Quilt Gallery

Monday, July 31, 2017

Family Time in Florida

Earlier this month I spent a couple of weeks with my parents in Florida. Life is pretty quiet where they live, especially during the summer when the heat and humidity keep people indoors for most of the day. It was a good time to work on some knitting and hand sewing projects.

Regular readers may remember that in January I purchased several different kinds of yarn as candidates for a Fair Isle sweater. I am making pillow covers instead of small swatches. In addition to knowing how each yarn will look made up as a sweater, I will have something useful, and reasonably attractive, for my efforts. 


I finished this one while in Florida, using up almost all of five quarter skeins of Hill Country Weaver's incredibly soft Merino Alpaca. The yarn is a pleasure to work with and yields stitch definition that is well-suited to Fair Isle. But at $35 for a full skein it will be kind of pricy to make an entire sweater. I'll just have to see how the other options turn out.


For anyone interested in Fair Isle knitting, I highly recommend the Philosopher's Wool technique, which can be found here. Thanks to Lucy at Quilting with the Past for pointing it out to me two years ago. The strands are worked in as you go, resulting in a back without loose bits to get caught in fingernails or jewelry, and a smooth front that doesn't pucker.

I also made significant progress on my Westering Women quilt top. I've gotten all the sashing attached and the blocks sewn together and now just need to decide on a border. Maybe I can find  something to temper the heavy dose of cheddar in the sashing.


Although I spent a lot of time indoors in Florida, I did get out enough to get a couple of shots of the local color. I spotted this little boat while walking around one morning in the nearby downtown, which is really an outdoor mall.


I enjoyed watching a pair of sandhill cranes that frequented my parents' backyard. Their red faces and orange eyes are rather dramatic.





Friday, June 30, 2017

25 Years

Quilts have a long tradition of being made to commemorate important events. Births, weddings, graduations, and even deaths have been marked with lovingly stitched pieces. This is as true today as ever, and encompasses quilts of modern design as much as those of traditional design.

Earlier this month I completed a "modern" quilt to celebrate a 25th anniversary. I won't discuss how late the presentation was relative to the actual event, except to say that I found it a tad daunting to design a modern quilt for a couple in which the husband is an architect who specializes in modern, and exquisitely crafted, homes, and the wife is a former advertising executive with a great sense of style.

I discarded several ideas before settling on this simple graphic design of twenty five blocks as a subtle reference to the couple's years together.


Funny thing about this design is that, unknown to me, or at least not remembered by me, a number of years ago the wife stitched a needlepoint pillow cover with the same design! And they both share the same orangey red.


I pieced the quilt by machine and quilted it entirely by hand, echoing the shape of each triangle. Viewed up close the texture really stands out.


Viewed from a distance the bold design is more apparent.


I pieced the back from two other solid colors, pale enough not to show through the cream on the front.


In the end, it was worth taking the time to get the design right.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Summer Greens

I knit this wrap for my sweet cousin and actually had it delivered to her in time for her birthday earlier this month, one of the few times I have finished a project well before the event it was meant to celebrate.


But I got an early start, having fallen for the Raven Ridge yarn at Knit on Pearl in Jackson, Wyoming, last summer. The luxurious silk and merino blend yarn made working on this such a great pleasure that I picked it up at every opportunity and finished quickly.


As I noted the first time I knit the Calza wrap pattern, it is completely reversible, thanks to garter stitch for the body of the work and a knit one/purl one ribbed cable edging.


Raven Ridge yarns are hand dyed in Montana with colors inspired by Montana landscapes. This particular yarn color, called Wolf Lichen, is a light, variegated green that really does look like wolf lichen, which you can see growing on conifers in the western states.


Since the yarn is very much a product of the west, I'll finish this post with a few pictures from Jackson Hole, one of the west's iconic locations. The John Moulton Barn, one of the remaining structures from old homesteads along Mormon Row, is a popular spot for watching the sun rise on the high peaks.


Other Mormon Row structures may be less dramatic, but have their own charm.


The area is, of course, most famous for its natural beauty. In early summer the valley is bright with wildflowers,


 while up high the lakes may still be frozen over.

Ice and reflections on Goodwin Lake

Dramatic skies are as important to the scenery as what is on the ground. Summer storm clouds roll in from the west, usually in the afternoon.

Clouds over the Tetons, seen from the top of Snow King Mountain

Morning clouds, like these seen at Schwabacher's Landing, may portend a mostly rainy, but still beautiful, day.


