Quilt Gallery

Friday, December 22, 2017

Austin's Trail of Lights

The Trail of Lights is one of Austin's great holiday traditions. Held in Zilker Park since 1965, it now boasts two millions lights.

Start at the tree on the opposite side of Barton Springs Road from the main part of the trail to take in the giant Christmas tree. It's made of lights attached to one of Austin's old Moonlight Towers (click here for more info on those).

Underneath the lights you can enjoy local treats, including Amy's ice cream.

Then head over to the main trail. You can't miss the entrance,

or stray from the trail. It is definitely well marked!

The displays are fun and funky.

Some have a distinctly Austin flavor, like this bat tunnel.

And the brightly lit trees seem to stretch on and on.

Up close, they look otherworldly.

There is even a big Yule log towards the end of the trail, which naturally made me think of toasting marshmallows for s'mores. Of course, the fire was so far from the barrier that no one could possibly have a long enough stick. Instead I went for the Lucky Lab Coffee Co. homemade s'more pop-tart. Yum!

Since the event is in the evening, it can be quite chilly. Lucky for me that I had a newly completed knit hat to keep me warm. I have to apologize for the creepy picture. This owl was the only available model when I was taking photos! Anyway, the pattern is an old one from Vogue Knitting, though I had to modify it by knitting the pattern section twice instead of once to ensure it was roomy enough to accommodate my hair.

If you want to take in the Trail of Lights, tonight and tomorrow night are you last chances before it closes for the year, so hop on over. Hint: park under the MoPac Bridge adjacent to Austin High and walk across the pedestrian bridge to Zilker if you want to skip the lines for parking.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday and all the best in the new year! 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fall Weekend in Seattle

Seattle has a reputation for damp and grey weather, so I wasn't surprised to land in the midst of a downpour several weeks ago. I was surprised when, by the following morning, the skies had cleared, and remained so for our entire stay. With gold and red leaves glowing in the sunshine, it was a perfect fall weekend for exploring the city and taking in the sights.

I had a leisurely morning run along the waterfront, enjoying fresh air and sculptures as I ran. Most prominent among the sculptures is the 46 foot high "Echo" by Juame Plensa, which has strange qualities of dimensionality. Flattened in one direction, from some angles the light playing on it makes it appear to have much more relief than it actually does.

In the afternoon we took an hour-long harbor cruise, a great way to get an overall picture of the city. The tower on the left is the Space Needle, originally built for the 1962 World's Fair.

After our cruise we hopped on the monorail to the Space Needle.

I found the monorail ride a lot more fun than going up to the observation deck of the Space Needle, which was crowded and reeked of carmelized popcorn. If you are looking for an observation deck, I recommend the Smith Tower instead. Located off of Pioneer Square on the southern end of town, it is much less crowded

and on clear days offers views of Mt. Rainier.

Still, the area around the Space Needle is worth visiting, most notably for Chihuly Garden and Glass. I was a bit skeptical about seeing a glass exhibit as I've never been a big fan of glasswork. But I quickly became intrigued with pieces that were inspired by fabric and baskets. In some, Chihuly laid down strings of glass like threads woven into fabric.

In others, he let the glass take on the gentle folds of old woven baskets 

He is also clearly inspired by bright colors found in native American trade blankets.

This picture is looking up at a small section of the Persian Ceiling, which takes up one entire room.

This real wooden rowboat filled with glass balls gives you a sense of the scale and playfulness of his pieces.

Chihuly has always admired glass houses and here combines a modern, asymmetric glass house with a single 100 foot long glass sculpture. I am guessing that it looks quite different depending on the weather and time of day. No doubt, it is always dramatic!

It also makes for a smooth transition from the indoor displays to those in the garden,

and under the shadow of the Space Needle. Even if you don't particularly like glass, this exhibit is worth a stop for its sheer exuberance.

No visit to Seattle is complete without a wander around Pike Place Market, a farmers market that has been operating since 1907.

