Quilt Gallery

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Airplane Time

Easter weekend found me flying to and from New England for a visit with the girls and consequently with many hours in airports and on airplanes.  While I enjoy reading during those hours, I find doing needlework much more satisfying.  Without distractions - the Internet, telephone calls, a looming pile of laundry - I can make significant progress on any project.

I started the trip with two projects.  I nearly finished my friend's scarf.

 Started a border for my compass quilt.

I picked up a third project at Webs in Northampton, Massachusetts. Late as spring is this year, I suspect my daughter won't actually wear these socks until fall.  Webs is, by the way, an enormous shop with a knowledgable and pleasant staff.  There is always something on sale, a good discount policy, and since it's in Massachusetts, no sales tax on yarn.

Stalking stockings from "Knitting Knee-Highs" by Barb Brown

While in Massachusetts, I spent some time in Turner's Falls, a town I described in a post last November.  Like La Grange, Texas, it has a gritty charm, especially along the canal which has been repurposed as a hike and bike trail.

I think these scenes have a simple graphic quality and interesting muted colors that could be the basis for quilt designs.

Below the Gill-Montague Bridge, Turners Falls

Turners Falls has some new businesses catering to a clientele that I suspect the town's builders never imagined.  Loot: found + made carries an interesting collection of industrial chic objects, many from the area's old manufacturers, that can be repurposed as decorative and useful items in a modern home.

Inside Loot: found + made

I hope someday someone will figure out how to make similar good use of the buildings and other infrastructure in Turner's Falls and similar towns.  It would be so much better than carving up open space for new and inevitably less interesting buildings.

Along the canal at Turners Falls

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Gift for Baby Evelyn

The subject of today's post was inspired not by a place, but by a person.  Evelyn is the newest addition to our  family, my niece's daughter, and was born in December.  My gift to her was, of course, a quilt.

"Evelyn's Quilt" (48" x 48")

I wanted it to be feminine and sweet but also something she could enjoy for many years, so I skipped the baby-themed fabrics and used mostly florals, new and vintage, large scale and small scale.  I mixed in a few darker prints to keep the pastels from cloying and for a special personal touch added pieces of four recycled shirts that belonged to my brother, Evelyn's grandfather. The center print perfectly matched this multi-colored shirting.

I combined four different pink florals for the back.  I hope Evelyn likes pink!

I quilted it on a long-arm machine, letting the computer guide the machine in the center and parts of the corner stars.

I quilted all the rest of it free-hand with feathers around the border and an overall swirl for the inner border.

On a completely different subject, I can't resist closing with two more photos of this year's spectacular bluebonnets at Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area where there are acres and acres thick with bluebonnets. Remarkably one sees many more deer than people in this park.

Moonset and bluebonnets at Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area
Sunset over bluebonnets at Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange

Last week I took a little trip down the road from Austin to visit the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, a place I've been wanting to see since it opened in 2011.

It is housed just off the town square in two old brick buildings that have been carefully restored and repurposed as open, light-filled galleries.  One of the buildings was formerly a furniture store, as testified by the tile entryway.

The museum is not currently a collecting entity, relying instead on traveling and specially created exhibits.  At the moment, in addition to a display of eight quilts from the personal collection of Karen and Werner Gundersheimer, you can see the museum's first juried exhibition, "Butterflies and Their Beautiful Kin," and an invitational exhibition, "A Flutter of Butterfly Quilts."  The butterfly theme celebrates completion of the museum's garden, a lovely spot adjacent to the main building.

The Museum garden

The Museum's mural

Museum policy prohibits taking photographs of any exhibits so you will need to look at the museum's website to see some of the quilts on display.  I especially liked Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry's piece, Lepidopteran #3, which focuses on the fascinating detail of a butterfly's wing and is executed with Fallert-Gentry's usual painstaking precision and attention to detail.

I was familiar with Fallert-Gentry's work after seeing an exhibit of her work last fall at the International Quilt Festival in Houston.  Here is one of my favorites from her Fibonacci Series.

Fibonacci Series #15, by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry

You can see more of her work on her website.

