March 20, 2017: Happy Spring! Project updates; family and friends time

Greetings!  Even though there is a fair amount of snow on the ground here, I am happy to welcome spring today!  Looking forward to nicer weather and improving health so that I can be outdoors when it does warm up.  I spend 2+ hours per day on elbow exercises/treatment and  there has been gradual improvement.  Time line for knee recovery is slower because it is a weight bearing joint so patience continues to be necessary for now.

After my last post, I thought more about the red background for my doll quilt and wasn’t sure.  I moved the hexies back onto the cheddar background and still wasn’t sure.  On a whim, I pulled several pink fabrics from my stash and was amazed to find that I loved the look of the salmon colored one:

I now have 8 of the 12 hexies  sewn to the background.  I love the color and am glad to have something different from my other doll quilts.  And here is the center set out on top of the fabric I have chosen for the border (click on pic to enlarge):

I’m very happy with how nicely the border fabric goes with the background fabric and enhances the overall look!

I’ve always wanted to try the “inner city” design for EPP with hexagons and figured since I am extremely limited in any machine quilting I can do right now, this would be fun to try.  After studying pictures of the design, I realized I need  hexagons divided in half into two colors, I need 3 fabrics in light, medium, and dark shades, and that I can make the hexagons using strips of each of the fabrics sewn together 2 at a time.  Here are the 3 strips – red and blue, red and tan, and tan and blue:

I mark the hexagons (freezer paper) in half and iron them so the marked line falls exactly on the seam.  I then use my Ardco template to mark the 1/4 seam around the outside and cut out the hexagons:

After ironing over the edges, they are arranged as below:

Voila!  I now need to decide if this is the color quilt I want to make – probably a doll quilt as I don’t think I’m ready to make a commitment to doing a large “inner city” quilt just yet.  Trying this design has been on my list of things to do for a long time so it feels good to get started!

I am working steadily on hand quilting Stardust, but there’s a limit to how much time I like to hand quilt every day so it’s going to take quite a while!  I am working on the 4th “fan.”  I am estimating that there will be around 50 – 55 quilted fans needed to cover the entire quilt, plus the border which will be quoted differently (either Echo or some type of straight lines)!  I’ve also started to outline the vines and leaves in the border so I will have only the background left after the fans are done.  Goal – finish by early October.  Hope this is realistic, but it’s a heavy quilt and summer is coming….

A reader asked how I am marking my fans.  Since I wanted a 10 inch fan, quilted every half inch, I cut ten individual templates in one inch increments from 1 to 10 inches in size out of quilters template plastic:

Then I use them to mark lines and I fill in the extra half inch lines in between afterward, mostly eyeballing the correct location for those.  The point of each fan starts at the end of the fan before and the template can pivot at the point to cover the part of the fan that extends beyond 90 degrees.

I hope my explanation makes sense!  These templates are reusable for future projects.  I know there are other ways to mark Baptist fans; one can “google” this and see videos for other methods.  There’s no right or wrong – whatever works for you!

I had a birthday last week and was lucky to have friends and family with whom to share it.  My daughter, grandkids, and their friend Abigail visited over the weekend to celebrate; the kids had a great time outside making a tunnel in the deep snow and making a snowman.  Wasn’t it just yesterday my own kids were doing this and not long before that that I was?!!!

Our good friends Craig and Liz brought their new granddaughter to introduce us to her!  Here’s Liz, reveling in her new role followed by Al enjoying holding the baby:

Al gave me a “singing drum”!  This is a beautiful musical instrument -percussion – that produces gorgeous oriental sounding notes and literally sounds lovely no matter what notes you hit:

This is great for experimenting with sounds, meditating, etc.  If you are interested in learning more about this, check out the “Vermont Singing Drum” web site.  Not only do I now have this instrument, in addition to my accordion, to play with, but Liz has lent me her alto recorder to play around with and see if I’m interested in learning to play.  Lots to do!!!