It has expanded well beyond produce and it seems you can find just about anything, from meat to matchbox cars. It really is fun to wander around and take it all in.

Naturally I had to stop in at Undercover Quilts, a lovely little quilt shop adjacent to the market. I picked up this Japanese indigo fabric to use in the indigo quilt I've been working on this fall. 

No telling when I will actually finish this quilt, but I've got several other projects in the works and before the year is out I hope to find a few minutes here and there to share some photos of how they are progressing.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Fire! Seeing the Aftermath in Berry Creek

Last summer's 20,000 plus acre Berry Creek fire might deter you from venturing to that area of Grand Teton National Park for a hike.

2016 Berry Creek fire

In fact, it is a fascinating and beautiful place to hike. Situated on the northwest side of Jackson Lake, it is one of the more remote areas of the park, but well worth the effort to get there. Hike eight miles from the trailhead on Grassy Lake Road to the Berry Creek patrol cabin,

and you will cross through terrain with different fire histories: some that has not burned in recent times, some that burned only in the early 2000s,

some that burned only in 2016,

and some that burned during both fires.

Fire changes landscapes in fascinating ways. It opens up views that one would not ordinarily see.

It leaves evidence of its incredible intensity.

But it also makes way for rebirth and regrowth.

I found the new growth astonishingly beautiful, especially because it stands out so dramatically against the blackened trees and ground.


Berry Creek and Owl Creek are notable for offering a very different aspect of the park from the more popular regions closer to the high peaks. The trails are gentler and the canyons more open than, for example, Cascade and Paintbrush Canyons. They are also far less traveled.

Owl Creek

Along Owl Creek
Besides hiking in from Grassy Lake Road (here is a map with a route that covers both Berry Creek and Owl Creek), you can also reach the area by canoeing across Jackson Lake from the Lizard Creek campground. Note that this photo is from the parking area south of Lizard Creek - due to closures around the August 21 solar eclipse we were not allowed to launch our canoe from the campground.

If you plan to canoe, be warned that Jackson Lake can be quite windy, especially in the late afternoon, making the crossing dangerous. Should you encounter strong winds, you can take the longer, but calmer, way by hugging the shore all the way around the north end of the lake.

Happy trails.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dinosaur National Monument

Now that fall is nearly here, it's time for me to try to catch up on all of my summer activities, starting with a short visit to Dinosaur National Monument. Straddling northern Utah and Colorado, and encompassing the Green and Yampa Rivers, this 200,000 acre monument is a relatively quiet part of the National Park Service system. Best known, naturally, for its rich deposits of fossilized dinosaur bones,

Morrison Formation (Jurassic Era)

 it also offers dramatic hiking trails,

 and stunning scenery.

Green River Canyon

We spent a morning hiking the Desert Voices and Sounds of Silence Trails.

They pack all kinds of natural wonders into a relatively short distance, from enormous eolian sandstones,

to otherworldly plants,

and a maze of trails winding through low hills. Fortunately the trails are well marked.

Upper slopes offer wide views,

while stream beds with enormous old trees provide shady resting spots.

Later in the day we drove to the end of Harpers Corner Road, then walked one and a half miles to the end of Harpers Corner Trail to take in this grand view of the Green River, 

and hurried back to avoid getting caught in the storm that was headed our way.

On our final day, as we were on our way north to Jackson Hole, we took the time to drive around to the north side of the monument. With a name like "The Gates of Lodore," we guessed that it must be a special place. It didn't disappoint, though we were sorry not to be getting into rafts for a long expedition on the river.

If you are planning to spend a night or two in the area, you might might think that Dinosaur, Colorado, is the place to stay. After all, it has its own U.S. Post Office,

and a restaurant that stills serves meals.

Sadly, most of the town is closed up for good.

For more options, drive 40 miles west to Vernal, where you will find fully operational hotels and restaurants and be greeted by all manner of dinosaur.