Quilt Gallery

Monday, April 19, 2021

Three Little Quilts

Over the course of the last year I pieced a dozen quilt tops, but never quilted any of them because Covid temporarily closed the studio I where I was planning to rent time on a long arm machine, and then I got in the habit of staying home and didn't re-book time to quilt. Now that establishments are opening up and I have one vaccine in my arm I am venturing out more and finally made it into the studio. 

I spent a long afternoon at Over the Top Quilting Studio in Cedar Park, Texas, and got three small tops quilted. (Photographing your children in the bluebonnets is a springtime ritual in Texas, so naturally I photographed a couple of these babies in the bluebonnets.) The idea for this first one, a cross quilt, came from the Dallas Modern Quilt Guild and was a great way to use up a bunch of larger scraps and some not so favorite fabrics.

I've previously shared a photo of this one, called "Blues Around the World," when it was just a finished top. I hand pieced it, using up a lot of scraps, during various travels before the world shut down due to the pandemic.

I think this cheater panel from Denyse Schmidt makes a really fun back for it.

Speaking of Denyse Schmidt, this next top is from the Free-Wheeling Single Girl quilt along she led last year. It's a little wonky because I sketched my own paper templates and pieced the circles by hand without being terribly fussy about accuracy. I've finally made myself honest by buying a set of the acrylic templates -- Denyse deserves to be paid for her creative work. I know I should have made more of an effort to pay sooner, but better late than never.  

As for the quilting, I used APQS's QuiltPath on a Millie long arm machine to quickly and accurately quilt closely spaced straight lines. Just set it up and let it go.

Now that I've got these three completely finished, it's time to reserve another block of time at the quilt studio. I should note that I felt completely safe spending hours at Over the Top Quilting Studio because they follow strict health safety guidelines to protect themselves and their customers. It doesn't detract at all from the fun of quilting with like-minded crafters.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

A Quick Trip to Yellowstone

While staying in Jackson Hole last summer we drove up to Yellowstone for a little change of scenery, and what a change it was. Yellowstone's famous thermal features make a landscape that is truly other-worldly. 

We stayed in Gardiner, Montana, giving us easy access to Mammoth Hot Springs. But first we just had to drive (and walk) through the historic stone Roosevelt Arch, named, of course, for Theodore Roosevelt, who placed the cornerstone in 1903 and who as president was so effective in protecting many of our national treasures.

From there it was a short drive to Mammoth Hot Springs where we meandered along boardwalks to see  strange travertine terraces and mounds, formed by deposits of limestone from the hot water bubbling up through cracks in the rocks below.

Mound Spring

Palette Spring

Orange Spring Mound

Liberty Cap

The many dead trees around Mammoth Hot Springs give an idea of how dynamic this environment is: the trees must have thrived in the not so distant past before underground "plumbing" shifted and the trees were overwhelmed by mineral-rich waters.

From Mammoth Hot Springs we headed east to a different sort of hotspot: the wildlife-rich Lamar Valley. Driving was slow due to several herds of bison, but I thought that was great since it gave me some good opportunities for photos. Here is a classic bison on the road shot. The hills in the background are hazy because of smoke from last summer's fires.

This was the best shot I could get of the black bear we saw. It was tricky shooting around so many other people, several of whom got way too close to it as they tried to snap pictures.  

(400mm, 1/250th sec at f7.1)

We spent a good part of our second day in the Norris Geyser Basin, where you can wander around boardwalks and paths to see all kinds of thermal features including steam vents,

little bubbling paint pots,

pools vibrant with color from minerals and bacteria,

and gurgling mud pots.

I especially liked the milky blue pools in the Porcelain Basin.

Yellowstone of course has many other spectacular sights: Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River to name a few of the best known. I don't think it's possible to take it all in during one visit so I am lucky indeed to have been able to visit multiple times and in different seasons.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Looking Back at 2020 Quilts

Now that it's 2021 I thought it would be nice to post all of last year's quilt finishes in one place. Of course, only one is an actual quilt at this point since I have avoided going into the shop where I could use a long arm machine to quilt them. Maybe things will change enough in 2021 for me to get them quilted and bound. So, here they are, in no particular order. 

The first one is Kaffe Fassett's "Facet" design, one of the few times I have used a published pattern. To make it more my own, I substituted a bunch of different fabrics instead of relying completely on Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

I named this mostly blue quilt "Sea Days" because it reminded me of the sparkling water that so mesmerized me during voyages to places like Antarctica and Svalbard, Norway.

