Quilt Gallery

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Skiing In The New Year

We are taking advantage of the girls being in Vermont for pre-season nordic and alpine ski camps to do a bit of skiing ourselves.  We spent a few hours this afternoon at Middlebury College's Rikert Nordic Center and are hoping for some snow overnight to improve the conditions for downhill skiing tomorrow.  It's a great way to greet the new year.

This winter visit to Vermont reminds me of my college years spent in upstate New York where I always admired the colors of the landscape.  On overcast days it is painted in shades of white and steel grey and silver, except for the distant tree-covered hillsides which under thick low clouds look almost purple.

Post-skiing, I have found a nice seat by the inn's fire where I can enjoy a glass of wine and work on my little Antarctic-inspired quilt.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Warm Welcome Home

This post is dreadfully late, but at least it is appropriate to the season.  When we returned home from our sojourn to Antarctica last winter I was greeted with an unexpected, but most welcome, package from my aunt.

I delight in the sentiment itself and in its simple, elegant presentation.  In a minimum of words it conveys so much.  If all you had to go on was the piece itself you would know the maker's age and her name and, more importantly, you would know of the existence of a warm relationship between an aunt and her niece or nephew.  You would also be able to guess that the maker possesses vigor, given the energy it takes to stitch such a piece, and that she has a fine sense of humor, because she has included her age as though in a wink to the girls, some as young as five, in centuries past who stitched their ages into the designs of their samplers.

I have now hung this sampler in my little hallway gallery of cherished cross stitch samplers, a fitting place since it is now a neighbor of my own first sampler, which I completed as a girl in 1975 from a kit that Auntie Lu gave to me as a Christmas gift.

These two pieces together illustrate to me how lives are intertwined and how our actions can be sources of unexpected inspiration.  When Auntie Lu gave me that little kit so many Christmases ago she couldn't know that it would lead to many hours of creative pleasure and to my ongoing and wide-ranging interest in textiles and needlework.  Likewise, I doubt that she realized that this new sampler would go beyond bringing "peace to this house," but would be a constant reminder to me to act with thoughtfulness and kindness because it does make a difference, if not today, then surely another day.  

Thank you, dear Auntie Lu, for all of your gifts.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Thanksgiving in the Texas Hill Country

It's not a long trip from Austin to our little weekend house on the north shore of Lake Travis - less than an hour's drive - but it seems a world away:  big skies, long views, and oak woods interspersed with open fields which are filled with wildflowers in the spring and summer.

Springtime flowers

Lake Travis sunset

We spend most of our time there outdoors, walking, running, biking, swimming, bird-watching, and clearing the land of all the spiny and prickly plants that took hold in the years when the native grasses were depleted by over-grazing.  Our work boots get a lot of wear!

We also frequently cook and sleep outdoors, the latter either on the sleeping porch or in a screened cabin, and this Thanksgiving was no exception.  As usual, we put the turkey - plus a  brisket and some sausages for good measure - on the smoker.  That yielded a deliciously smoky flavored turkey and left the oven available for all the yummy side dishes.

In spite of the generally mild central Texas climate, it can get quite chilly sleeping outside, and a good pile of warm bedding is called for.  Right now we rely on a rather rag-tag collection of blankets and old sleeping bags so I am working, slowly, on making quilts for each of the beds.  Here is one I just finished hand-quilting for Cabin II.  The wool batting I used to make it extra cozy shrunk quite a bit in the wash so the overall texture is very crinkly, but I think will age nicely.

Steve's mother, Winifred, hand-stitched the flowered whole-cloth quilt at the bottom of the bed.  I am guessing it is from some time during the 1960s.

This little butterfly kept Steve and me company while we were clearing some brush the other day and is a perfect color match for the new quilt.  Maybe someone can help me to identify it.  A clouded sulphur, perhaps?