scraps. I've finally picked out a backing for it, so maybe I'll have a finished quilt soon.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Phoenix, Arizona

Back in the days when I worked for Motorola's semiconductor business, I made a number of trips to Phoenix. And in all that time never saw anything other than the inside of the airport, air-conditioned cars, and air-conditioned offices. This time I was lucky enough to have a few days to explore, along with unseasonably wet and cool weather to make it comfortable. We started with an alfresco lunch at the Phoenix Biltmore, after which we strolled in the gardens and through the public areas of the hotel.

Opened in 1929, it was designed by Albert Chase McArthur, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. The blocks and other elements of which the hotel is constructed all have a geometric design that struck me as something that would lend itself to quilt blocks.

Interestingly, the blocks are called "textile blocks" because of how they are held together with lengths of rebar in two directions, like the warp and weft of a woven fabric.

After a day spent attending meetings and lectures indoors, Steve was eager to get outdoors, so we set an early alarm and drove to Phoenix Mountain Preserve, arriving at the trailhead to Piestewa Peak before dawn. Lingering clouds from the previous night's rainstorm made for interesting views. 

The trail is short but steep, gaining more than 1,000 feet in just over a mile, but it is well marked and in most places the footing is good due to carefully built stone steps.

Still, it is rated as "extremely difficult." I suspect the Phoenix climate may contribute to that. The weather was comfortable for our hike, but Phoenix summers would make for a brutal outing.

Having started before sunrise, by the time we finished our hike, and found some coffee and breakfast, we still had most of the day ahead of us. Next stop was the Desert Botanical Garden, 140 acres dedicated to preserving and showcasing an enormous variety of desert plants.

I liked the playfulness of these Chihuly glass sculptures at the entrance.

It is truly a wonderland of texture,


and shape.

I highly recommend a visit, though definitely go early if the day promises to be warm. In addition to wandering paths through several themed areas (Sonoran Desert, wild flowers, etc.), you can have a drink or lunch at the cafe, browse the shop, and participate in special events.

Our final stop was completely serendipitous. We happened to see a sign for it, and being curious about fire fighting because our daughter has worked the past three summers as a wildland firefighter, decided to make a visit.

It is quite an amazing place, filled with thousands of fire-related items spanning several centuries. As you might expect, there is a lot of red and gold. Firefighters have clearly taken great pride in their equipment for a very long time!

In addition to these older pieces, there is a tribute to 9/11 first-responders and videos of current practices in wildland firefighting.

Naturally I also had to visit a local quilt shop, so I chose Modern Quilting. I picked up a few pieces of fabric, with the intention of participating in Denyse Schmidt's Free-Wheeling Single Girl sew-along.

I guess most participants are finished by now and I haven't completed even one square yet, though I do have a few pieces started. I've been doing this by hand, and without Denyse's templates so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.