Quilt Gallery

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Urban Cowboy

I just finished this little quilt for my niece's baby son, whose nursery is decorated in a cowboy theme. I used mostly old dress shirts from my brother (the baby's grandfather) and my husband to make the center.

I had enough western themed bits and pieces to make a dark border,

and found these horse fabrics for the back in my stash. I quilted it in a grid pattern on my long arm machine, using the channel lock feature to keep the lines straight. After I quilted the horizontal lines, I turned the whole piece ninety degrees and quilted the vertical lines.

I've named the quilt "Urban Cowboy," in reference to the shirtings which spent most of their first career in city office buildings and, of course, for the cowboy themed prints on the border and the back.

One doesn't see cowboys every day in Austin, but in the summertime, you don't have to go too far to find a few. Nearby small towns host rodeos, which offer action-packed evenings of calf roping, bull-riding, bronc-riding and more. This group was awaiting the start of Wimberley's July 4th rodeo a couple of years ago. I love the nonchalant poses!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Autumn Fun in Western Massachusetts

This year, once again, I spent almost a week in New England at the peak of fall foliage season. On our first afternoon we made a quick stop in Historic Deerfield, Massachusetts. It was too late to tour any of the old houses, so we strolled along the main street and enjoyed trees and old barns glowing in late afternoon light.

The following day we spent a few hours paddling along the Connecticut River,

on a perfect cool and sunny morning.

Along this stretch the trees were just beginning to change color.

Although we have been visiting the Pioneer Valley area regularly for six years now, we continue to discover new places. This time it was the Montague Mill on the Sawmill River. We had a delicious dinner at the very cosy Alvah Stone, where the offerings are described as creative, ingredient-focused American food. On sunny days, you can sit outdoors and enjoy the waterfall along with your meal.

We returned to Montague the following day to explore the mill's other establishments, including the Bookmill, whose tag line is "Books you don't need in a place you can't find."

Exposed beams, creaky wooden floors, narrow staircases and over-flowing shelves all draw you in and invite exploration.

Comfy chairs and tables encourage you to stay a while.

We managed to fill an entire large shopping bag, though it only set us back about $80. My favorite find was this book, "A Jewel in New England," by Phil Billitz, about nearby Shelburne Falls. It is a simple book, combining inspirational quotations with terrific photos of the eminently photogenic Shelburne Falls. I don't usually go for the former, but Phil has managed to choose ones I really like. For example, and apropos of this post, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers," attributed to L. M. Montgomery. Regular readers may remember that I wrote about Shelburne Falls a couple years ago here, so it shouldn't be surprising that I like this particular volume.

Having worked up a good appetite, we stepped right from the bookstore into The Lady Killigrew cafe and pub for tasty grilled cheddar and tomato sandwiches. It was the perfect day to savor our sandwiches and our newly acquired books at one of the outdoor tables.

Somehow I didn't manage to get any good pictures of the fall colors on this trip, so instead I 'll share my finally completed compass star quilt, which includes a lot of fall colors. It is actually square, but you can't see the top part because it is hanging over the wall.

I found the "blazing star" block pattern in Jinny Beyer's book, "The Quilter's Album of Blocks and Borders, though I think it looks more like the design you would see on a compass, so I call it a "compass star. "

I pieced this entirely by hand and intended to quilt it by hand too, but decided against doing so because I realized that it would be tedious going, especially in the corners where sixteen pieces of fabric are joined together. Instead I put it on my long arm machine and completed the quilting in a few hours time. I kept the quilting of the stars simple and did the white borders with a pattern that completely fills the space. Unconventional, but it seemed more interesting than the usual feathers.

I don't recall when I started this quilt, but it was at least twelve years ago. I am delighted that it has moved from the "work in progress" category to the "finished" category, and though it's not my favorite quilt, it's done and I will be sure to enjoy it over the years to come. And I will certainly remember all the lessons in hand-piecing that I learned along the way.