I will save the next batch of pictures from Thailand for the next post.  Happy spring to everyone!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,   Gladi

March 12, 2017: A good few days!; “Stardust” in the hoop at last!; more Thailand pictures

Greetings!  It’s been a good past few days!  During my third PT session on Thursday, my therapist told me my elbow is doing GREAT – I’m one of the best “elbow patients” she has ever had and I must have “good healing genes.”  I told her my arms should be strong because of my swimming and accordion playing and mentioned how much I miss playing the accordion so she told me to go ahead and try it and see how it goes.  As long as it doesn’t cause any significant discomfort, it should be safe.  I tried yesterday and I can play with minimal discomfort!!

So happy to be back to playing!!!!  I still have work to do on the elbow, but the knee is what’s holding me back the most now and I can’t force things – must be patient!!  Yesterday was also a good day because I was finally able to cook a meal for dinner – my husband has been doing all the cooking since my injury – and the check came from the insurance company reimbursing me for all my medical expenses in Thailand which I had to pay for up front!!!!! (but was way less than it would have cost here!!)

I finished the hand quilting on Spirit of Japan – I won’t show it again until I have the binding on.  And I have started quilting Stardust!!!  I created my own “Baptist fan” templates for marking – the fan size is 10 inches with quilting lines every half inch – and here is the first (of many!!) fans done (first the front then one shot of the back):  (Click on any pictures in the post for enlargement/closeups)

It’s nice to get back to easier quilting after hand quilting through the thick Japanese fabrics.  Even with thinner fabrics and silk batting, my stitches are not perfect because there are a lot of seams to quilt through and I refuse to stab stitch, except in rare instances.  After all, I’m not a machine!  Humans are not perfect and I’m not driven by perfectionism, thank goodness.  !  I do the best I can and am comfortable with that most of the time though will rip out and repeat if a problem is too visible and really bad – not very often!.

I finished hand appliquéing the second border for “Twinkle” and now I need to decide what I’m going to do with the top and bottom borders – not the same vine as the sides.  I enjoyed Audrey’s latest post at “Quilty Folk” talking about the process of creating something in 4 steps:  Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, and Implementation.  The design for the final 2 borders for this quilt have been “incubating” while I stitched the side borders.  I’ve been looking through books and on-line for inspiration and I think I finally have a vague idea of what I’m going to do so am hoping “illumination” has occurred and will start to implement soon!! 🙂  I’m thinking of a pot with flowers in the center and vines going out to both sides on the bottom border.  I’m thinking small wreaths for each of the 4 corners.  And scattered appliquéd 5-point stars for the upper border. Here’s where it is now:

I made great progress on the doll quilt.  Initially I was going to put the hexies on a cheddar background, but I looked at all my other doll quilts and many have cheddar backgrounds so tried red instead and I like it!  (I’m auditioning some border fabrics in the picture.)  Now on to appliquéing the hexies on.

It does mean I need to replace the hexie in the lower left corner as the red doesn’t show up.  Will replace it with this:

Here are some of the hexes I finished since last post:

More Thailand pictures!!!

First, we visited the “White Temple” which is not a typical temple.  It is a work of art designed and largely constructed by the most famous artist in Thailand, Ajarn Chalermchai.  He has a group of “disciples” working with him on this.  There are various themes – good and evil, wisdom, etc. – throughout the grounds and temple.  There are incredible paintings inside the temple by the artist, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside.  There’s also a museum on site which displays his many other works.  Enjoy the pictures of the external temple:

(You may want to google the artist’s name or the “White Temple” if interested in more info.)

We saw a lot of rice paddies, learned a lot about how rice is grown, and even went to a rice factory to see how it is separated and bagged.  All very interesting!!!

We visited a woman who has an indigo dying business and watched her mix and use the dye and then watched her employee show us how he uses stamps with various designs to apply wax to fabric before dying.

On the shelf in the 2 pictures just below are numerous stamps with different designs on them.  We each got a chance to stamp a small piece of fabric and dye it – I forgot to take a picture of mine to show you!

In the second picture below she shows how initially the fabric looks green and then within seconds of coming out of the dye pot starts to turn blue and gradually the color deepens.

