Quilt Gallery

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Frank Shorter's Wisdon

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 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


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.

Friday, March 10, 2017

In the Brontës' Footsteps

If you are a fan of any of the Brontës, I highly recommend a visit to Haworth, England, where the sisters and their brother, Branwell, were born, wrote, and lived most of their short lives.

You can walk from one end of town to the next in ten or fifteen minutes, assuming you don't stop in at any of the many small shops and galleries which cater to present day visitors.

We had bitterly cold weather during our visit, and even with a heater going full blast, our hotel room was chilly. Imagine how miserable it would have been to live in there with only coal fires for heat!

We ventured out on one of the many paths to explore the surrounding countryside.

Rolling hills are criss-crossed with stone walls and dotted with sheep

At the edge of sheep meadows we passed through this gate to the moor, and up to Top Withins, the farm believed to have inspired Emily's description of Wuthering Heights. The lone tree on the horizon marks its location.

Though it isn't terribly far from town, it feels very isolated indeed.

And it is certainly every bit as windswept as Emily's vivid descriptions suggest. In this photo you can see how the grass and the tree branches are being bent by strong winds.

Of course, no visit to Haworth is complete without a stop at the the Brontë Parsonage.

The sisters did much of their work at this table.

A number of their belongings are on display, including this sampler completed by Charlotte just before her twelfth birthday.

Seeing this inspired me to dig out my own little sampler.

My original design has gone missing so I had to make a replacement. It is a small and simple piece, worked on cotton thread over linen. I'm hoping to be able to finish it within a week or two.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Winter in Massachusetts

We had the best possible luck in weather last week for a trip to Massachusetts. Snow fell conveniently on days we were not traveling and skies were mostly clear on the days we spent outdoors. Visiting our daughter's school for parents' weekend, we enjoyed picture postcard scenes as we walked between classes.

The Nordic ski track at Mount Greylock High School was in nice shape for racing. First there was a 4x4K mixed skate relay.

 Followed by individual sprint races. Very exciting to watch!

After the races we stopped in Shelburne Falls, which is pretty no matter the weather. The Bridge of Flowers is pretty even without its flowers.

We popped in to Mocha Maya on colorful Bridge Street for coffee and hot chocolate.

With all this cold and snowy weather, Isabel has been appreciating her cosy bedding. The exploding star quilt (more about that here)  has a double batting, and the wooly throw is very heavy and warm.

I made the throw for her for Christmas, using yarn and the Stowe -Horsehoe Cable Blanket pattern (size medium) from the Third Piece. It was a pleasure to knit with such soft yarn and gratifying to have it work up so quickly, thanks, of course, to the extra large gauge.

Until next time I'll leave you with one more wintery scene. I have admired this barn for years and just couldn't resist taking a photo of it dressed in its winter finery.