I haven't thought of a name for this one. It's made from alternating quarter square triangles and solid blocks. I arranged the darks and lights to make stars pop out.

This scrap quilt made a pretty good dent in my scrap bin. I don't like it all that much, though I do think I'll appreciate it more once it is quilted. I used a die-cutter to cut out the triangles so it wasn't as much work as it might appear.

I found the center part of this quilt in my stack of WIPs (works in progress) pile and decided to expand it to a twin size quilt. The center was from the Sajou quilt along hosted by Humble Quilts back in 2018.

I think I finished this blue scrap quilt in 2019, but I never posted anything about it so I'm including it here. I pieced it by hand during various trips I took that year which seems like it must have been in a different lifetime! I am definitely looking forward to traveling again.

I didn't piece this corduroy quilt, but I did finish it for a friend of my mother's. I simply tied it and bound it. I love how the colors glow!

This last one was based on Denyse Schmidt's Free-Wheeling Single Girl quilt along. My version is very wonky because I made my own paper templates and I hand pieced all of it except for combining the blocks. This one will definitely benefit from quilting!


Monday, January 4, 2021

Easier Hikes in the Grand Tetons

In my last post I described several Grand Teton hikes that might be more challenging or time-consuming than everyone is up for, so here are five options on gentle terrain that offer beautiful scenery and even the possibility of seeing wildlife.

Taggart and Bradley Lakes (4 miles roundtrip to Taggart Lake, 6 miles roundtrip to both lakes, 550 feet elevation gain)

Park at the Bradley and Taggart Lake trailhead, a couple miles north of the Moose park entrance. If you find the lot full, an increasingly common occurrence due to the popularity of this hike, you may park along the west side of the road to the south of the lot. The trail is well signed and easy to follow and since it is a loop you can go clockwise or counterclockwise.

On clear days you will have lovely views of the high peaks, 

and see them reflected in the lakes.

Pick a spot along the lakeshore to enjoy your lunch along with the views.

Two Ocean and Emma Matilda Lakes (2 to 13 miles, up to 700 feet elevation gain, depending on route)

These two lakes are located on the opposite side of Teton Park Road from Jackson Lake Lodge. In spite of their proximity to this large visitor facility, trails around them tend to have much less traffic than others in the park. With gentle gradients and many different route options, they offer a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle often found on other trails. You are also likely to encounter wildlife, such as this deer. Be prepared with bear spray. We have seen both grizzly and black bears while hiking here.

Because there are so many options, I suggest consulting a map to help you choose your route and where to park. You can hike around just one of the lakes, or make a day of it and go around both lakes. You can also make it a very short day and simply hike to the Grand View Point. Here is Two Ocean Lake seen from the Grand View Point.

You'll also be rewarded with views of the entire Grand Teton Range. It was smoky when we visited this summer so I embraced the silhouette rather than a detailed color image.

Hermitage Point (10 miles roundtrip, 380 feet elevation gain)

The trailhead for this hike is at the southwest end of Colter Bay Visitors area, just past the marina office. Once again I suggest consulting a good map since this area has a number of trails and it isn't always clear which is the route to Hermitage Point. A map will also show you several shorter loop options if you don't want to go all the way to Hermitage Point.

About half of the hike runs along or near the eastern shore of Jackson Lake so there are many view points from which to see the Teton range.

Mount Moran looms up from the opposite side of Jackson Lake. Here you see it with a dusting of early season snow and a good view of the Skillet Glacier.

String Lake (3.8 mile loop, 275 feet elevation gain)

String Lake trailhead is a few miles north of Jenny Lake. Simply follow the signs from the Teton Park Road to reach the parking lot. 

This is another very popular destination, especially in the summer when swimmers come to the lake to cool off. Best to arrive early to get a parking spot. When you're done with your hike then you can wash off the dust in the cool, clear water. It's also common to see bears here so be sure to keep any food with you at all times, and put it in a bear box or your car when you go swimming.

Phelps Lake from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve (7 mile loop, 725 feet elevation gain)

Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve (LSR) is accessed from Moose-Wilson Road and is the only attended parking lot in the park, because Laurance Rockefeller wanted to keep this parcel a place for quiet and contemplation. There are a strictly limited number of parking spaces and you must wait in line to be assigned one.  