A row of the indigo plant on the property:

In the woman’s shop, I bought a thin indigo scarf and 2 tops to wear when the weather warms up – will model them later!!!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi

 

 

March 6, 2017: New doll quilt started!; Thailand pics – visit to hill tribes

Greetings!  I have to wear the right leg brace whenever I am walking or standing for 5 more weeks – that means no driving yet.   It’s also hard to reach my sewing machine pedal with the brace on so I am likely limited for a while longer on projects that require the machine.  I’m focusing on hand quilting and appliqué and recently decided to start some hand piecing as well.  I decided to start making fussy cut 5/8 inch hexagon “flowers” and I think this is going to be my first doll quilt for 2017!

Here are what I have so far (click to enlarge):

I’m thinking of appliquéing them onto a cheddar background (rather than connecting them with cheddar hexagons):

I use a “no baste” method to make my hexagons.  I use an Ardco template, trace around the inside on freezer paper and cut out the pieces of freezer paper.  I trace around the outside of the template on the fabric once I’ve identified the section I want to use:

I then iron the freezer paper templates onto the back of the fabric pieces:

Then, using a dab of water, I fold over the edges one by one and iron down in a clockwise rotation until all six sides are ironed over.   The edges stay put, even though the “sticky” side of the paper is ironed onto the main piece of the fabric.  The feel of the paper edge guides me as I turn it over in prep for the ironing:

And here are the pieces for this “flower” all done (but not yet sewn):

Very cool!!!!  I don’t mind making the freezer paper templates and I love that I don’t have to do any basting!  I love the mystery of wondering how these are going to look after they are cut and sewn and love the “surprise” when they are done.  I like picking just the right centers to go with the “petals”.  And these hexagon “flowers” are wonderful hand sewing projects!  It feels good to get started on this year’s “Trio of Doll Quilts.”  (By the way, the templates come out easily when I’m ready to appliqué them down to a background.)

On my Thailand trip we went to the far north of the country and visited a couple of the “hill tribes.”  These are mostly Burmese/Myanmar people who migrated south into this area of Thailand.  They still live in relatively primitive conditions and continue with their own cultural traditions.  They welcome tourists and were eager to sell their creations – esp. scarves.  The 2 tribes we visited were the “longnecks” – the women wear gold around their necks to elongate them – and the Aka tribe.  The “longnecks” served us a dinner and played music and danced for us.   They invited us to dance with them – fun!!  Hope you enjoy the pictures (click on them for enlargements):

There are still more Thailand pictures to come in future posts!!!

Here’s a picture of me with the grandkids recently; they stayed with us for a couple days during their school vacation and I was able to play card games with them.

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi

 

February 26, 2017: Update on “Spirit of Japan #3 – Kuruma”; Thai silks; Thailand elephant camp visit and ride!

Greetings!  I am patiently (well, maybe not so patiently!) waiting for my bones and tissues to heal.  It is exceedingly hard for an active and independent person like myself to be bound to rest and to the help of others, but I am so thankful that I have that help and a comfortable home in which to rest!  My follow up visit is Tuesday and I’m hoping I can start PT.

Meanwhile, I have been hand quilting “Spirit of Japan#3 – Kuruma (the wheel)” and am about 98% done!  What is this pile?:

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This is the pile of basting threads which I pulled out of the quilt this AM!!!  For those of us who hand quilt and baste (or have basted) our quilts with thread, this is a fun moment, at least it is for me.  I just love getting my first look at a quilt in its “pristine” state, without all those threads criss-crossing and interfering with how the quilt should look.  So here are some pictures of “Kuruma”, unbasted,  with nearly all the hand quilting done, laid out on my living room floor with some sun coming in through the window allowing a good look at some of the hand stitching (click on pics for closeups):

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I intend this quilt to be a lap quilt for my living room – the colors match very well the red, navy, and tan colors there.  This also looks good with 3 sashiko pillows I made a few years ago:

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I spent some time figuring out the colors for the next stars in my silk quilt.  I did so by drawing a grid and filling in the colors I already have and then adding colors randomly but yet trying to make sure I don’t get 2 of the same colors next to each other.  This should really help me when I am well enough to start cutting and sewing more stars:

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Here are pictures of the Thai silk fabrics I bought.  I managed to find and buy them the night before my accident – so happy I found them, but I had been planning on trying to go back to get more and that obviously never happened.  Take my word for it – these are gorgeous and my pictures don’t do them justice.  I especially had trouble getting an accurate shot of the lemony yellow (which looks more like a washed out cream in my picture) and the spring green (which looks way too faded in the picture):

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I’m really looking forward to incorporating these into my silk star quilt!!!

