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

January 17, 2017: Working with silk

Greetings!  I mentioned a couple weeks ago that one of my goals this year is to “finally” make a silk quilt and in the last post I showed you the beginning of that new quilt.   The reality is that I already made a silk quilt, but it’s a small wall quilt made for a guild challenge a few years ago. What I meant for this year was to make something larger and more substantial.  Here are some pictures of my previous silk quilt (about 24 inches square):

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I lined all the pieces of silk with a very soft and flexible interfacing – I don’t remember what brand it was; I purchased it from a vendor at a quilt show.  It worked very well to stop all the fraying at the edges of the cut silk fabrics, but it was a real chore to take the time to fuse it to all the individual fabrics.  I remember that it was pretty easy to hand quilt even with the added interfacing.

For my new silk quilt, I decided I didn’t want to take the time to interface all the fabrics.  I went to my go-to book  to review advice on whether to interface or not:

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This is a great book if you want to work with silk – published in 2000, I think.  It has lots of wonderful information about silk,including history and how it’s made and was used in the past.

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There is a great chapter featuring lots of silk quilts from around the world and most of the quilters weigh in on whether they interface their fabrics or not.  I’d say it’s about 50-50 – no actual consensus.  To me that means anyone working with silk should potentially try both ways and see what one prefers.

I paper pieced my blocks without pre-interfacing the fabrics.  Each block has 4 paper pieced sections.  Here is what 4 blocks look like pinned together on my design wall (click to enlarge):

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Each “block” is 8 inches so the above section will finish 16 inches square.  I’m envisioning a quilt with at least nine section as above, set 3X3 so that would be about 48 inches square with a border yet to be determined.  I’m thinking of “Galaxy Gazing” as a possible name.

Here’s the back of one block with the paper on (you can see I tried to limit the fraying by cutting with a pinking blade on my rotary cutter:

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Here it is after I took off the paper – still quite a bit of fraying!:

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The reason I took off the paper before sewing all the blocks together is that I want to “play” with the blocks and I can’t do that with paper attached!  Here is what the stars look like with circles in the centers (not yet appliquéd):

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I like the circles!  And I want to add some type of embroidery embellishment as well.  It suddenly occurred to me that there is no reason I can’t fuse a lightweight interfacing to the finished block to stabilize it!!  So that’s what I did – the blocks are 8 1/2 inches and I fused an 8 1/2 inch piece of interfacing to the back.  This will take care of the fraying and allow me to appliqué and embroider whatever I want on the blocks.  This is much easier than fusing interfacing to all the pieces of fabric ahead of time.  A neat solution to the fraying problem!  The silk is so thin, as is the interfacing, so I don’t think hand quilting will be a problem.

I leave this Saturday evening for Thailand!  I doubt I’ll be posting again before then and I will be taking a blogging break while I’m away.  I’ll be back the night of 2/6 and will try to post soon thereafter!

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

 

January 10, 2017: 1. More “looking ahead into 2017” 2. New Project! 3. “Spice Route” pictures from NEQM exhibit

Greetings!  I’m still thinking about the coming year and how best to spend my time.  As my time on the planet gets shorter, this seems like a good thing to do!  I repeatedly revisit my “guiding principles” to see if they still make sense – ” Enjoy, Create, Serve, and Preserve” – and I think they still do.  My daily mantra – “be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day” also stays relevant.  If you are new to my blog, “enjoy” means literally to enjoy life, but also very much means to try to maintain a sense of awe and wonder about life and the universe and all that entails.  “Serve” means to do for others and not maintain focus solely on myself.  “Preserve” means to help preserve the best of our planet/the environment as well as the best of what we humans have achieved, culturally, intellectually, socially, etc.   Promoting justice is part of serving and preserving.  I also want to preserve my body so I’d like to swim even more this coming year.

Of course, “create” means to make quilts and to make music with my accordion!   I can see the improvement in my accordion playing and hope that continues. This year I also intend to get back to my drawing course.

I always used my career in medicine as my major way of “serving.”  I need to find something with which to replace this and will explore volunteer opportunities this year.  I’m not rushing into anything yet, but this is important to me.   I also am contemplating what I can do to help counter the toxic political environment in the US.  I’m very worried about the fact that we are soon to be governed by many people with an incredibly different world view than mine.  I try to be open minded, but when blatant lies are held out as the truth, ego is all important, childish (and worse!) behavior reigns,  ethics are ignored, and lack of compassion is clearly evident, it is impossible to be sympathetic!  So I will be thinking of what I might do….

My creative challenge in quilting for the year will be to deal with the “push-pull” of balancing doing what is familiar and comfortable with the challenge of pushing myself to try new things.  I don’t want to get into a rut and do the same things over and over, but there are times when the “automatic” nature of a familiar process can be very comforting.  I don’t want to deny myself that either.

Last post I outlined some plans for my 2017 quilting.  Since then I’ve read a number of blogs that talk about completing UFO’s this year, specifically “17 UFO completions for 2017.”  This is amazing to me because I don’t have ANY UFO’s!!!  I have 6 “projects in progress” and that’s it!  Barbara Brackman mentioned on her blog that she has no resolutions to finish any quilts this year and only resolves to start new projects.  I think perhaps I should have a goal of having 17 new UFO’s by the end of this year!!  Well, maybe not that many, but I’ve decided that I’m giving myself permission to start several new projects this year.  My first one is underway!

I decided to pull out my containers of Dupioni silk fabrics and start on a silk quilt that I’ve been thinking about making for some time.  Here’s a picture of the quilt from a past issue of Quiltmania and a picture of the block construction (click on pics to enlarge):

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I decided to paper piece it, though that is not the construction method in the magazine.  I drew one block:

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And then proceeded to draw 16 blocks to create a section of the quilt.

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It’s tricky and will require strict attention to placement of the various colors and blocks.  On top of that the paper piecing blocks have to be drawn backwards to make the design come out correctly.  Lots of focus needed!  I decided not to line the silk fabrics with interfacing – that would be lots of extra work and potentially make hand quilting harder.  It does mean there will be lots of fabric shedding as that is the nature of silk.  Good thing I have 2 lint brushes in my sewing room!  I’ve chosen some colors to start with:

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And I also have several pieces of silk that I purchased in Japan several years ago and from some show vendors that I’ll use.  These are still in their cellphone wrappers:

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And here are the first 4 blocks (not sewn together yet), creating the first star!:

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This shimmers and changes color in various lighting!  I plan to make the first section which will feature 5 stars and see how it goes.  If I like it and the process, I’ll continue to make the larger quilt.  If not, I’ll make a pillow.  I’m thinking some embroidery embellishment would be a nice addition.  It feels great to start something new and I have more new things in mind!

I plan to take one border of Twinkle on my trip to Thailand as my “take along” appliqué project for on the plane or for down time (which I don’t think there’s going to be much of!):

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There are 53 leaves to appliqué and I can’t imagine I’ll need more than that to do over the 16 days; I might not even get more than a few done!

I’m continuing to hand quilt Spirit of Japan #3 nearly every day during this cold winter weather.  I love how doing small amounts frequently really add up over time and then it seems like “all of sudden” it’s done.  I’m getting close!

I’m closing this post with pictures from the “Spice Route” exhibit at the New England Quilt Museum.  These were just my favorites and the exhibit is up until mid February, I believe, so worth a trip there to see if you can!  A new exhibit of quilts by local art quilters opens tomorrow and looks very worth seeing too!  I’ll have to wait until I return from Thailand.  Check out the museum’s web page for details!

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Love the handwork/embellishments in this one!:

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