The benefit of the controlled parking is that the trails do tend to be quiet, though as you get to the far end of Phelps Lake you may encounter more hikers coming from White Grass, many of whom are headed to the big rock from which to jump into the lake. In the late summer it is a popular spot for bears to browse on huckleberries so keep your eyes open!

It's January now, so these hikes aren't really an option now, (though some of them can be accessed on cross country skis) so I will wish you happy dreams of happy trails in the seasons to come.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Great Hiking Destinations in Grand Teton National Park

In my last post I wrote about the challenges and joys of climbing Mt. Moran in Grand Teton National Park. Fortunately, climbing is not the only way to enjoy this magnificent park. Reasonably fit hikers can reach many interesting and scenic destinations in a day or less. In this post I'll detail three options -- Delta Lake, Lake of the Crags, and Static Peak -- that I have visited in the last month.  

Delta Lake (8 miles roundtrip, 2,370 feet elevation gain)

Start this hike at Lupine Meadows trailhead and follow the trail towards Amphitheater Lake. You may well see wildlife along the way, like this elk.

At the first switchback after the junction to Garnet Canyon, turn off onto an unofficial and unmaintained but clear path on the right. You are now in Glacier Gulch and will need to be more careful since the route has some steep and meandering sections and crosses a boulder field.

Delta Lake is a dramatic milky aqua, due to rock flour from the Teton Glacier above it. In clear weather you can see the Grand Teton looming in the distance but we were there in a surprise late August storm and instead found the lake socked in with snow and fog. It was magical.

This used to be one of the less visited high lakes, but social media has changed that. It is quite a popular spot now and I would only ask that visitors respect others' enjoyment of this beautiful lake by not playing loud music and trying to stay on the existing path instead of trampling down new ones. 

Lake of the Crags (5 miles roundtrip, 2,690 feet elevation gain)

Begin this hike at the west shore dock of Jenny Lake -- you can take the boat across (for a fee) or hike around from the Jenny Lake parking area -- and head north, going towards String Lake. In about a quarter mile, look for a well worn, but unmarked, trail on the left. This unofficial and unmaintained trail up Hanging Canyon climbs more steeply than official park trails so you may want to have hiking poles, especially for the descent. As you're walking look up for close-up views of the Cathedral Group,

and down for a great view of Jenny Lake.

Towards the top you will need to navigate across a small boulder field adjacent to Arrowhead Pool, then scramble up a short, rocky defile which will bring you out near Ramshead Lake. 

Continue along the path on the north side of Ramshead and then climb up the boulder field to reach Lake of the Crags. 

Surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides, it is a stunning place. On warm days you may enjoy a refreshing swim, or just lounge at the edge of the lake and take in the spectacular views.

Static Peak (16 miles roundtrip, 4,500+ feet elevation gain)

Start this hike at Whitegrass trailhead, accessed from the Moose-Wilson Road. Be prepared for rough going -- enormous potholes and large rocks abound -- on the last mile of road to the trailhead. Follow the Death Canyon trail for 3.7 miles, hiking up and over a moraine and passing the Phelps Lake overlook, to a patrol cabin. 

Turn right onto Alaska Basin Trail towards Static Peak Divide. 

This lovely trail begins in aspen, winds across evergreen forest and narrow cliffside paths, and finally brings you to the open and rocky Static Peak Divide at 10,790 feet of elevation. 

Now look for an obvious path on your right, 

and follow this along the right side of the ridge line all the way to the top of Static Peak. It is wise to keep an eye on the weather in this area as the name Static Peak derives from the peak's propensity to attract lightning.

From the summit you will have sweeping views of the trail you just traversed,

of Idaho to the west, and of the Grand Teton range, including the Grand itself in the distance. 

Looming up just to the north is the impressive edifice of Buck Mountain.

Like all the Grand Teton canyons, Death Canyon hosts abundant wildlife, such as this moose family we encountered on our return trip, so it is an interesting and worthy outing even if you don't reach the summit.  Also remember that near the end of the hike you will have to climb back up the moraine to the Phelps Lake overlook before the final stretch to your car. It can be disheartening to unexpectedly face that climb at the end of a long day.

If all of these hikes are beyond your comfort zone or simply require more time than you have, I'll write another post soon with suggestions for easier and shorter hikes in the area.