We spent a chunk of one day of the Thailand vacation visiting an elephant camp.  It was a favorite activity of mine.   Elephants are essentially the official “animal” of Thailand and are revered there.  There are many elephant camps in the country where they are taken good care of and trained for rides and shows.  Each is paired with a “mahoud” who trains and takes care of him/her for the entire lifetime of the animal or the mahoud;  they develop a strong bond.

Here are my friend Van and I riding one with his mahoud doing the “driving”:

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Here are several more pictures from the 45 minute ride on the elephants by the group:

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While at the camp we had a chance to talk with one of the mahouds about his life with the elephants and ask all our questions.  His elephant ate bamboo the entire time!  During the ride and during this discussion we got to feed the elephants bananas and sugar cane which they took from our hands with their trunks and then put them into their mouths.

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Some of the elephants have been trained to paint pictures!

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While at the camp we had a delicious lunch.  At many meals we noticed that food was wrapped in and sometimes cooked in and served in banana leaves – very sustainable!  and attractive!

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Notice that the “pointy” green structures in the above picture contain, when unwrapped, rice!

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The food on the trip was wonderful and I will devote another section of another post to show pictures of food – unusual for me as I don’t normally take pictures of food!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi

 

February 20, 2017: Surgery update; Thailand pics – “Floating Market” and Imperial Palace

Greetings!  First I want to thank so many of you for all your well wishes for my recovery from my injuries and from my surgeries!  It means a lot to me to have heard from so many of you – so appreciated!!!!!

My knee surgery last Thursday went well and I came home late the next day.  The first 24 hours home were tough because of post-op pain, but this has significantly subsided and I am able to get around and up and down stairs with the help of a crutch.  Still not easy because of the elbow fracture though pain there is minimal and movement gradually improving.  Here’s my leg with its full brace and my crutch:

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For big chunks of the day I have to sit and have a cold pack over the knee as it is stretched out.  During this time I’ve read one book and almost completed another.  The one I finished is “The Invention of Nature,” a fabulous book about Alexander von Humboldt who lived from 1769 to 1859 and was essentially the father of the environmental movement.  He was the first to write about how all aspects of nature are interconnected and how deforestation has significant effects on all other aspects of the natural world.  The book is beautifully written, was one of NY Times 10 best books from 2016, and I highly recommend it!!!  I’m almost finished with “Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett, a novel of two dysfunctional families, also well written and recommended.  It got lots of praise when it came out last year.  I have also enjoyed her previous books, Bel Canto and State of Wonder.

I have also been stitching.  My “Spirit of Japan #3 – Kuruma” is structured like a scroll with borders on the top and bottom to lend a rectangular shape.  The hand quilting of the entire center of the quilt is complete and now I’m just quilting the top and bottom sections.  Since marking is hard with my elbow fracture, I chose a very simple grid pattern for the quilting.  It’s based on a sashiko pattern:

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This quilt is almost complete!  I entered it into the Vermont Quilt Festival and will wait to hear if accepted.  When this is done, I’ll move on to hand quilting We Are Stardust – can’t wait!

I’m also able to do hand appliqué and have been working on the leaves for the second border of “Twinkle.”  I had planned to work on this during my Thailand vacation, but had essentially no time for it so am catching up now – I have half of this border done:

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Since I don’t have much quilting to show, I’ll share some more Thailand pictures.  The first set is from our visit to the “floating market” for which Bangkok was famous in the past.  There are many canals in Bangkok- our guide says it’s been referred to as the Venice of southeast Asia.  At one time, many locals sold their wares at the floating market.  It got so crowded that it’s been moved a bit outside the main city and I must say that part of it currently is pure “tourist trap” however, it was still interesting and there were still some locals selling produce and freshly made snacks.  Here are the boats were took, 4 per boat (click to enlarge):