A bonus to visiting the Texas Quilt Museum was finding a lovely new shop, The Quilted Skein, right next door. As the name suggests, they cater to both quilters and knitters.

The shop carries an array of fabrics, including an extensive collection of Kaffe Fasset prints with their trademark deeply saturated colors.

Wander towards the back of the shop and you'll find a large selection of more traditional and reproduction fabrics.

Throughout the store you'll find completed projects to offer inspiration and comfy places to sit and work or peruse one of the many books or patterns they offer for sale.

They carry an equally large range of yarns.  My friend admired a sample scarf made from Blue Heron Yarns Soft Twist Cotton so I bought a skein to make one for her.  I began it with a provisional cast-on and am knitting it in a knit one purl one rib so I'll be able to make it into a mobius scarf with a seamless Kitchener stitch join of the beginning and end.  The rib has the added benefit of making the fabric lie flat, unlike stockinette stitch which I find rolls at the edges even after blocking.

We grabbed an inexpensive but tasty lunch at Reba's, a few blocks east of the museum.

And spent the remainder of the day wandering around La Grange which is at an interesting stage of charismatic decay and rebirth.

On the La Grange town square

Detail of building on the town square

Midway between Houston and Austin and near Round Top which is known for its music and antique festivals, La Grange has become a popular destination and weekend getaway with shops and restaurants popping up to cater to visitors.  For example, Richard Schmidt Jewelry, right on the square, has a carefully curated and displayed collection of wares, from his own beautiful jewelry designs (of course) to home decor and vintage boots.

Inside Richard Schmidt Jewelry

Our drive home was as colorful as our day in La Grange.  Central Texas just can't be beat for wildflowers!

Indian Paintbrush

Bluebonnets and Drummond phlox

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Good Time of Year to Stay Home

Spring is a wonderful time to be in central Texas!  The mornings are cool, the afternoons are mild, and the skies are mostly blue.  Best of all, it's wildflower season.  Bluebonnets, our state flower, are popping out all over town.  I see them in my neighbors' yards, along roadsides, and in open fields.  If you take a short drive in any direction out of town you can find truly spectacular displays.

We are fortunate to have some nice displays at our lake house.  The best one is just above the water's edge in a bed of red sandstone.  When Texas isn't in drought and Lake Travis has a normal amount of water this area is part of the lakebed, so it is clear that bluebonnet seeds are hardy enough to survive several years of being very wet.

They are especially pretty, as so many things are, at sunset and sunrise.

In shade they have a very blue cast.

In morning light they look more purple.  If you get up very close you can see that the petals are iridescent.

You can find beautiful color in central Texas in more than just the wildflowers. I love the Tiffany blue of these eastern bluebird eggs! Sadly, this nest was abandoned when its nest box was knocked down.  Fortunately, we have over a dozen other nest boxes, nearly all of which appear to have been used this year.

Eastern bluebird nest and eggs

If you've had enough of blue, here is a little relief in the form of a Hymenoxys flower.  There are dozens of other yellow flowers - Texas star, coreopsis, scrambled eggs, zexmania, and Huisache daisies to name just a few - but Hymenoxys are the most prolific at our place at the moment.  Such a wonderful sunny yellow!


Much as I enjoy being home at this time of year, I am still thinking of future travel adventures. Where in the world might I go next? Appropriately my current hand-stitching project is a quilt top that brings to mind indispensable tools for the traveler, maps and compasses.  The blue points of individual blocks look like compass markers and when the blocks are joined the yellow portions make a circle and look like the projection of lines of longitude on a globe.  

The pattern is from "The Quilter's Book of Blocks and Borders" by Jinny Beyer.  When I chose the pattern I didn't appreciate that sixteen pieces of fabric would intersect at the block corners.  They have been a challenge for me and really demonstrate the need for precise work from start to finish. 

These blocks, which finish at about nine inches square, will make only a 45 inch square top, so I still have a lot of work to do on borders to make it large enough for a bed.  Perhaps I'll make a plain white border with stars in the corners and then a strip of triangles repeating the blues and yellows from the center.