December 23, 2014: Holiday Greetings!

Sending all my readers best wishes for a peaceful and joyful holiday season.

I find it best not to get too caught up in the commercial aspects of the holiday, rather to enjoy the traditions, the music, the lights and ornaments, and spending time with those one cares about.  Focus on what you enjoy and eliminate what you don’t.

Sveta gets her quilt the day after tomorrow and I have about 18 inches of binding left to sew on and the label to make.  I started this quilt in January and am finishing it just in time!

Here is the binding fabric I chose – sateen of course!  (Click for enlargement)

122314 Sveta#1

 

122314 Sveta#2

122314 Sveta#3

 

I’ve become an expert at joining binding ends.  I just did 20 of these – one for each of the placemats I made for gifts so far and now this one. (click to see closeup – I meant to show a closer picture but somehow it didn’t download.)

122314 Sveta#5 binding

 

Several years ago I took a class on piping with Susan Cleveland during which she also taught her technique for joining binding and it is easy and foolproof – works perfectly every time!!!! Leave plenty of binding not sewn down on each side.  Overlap the 2 strips the width of the binding + 1/4 inch.  Overlap the pieces as in the picture above by 1/8th inch at each end and then sew diagonally from one point of overlap to the other.  It never fails to come out the right size!  The technique is described in this pamphlet:

122314 Binding book

I also highly recommend the following book for instructions on how best to join long strips:

122314 Strips book (rotary magic)

Here is a series of pictures that demonstrate this:

Start by cutting each end of the strip at 45 degree angle:

122314 strips#1

122314 strips#2

Then cut off the point at 3/8 of an inch in:

122314 strips#3

122314 strips#4

Then join 2 strips exactly matching the fabrics at they are cut and sew a 1/4 inch seam.  Works perfectly every time!

122314 strips #5

Nancy’s book is great for all rotary cutting advice.  More years ago than I care to remember, I went to the same high school as Nancy and her sister was one of my best friends!

I continue to make placemats!   I have started my 6th set of 4 and have 2 more sets to go after this.  Needless to say these folks are receiving their gifts after the big day!  Doing these and finishing Sveta’s quilt has delayed all work on my projects.  No problem – I want to enjoy the journey and am not in a hurry.

Here are 2 of a set showing the different fabrics on each side.

122314 Placemats#1

 

Here is the next set I’m working on.  I love these April Cornell designed blue, yellow and green fabrics and the recipient is an avid gardner so I think she’ll like them!

122314 Placemats#2

One of my favorite books that feature loads of pictures of wonderful quilts is “American Quilts: The Democratic Art” by Robert Shaw.  He recently came out with a revised, new edition and wrote a guest blog for “Okan Arts.”  He says “To my mind, quilt-making is a quintessentially democratic art, available to almost everyone.  Anyone with basic sewing skills can create a quilt.  And every kind of person, in every state in the union has made quilts.  The amazing thing is that all this diversity is tied together by a single thread – the universal human desire for self expression.  There is a lot of emphasis in quilt circles these days on technique, but what I think matters most in not how technically skilled a quilt’s maker is, but how much of herself she put into her work – how personal, inventive, original, imaginative, and authentic her creation is.  For  me, those are the qualities that lift a quilt (or any other work for that matter) from craft to art, the distinguish it from others of its kind and make it stand out among the hundreds of thousands of quilts that have been made in this country over the past 250 years.”

This quote got me to thinking:  what I am most proud of with my own quilt-making is that I create my own “original” designs.  Granted, they often use traditional blocks, but then I play with various arrangements and add or change other design elements as i go along, totally based on what ideas come into my head during the relatively long period of time that I look at and study what I’m working on.  The arranging and “fiddling” truly comes from some place within me and makes the work mine.  Almost all of my pieces are my own designs and are unique.  I like that.

Meanwhile – Al and I had our annual holiday dinner for several of our closest friends this past weekend.  We spent all day Saturday cooking, baking, and getting ready so we wouldn’t be exhausted for the gathering on Sunday.  Here are some pictures.  Almost all of us are musicians so not only is the evening one with good food  and good friends, but there’s wonderful music as well!

The appetizers:

122314 HP#1

Me (second from your left) and my girlfriends – Cynthia didn’t get the message to wear red!

122314 HP#2

 

Music before dinner:  Jonathan on cello, Cynthia on flute, Craig on violin, Liz on autoharp, Ron on guitar and Al on piano.

122314 HP#3

 

Dinner (forgot to get shots of the Coq au Vin and the cheesecake we made!)

122314 HP#4

 

Dick and Van dancing to a Cajun tune that Dick wrote!

122314 HP#5

 

My fellow accordian player, Skip DeVito:

122314 HP#6

 

Cynthia on ukelele, Jonathan on mandolin, and Craig on banjo:

122314 HP#7

 

Next day after cleanup!!

122314 HP#8

What I’m reading:
122314 Journey to Lhasa

Just getting started with this one for my next book group meeting.  So far, it’s very good.  Fascinating first person account of this woman’s trek into Tibet and Lhasa in the 1920’s when foreigners were not generally allowed into Lhasa and especially women so she had to be disguised.

What I’m listening to:

I am not now a Christian but was raised a Christian in the Methodist church.  I grew up listening to and singing all the traditional Christmas carols and still love listening to them at this time of year.  My favorite CD features wonderful versions of all the main carols sung by Trinity Choir in Cambridge, England:

122314 Carols

I also love O’Carolan tunes and Renaissance dance music; they feel very “holiday” to me:

122314 O'Carolan

122314 Dance Music

Also love a group called Stile Antico – 12 men and women, no instruments, gorgeous voices singing songs from hundreds of years ago:

122314 Stile Antico

 

I’m looking forward to family coming for Christmas day.  Once that passes, I have a couple more weeks off work and plan to get back to hand quilting Spring Sonata and making some real progress!

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Cherish every day!

 

 

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