May all our rainy days be filled with beauty!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Frank Shorter's Wisdom

A little over a week ago I had the pleasure of attending my daughter's graduation from Northfield Mount Hermon School. Having been a runner for nearly forty years, I was naturally excited to hear Frank Shorter's commencement address. Shorter is an alumnus of the school, and the winner of two Olympic marathon medals: gold in 1972 and silver in 1976. I was not disappointed.


In a good natured and folksy way, Shorter shared the ups and downs of his journey to the Olympics and beyond, graciously giving credit to individuals who served as mentors and guides along the way, and making us laugh at some of his high school hijinks.

He touched on his difficult childhood and how it left indelible marks on him. One of the more noticeable marks is how he carries his arms when running, with his left arm close to his side and his right arm swinging freely. To get away from his abusive home, he regularly ran to school. This, of course, was in the days before school children carried their books in backpacks and so he carried his books in his left arm, close to his side.

Though Shorter's advice was directed at the graduating students, his messages resonated with me, and, I suspect, many of the other family members, friends and faculty in the audience. He shared with us his thoughts as he stood on the starting line of the 1972 Olympic marathon in Munich, Germany. He told us that he made a conscious decision not to think about the terrorists who, only days before, had attacked the games and taken Israeli athletes hostage. Even though the marathon, by its nature, was the least secure venue, he believed that thinking about the terrorists would mean that they had won.


As Frank Shorter stood at that starting line in Munich he also chose not to think about any "what ifs?," such as "What if I didn't train enough?" Instead he just told himself, "Let's see." In other words, don't undermine your efforts with self doubt. Better just get on with it, do the best you can, and see what comes of it. I can confirm that this attitude really does help in running. My very best races were run with exactly that mind set.

Of course, Shorter wasn't really talking about running when he told this story. He was talking about every endeavor one might undertake throughout a lifetime. That's a point worth remembering every day.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Knitter's Project Bag

If I had any doubts as to whether my daughter was a serious knitter, they were banished when I stepped into her dorm room on Monday to find three large cartons filled with yarn and knitting paraphernalia. Not that I really had any doubts. She knit a sweater for herself over Christmas break and for weeks has been dropping not so subtle hints that she could really use a nice project bag in which to carry around her work.


Knowing that knitters tend to work on more than one project at a time, I designed this roomy bag (18” x 12” x 6”) with a middle pocket dividing it into two sections.


The blue canvas came from my stash, the colorful canvas came from The Cloth Pocket in Austin, and the outsides of the pocket were from small lightweight cotton bags. I have quite a collection of these bags as so many stores and organizations use them these days in place of disposable plastic bags.

The polar bears on the inside of the pocket are a nod to my daughter’s interest in wild life.


I’ll leave you with a couple wildlife photos. I spotted these darling little fox kits while out running one morning and went back later in the day with my camera, hoping they would still be there. Their den is beneath an abandoned and condemned old farmhouse and they were playing among the detritus collected outside.



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Wildflowers

It is springtime in central Texas and that means wildflowers. Now that the bluebonnets have faded, Indian blankets have taken their turn in the spotlight, filling meadows with waves of orangey red blooms.


This year I've had fun playing with a macro lens and a 100-400 mm lens to zoom in on details. If you get close you can see yellow petal tips on Indian blankets.


If you get even closer you can see who likes to nibble on those petals,


You might also find other flowers, like these tiny mountain pinks, hidden in their midst.


By getting close you can really appreciate how saturated wildflower colors are. This bloom is from a six-foot tall cactus.


There is also a surprising variety of lavender and purple flowers, such as Texas skeleton plant,


horse mint,


American basket flower,


prairie verbena,


and Venus' looking glass.


I've had my share of color in the sewing room too. I stitched up a wall hanging with the blocks I received last year though Barb Vedder's broken dishes block swap. The colors are every bit as varied and saturated as spring-time wildflowers.


I added a sawtooth border,


and quilted it with a simple geometric pattern on the long arm machine. If I were to do it over again I would use red thread on the top rather than white.


Still, I'm pleased with how it turned out and it certainly brightens up my sewing room.


Wishing you a happy spring!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Slow Sewing


2017 has gotten off to a slow start in the sewing department, but I count that as a good thing. I've had some nice distractions, such as houseguests,


and beautiful weather for being outdoors. We've had some great sunsets



and meadows full of wildflowers to enjoy.





I did finally finish this little quilt. I pieced, quilted and bound it entirely by hand.


I quilted the 16-patch squares across the diagonals.


For the solid blocks I used a vine and leaf design


inspired by decorative painting on walls of the Forbidden City in Beijing, which I visited last summer.


It is destined to keep my legs warm on cool nights when we watch movies at home. Aside from being a convenient travel project, it gave me a chance to use up a few of my scraps and some practice hand quilting before I take on a more important project.