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And some pictures from the market:

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Everywhere we went homes and businesses alike had “spirit houses” outside for daily offerings for the Buddha.  Some were very simple and some were elaborate:

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The Imperial Palace was amazing.  It was constructed gradually over hundreds of years and each new construction featured the interests of the king at the time.  There were Chinese, Cambodian, and Laotian influences in addition to British ones, the latter reflecting that one of the kings spent time in England getting an education.  The gold you see in the following pictures is real gold.  Enlarge and enjoy:

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I still have many Thailand pictures to share over the next few weeks!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,   Gladi

 

 

February 15, 2016: A few Thailand pictures; knee surgery tomorrow

Greetings!  My knee surgery is scheduled for tomorrow so am looking forward to getting that out of the way and focusing fully on recovery.  I’m happy to report that my elbow is improving – less discomfort with movement and increased mobility – very encouraging!

Since I am going under the knife tomorrow, I wanted to at least get a few pictures from Thailand up.  One of the first things we did was a cruise on the canals of Bangkok and one of our stops was the Royal Barge Museum.  There were several barges on display – these are around 250 years old with beautiful carvings and lots of gold.  They were used by the king and royal family for special occasions.  Enjoy these pictures from the museum – click to enlarge:

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One of my favorite activities on the trip was a boat trip to a mangrove forest that is in the process of being restored.  In recent years as new trees have been planted, monkeys that had previously lived in the area and had left have now returned.  These are macaques ( think that is spelled correctly!)  They are not at all shy and the group of about 30 of them ran right to our boats as we approached.  This may have something to do with the fact that we brought bunches of bananas to feed them.  We threw the bananas to them and did not touch them but got close enough to observe behavior – fascinating!  Too bad I don’t have a video instead of individual pictures:

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One of the major reasons this was a great trip is that our leader was superb!  He’s a wonderful person, very outgoing and funny,  was very helpful and caring of how everyone was doing, and full of wonderful information about everything every day.  Also, there were only 12 people on the trip – so nice to have a small group!  And everyone in the group was wonderful and got along with everyone else.  So nice!  I met some great people!  This was an “Overseas Adventure Travel” run trip and I highly recommend them.  They have excellent trip offerings around the world and guarantee no more than 16 people per tour.  I don’t think this will be my last trip with them.

I have much, much more to share, but this is about all my left hand can take in terms of typing (hand positions affect the fractured elbow) so I’ll end this post here.  I’ll be back after surgery!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,   Gladi

February 13, 2017: Wonderful vacation, but rough ending

Greetings!  I had a truly wonderful vacation in Thailand until the next to the last day.  While visiting a Buddhist temple on the top of a mountain overlooking the city of Chiangmai, I missed a step on a marble platform and crashed to the floor, fracturing my left elbow and right kneecap.  Luckily I was taken to a modern hospital in the city and proceeded to have surgery on the elbow that night.  It was hoped that my knee would recover without surgery.  My wonderful friend, Van, with whom I’d been traveling stayed with me and helped me take care of all the medical and traveling details and we finally flew home this past Wednesday.   She was a godsend!  We were upgraded to business class so I could travel with my leg immobilized.  I saw my orthopedist here on Friday and, alas, my knee needs surgery in the near future to wire the 2 pieces of the patella together since they show some signs of separating rather than healing.  That was scheduled for today but is postponed for a few days because of a snowstorm.

Needless to say, it is no fun having both an arm and a leg injury!  I’m happy to say that I am already gaining mobility in my elbow and I am able to do hand appliqué and hand quilting to help me pass the time.  No cutting or work at the sewing machine for a while.  No swimming or accordion playing for a while either.  No driving!   I have figured out how to take a shower and how to use the stairs.  Luckily my husband has been wonderful about helping me in every way.

There’s no reason to think I shouldn’t fully recover from this, but it’s going to take several weeks.  I will post again very soon and start to share some of my Thailand pictures and adventures and include an update on my hand work.  By the way, I was able to finally find and buy some Thai silk fabric the night before my injury – just in time!  Will share pictures soon.

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi