Greetings dear readers! 2023 is beginning with a new project! How could it not?!😊. I was pretty sure that my quilting plans for the new year would include something new because I love that energy and excitement that comes with it and I also knew that after finishing The Inner Reaches of Outer Space I wanted to start another Foundation Paper Piecing project. It all came together for me after seeing the Tomie Nagano exhibit at the NEQM 2 weeks ago. Her incredible use of Japanese fabrics combined with her relatively straightforward, geometrically focused, piecing spoke to me and inspired me in a really strong way. I was instantly inspired to get out my collection of authentic Japanese fabrics – which I hadn’t touched in 2 1/2 years – and start planning.
I knew I wanted to do some type of log cabin variation and spent about 3 days thinking about the many possibilities, using one of my favorites references:
I seriously considered a pineapple variation, but each block would have required a lot of advance planning to make the blocks fit together and I wanted the freedom to choose my fabrics, block by block, as I go along. I ultimately decided it fits my mood and needs right now to go “simple” rather “ complex” so I settled on the most basic log cabin design and plan to let the fabrics take center stage:
These logs are 1/2 inch wide and the block finishes 6 inches. Here are my first 4 blocks:
Here’s how they look in 2 views of the “Sunshine and Shadows” variation:
I’m really enjoying using these fabrics and loving how this is looking so far. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to making a “neutral” or “low volume” quilt. I love color too much to go neutral, but these fabrics have a lot of lovely subtle color. I’m making the blocks in batches of 4. The next group in progress:
I don’t know what this quilt will ultimately look like – lots of room to play with different settings and variations as I go along – but it’s going to be a joy to work on !
Here are more quilts from that inspirational Nagano exhibit:
I adore the quilting motifs in those plain blocks!!
Such a great use of stripes!
Next post I hope to do a broader overview of what I’m hoping for 2023, but today wanted to share the excitement of the new project!
Greetings dear readers! Last January I decided my quilting goal(s) for 2022 would be to “explore, play, progress, and finish.” I wasn’t particularly “hardline” about which projects were tagged for which of those processes, because I wanted my quilting to be enjoyable and not stressful. Looking back now, I see that it was a very good year and I met those goals! “The Inner Reaches of Outer Space” which I started in January and finished in September is a good example of exploring and playing.
I explored the creation of a design that wasn’t symmetrical and played with color combinations and placements. I challenged myself from a technical standpoint to sew together hexagons and do 160 Y-seams and managed to make it all fit together!🙂. I also explored fabric and color combinations in my quarter log cabin Chevron top:
I designed and made a number of “monthly minis”, in each case playing with and exploring the use of different fabrics, colors and designs. Each one can be seen by looking at the last post of each month in my archives. Perhaps the best example of that is my August mini which doubled as my entry to the annual Cocheco Guild Challenge. We had to feature a geometric shape; I was one of the three winners:
I had some notable finishes! I completed “Golden Glow”, my “Hospital Sketches” sew-along, and a highlight of the year was having it hang on exhibit in the New England Quilt Museum and meeting Barbara Brackman there!
I also finally completed my “Dutch Half Square Triangle Medallion” quilt after about 4 years 😊. (The photo doesn’t do it justice – the colors are more vibrant than this.)
I made excellent progress on 3 other major projects. I finished the “Maple Leaf Rag” top in the spring (started 10/2020):
I finished my “Stormy Weather: Shine A Light” top in November – after 28 months and a mega amount of hand appliqué:
And I’ve hand quilted several blocks of “Sweet Journeys”:
My hexagon stars quilt came out of hibernation in November and the last stars are currently being made – total of 15 rows when the quilt center is done. This one was started in September 2017:
I started a basket quilt for my granddaughter this year and right now 74 of 98 basket blocks are made:
Explore, play, progress, finish – no doubt I met all those goals. I am truly grateful that I had the time, resources, good health, and support from loved ones to be able to accomplish everything.
Almost forgot – I also made and donated a quilt for my library’s silent auction fund raiser and it made a nice sum of money for them:
Of course, I am looking forward to similarly wonderful experiences of exploration, joy, and comfort in 2023! Fingers crossed 🤞! Other quilt related highlights of 2022 were attending my guild’s annual retreat, helping my guild to put on its annual show and attending my first national level quilt show (Mancuso New England Quilt Festival) since the beginning of the pandemic. I continue to be nurtured and inspired by the quilting community!!
My next post will be about looking ahead into my quilting for 2023. Am I satisfied with what I’m currently doing? Where do I want to go? Changes? One thing I’m sure about is that I plan to continue blogging. Thank you readers for continuing to check in!
Before leaving, here are a couple of photos of progress on Sweet Journeys:
And a couple photos of the sky on a recent walk:
I always try to be open to “wonder” and beauty, wherever and whenever I find it. Good for the soul!
Greetings dear readers! And Happy New Year! I’m happy to say that we are back to full health and “normal” functioning here in the Porsche household. I finished my Christmas tree table runner early in the month and was sure I would have the time and energy to make something else for my monthly mini, but, alas, that did not happen.
So this table runner will have to stand as my “new” December mini. However, I’m showing one of my older minis, too:
This one is around 14X17 inches, FPP, and hand quilted, from 2018.
The reason this mini is on my mind is that this week I had the opportunity to visit the New England Quilt Museum with a friend to see the Tommy Nagano exhibit before it closes today. Many of her quilts are log cabin variations. It was fabulous and I’m so inspired!! My mind is churning with potential log cabin variations to make!😊. I think there could be a “Spirit of Japan #7” in my near future…..
I’ll be sharing photos of quilts from my visit over the next few posts, starting with 4 of my favorites from the Nagano exhibit:
Keep in mind that EVERY STITCH in Nagano’s quilts is by hand.
As you view the photos, be aware that the lighting in the museum caused some of the value variation.
You can click on pictures to further enlarge for details if you wish.
As we walked through the exhibit, I kept telling my friend that I wanted Tommy’s stash!!😊. The fabrics are amazing and so essential to the spirit of the quilts.
More of these quilts to come in future posts! There were two other exhibits on view; one was a small exhibit of log cabin quilts from the museum’s collection. I think these 2 were my favorites, but I’ll share a few more in a future post. I especially love the first one:
The third exhibit consisted of quilts on the topic of sustainability, a vital concern, of course. All of the quilts had important messages, but I don’t think many rose to the level of artistic excellence. I liked this one the best:
I’m grateful that my own walks frequently take me through areas that are “natural” and left alone so that both growth and decay are visible. Here are some “winter earthly delights” seen on recent walks:
I’ll be back early in the new year with my usual “looking back” and “looking forward” posts because I continue to find this process worthwhile. Meanwhile, I direct you to Wendy’s blog “The Constant Quilter” to view all the monthly minis and to “Sew Preeti Quilts” for her wonderful summary of her feelings about all the politically related events of the year if you want to know how I feel about them because they match hers perfectly. There are links to both blogs on the right side of this blog.
My deepest gratitude goes out to all my readers for your continued interest in my quilt making and my musings, for all your kind comments and encouragement. I love being part of this blogging community and enjoy hearing from you, though totally understand not commenting, as well. I’m an optimist and am hoping for a good 2023 ahead. Wishing you all a peaceful, joyful year, full of satisfying stitching and creativity!
Greetings dear readers! We experienced a “confluence of miseries” over the holiday weekend. Al woke up Friday morning (the 23rd) with symptoms of the flu. This was just as the “bomb cyclone” began its pass over our area. The power went out almost immediately because of high winds and trees and tree limbs falling on electric wires all over the state. Two big trees fell on power lines a quarter mile from here knocking out our power and blocking the road. Luckily one didn’t fall on the house! And luckily the storm was all rain here, not snow! The power was out for 3 days, right through Christmas Eve and day – until yesterday morning. On the second day of the power outage, temps fell to their lowest of the year. Yesterday Al was officially diagnosed with Influenza. For the third year in a row we were unable to spend Christmas with the grandkids.
Luckily, we have a generator for these kinds of situations. It’s not a whole house generator, but it gives us heat on the first floor of the house, hot water, refrigerator function, lights in the living room, bedroom, and one bathroom, internet service, and a functional outlet in the kitchen that we can use for the microwave, toaster, and coffee maker. No stove or other appliances were available and the upstairs gets really cold. Nevertheless, the generator allowed us to be relatively comfortable and I’m very grateful we made the investment in it a few years ago; with Al being ill, I doubt we could have stayed here otherwise.
The holiday weekend was a total washout for us and I felt like I was in a time warp. I’m grateful, however, for the heat and light we did have and so sorry for those many who were worse off than we were, especially in Buffalo🙁. I couldn’t help also, however, thinking about the people in Ukraine, the attacks on their power grid, and how they are bravely dealing with so much worse than what I just described for us. I saw this on a recent neighborhood walk:
One of my New Year’s wishes is for an end to that war! I was impressed by Zielinski’s recent visit to the US and his reminder to us of how important democracy is. So we remain hunkered down at home waiting for Al to get better and keeping fingers crossed that I don’t get sick. What did I do while the power was down? The sewing room is upstairs so had no heat and I didn’t want to stress the generator by running the iron so I stuck to hand work. I had a bag of 10 EPP hexagon stars parts all prepped for sewing together and finished 9 of them!
Those are the stars for row 14. I also realized that I need to make 15 rows of stars for this piece to look right. You can see in the picture below that there are alternating rows of 11 (odd # rows) and 10 (even # rows) stars and the bottom row needs to be an odd # row with 11 stars. So….I have started my search for another 11 fabrics for another 11 stars for a row #15. After that I will design a border. I think it will have some appliqué 😊. To be working on that border is one of my goals for 2023.
I alternated making those stars over these past days with doing some hand quilting on Sweet Journeys. This block was completed:
I also started quilting one of the borders. A big thank you to all my readers who voted for thread color!! All 4 proposed colors got votes. Tan won, but green was close behind. I wanted the texture rather than the thread to be most visible. I decided against red and black because they showed up too much. The tan showed up too much against the black background for my taste. The green seems to blend in best, without being showy, against all the different backgrounds. I’m happy with how it’s looking!
I also got started with some stitching in a corner of the central medallion:
During our lost holiday weekend I soothed myself by listening to traditional Christmas carols. My favorite renditions are by the King’s College Choir:
I also like Baroque music by Tellemam, Corelli, Vivaldi, etc. and Celtic Harp music:
I read this lovely book (published 1994):
The idea for this book came from a newly discovered site, Tolstoy Therapy – tolstoytherapy.com. It has all kinds of book lists for your different moods and needs. This book was listed under “14 quiet slice-of-life books about the beauty of every day life.” About this book it said “…will remind you of the beauty and goodness of life.” It fit my mood and our library had it. I recommend the book and the website!
Even with the generator, we still had some periods without power because it has to be off and cooled down before adding more gas which must be done every several hours. We warmed up by the fireplace during one of those breaks:
My 3 amaryllis plants with 24 blossoms (!) grew really tall and keep making me think of Little Shop of Horrors 😊:
Al is feeling better this morning, as if he’s turned a corner. And I still feel well. I think we are on our way back to “normalcy”😊. I plan one more post before 2022 ends. Wishing you all a good last few days of the year!
Greetings dear readers! It’s the Winter Solstice and the perfect time for quiet and reflection, yet the holidays counter that with gatherings and celebrations. I try to find a good balance.
I found the perfect spot for my new Christmas tree table runner on the dining room table, set for our annual holiday dinner party:
That tablecloth underneath the runner was a splurge purchase many years ago when we were traveling in Italy – hand stitched and beautiful!
The nutcrackers are set out:
My library has this beautiful gingerbread house on display:
The little quilts and the details are such fun!
In quiet moments, I’ve been hand quilting Sweet Journeys. Two more blocks are complete and another started! I’m figuring out what to quilt as I go, as the spirit moves me, and I think it’s working and not coming out looking too chaotic. There’s still quite a bit of echo quilting and cross hatching as the appliqué blocks lend themselves to that.
My current block – filling in the stitching on the appliqué pieces before filling in the background:
I am trying to decide what color thread to use for the hand quilting on the border and would love to hear from readers if you have an opinion! Pretty sure I’ll be quilting diagonal lines a half inch apart. The multicolored border means that whatever color thread I choose, it will show in places. I’m choosing between red, black, green, or the tan that I’m using in the center, though am pretty sure I’ve ruled out the tan.
Weigh in with a vote if you like!
I’ve read several articles recently about potential negative effects of spending a lot of time on social media. They all mention that all that “scrolling” often leads to superficial engagement with whatever we’re interacting with. Our attention becomes way too scattered and we aren’t spending nearly enough time in quieter, more focused contemplation and reflection. We often don’t think deeply and widely enough about all sorts of important issues. There are important consequences, especially in how we spend our time and how we make decisions. I gladly don’t have a Facebook account. I do have an Instagram account, but don’t post often and try to limit viewing to only quilt related posts and only before I go to bed when I’m too tired for anything else 😊. I still love starting my mornings with a cup of coffee and reading my favorite blogs. I think I have my social media participation under control, but I do believe it requires vigilance!
Speaking of “attention”, I recently saw this quote from a book called “Winter” by Dallas Sharp, published in 1912: “Winter…is training ground for attention and the art of noticing.” I think that’s because all the bold and colorful foliage is stripped away and one is forced to search more purposefully – and attentively! – for beauty. Here are some photos from a recent walk:
I’m finishing up this post with a bit more from the Metropolitan Museum! The Tudor exhibit had some glorious tapestries, books of Hours, and other objects.
I forgot to photograph the ID card for the tapestry – sorry! Below are one of Henry VIII’s suits of armor and a fencing doublet from 1580:
Here’s another gorgeous kimono!
Our annual holiday dinner party for long time close friends – there were 12 of us! – was a success. It’s a challenge (cleaning and cooking!) hosting that many people, but an incredible blessing and privilege to be able to do it. I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this group of wonderful people. (No “guy” photo 🙂)
Wishing you readers all a great balance of time for quiet contemplation and reflection and for celebrating life with loved ones!
Greetings dear readers! When I shared November’s mini, which I gave away as a gift during my guild’s holiday party, I forgot to share the gift I received at that party – this lovely table runner, made by Beth:
The funny thing is, I sat across from her during the retreat and watched her make this!😊. She used a technique that involves sewing the fabrics right onto the batting.
I look forward to displaying it over the holidays! My quilt Bee had a holiday party last week with a gift exchange (Yankee Swap). My contribution was another “tree” table runner. I made this one 4 inches longer and used a different background fabric and binding than in the November mini:
I put a line of embroidery around both the edge of the top and along the binding:
I found a great backing fabric that’s been in my stash for a long time – love it when that happens!
I really made out like a bandit at that swap! Here’s what I got:
Each of those 8 packs has 6 nine inch square pieces of hand dyed fabric. There are 2 one yard cuts of white, plus another fat quarter and some appliqué needles as well. My mind has already started playing with ideas for using those hand dyed pieces 😊.
Al suggested I make a tree runner for us, so that’s what I spent quite a bit of time on this past week. I used up most of what was left of the floral background fabric and bordered it with a deeper red followed by green binding and made it yet another 4 inches longer – 36 inches:
I used another wonderful fabric that I’ve had for several years for the backing:
I love how this came out, but I’m more than done with making these trees!! No more tree table runners!
The other thing I did this past week was make several potholders – for us! We cleaned out the kitchen cupboard that housed our potholders. We’ve had most of them for years and, honestly, most of them were pretty disgusting – torn and dirty 🙁. I have quite a bit of Insulbrite on hand so decided to jump in and make new ones. Most have one layer of Insulbrite plus one layer of cotton batting inside. One has 2 layers of Insulbrite, which works well, too.
With the lower one above, I tried turning over the backing and sewing down by machine rather than adding a binding- it worked well though perhaps doesn’t look as nice. The 2 below are 2-sided, so 2 photos feature only 2 more potholders; I made 5.
I do love having a Christmas tree in the house and it’s a joy to unwrap, display, and savor the ornaments:
This morning when I looked outside, I saw this – our first snow! Less than an inch, but lovely:
My first amaryllis bloom has appeared!
I rarely get to the movie theater anymore; the last time, before Saturday, was a year ago to see West Side Story and that was the first in 2 years because of the pandemic. Al and I decided to go see Steven Spielberg’s “The Fablemans” this past weekend and it was excellent – I recommend it! With 2023 right around the corner, I’ve started pondering what my quilting goals will be – will likely do a post devoted to that 2-3 weeks from now. Always trying to balance finishing projects with starting new; also considering whether to try new techniques and styles versus continuing to explore the traditional designs that never seem to stop “feeding my soul.”😊
I’ll finish this post with one more Queen Elizabeth portrait and one more kimono from the Met. Elizabeth’s dress in this portrait is the best one yet!!
A less elaborate kimono this time, but interesting:
Greetings dear readers! The holiday season is truly here. We put up our Christmas tree yesterday, got the lights on this morning, and will gradually put the ornaments on over the next day.
Tomorrow evening is my Quilt Bee holiday party and I’m putting the finishing touches on my gift for our Yankee Swap. (Can’t show it yet.) I’m practicing my accordion every day for my music group’s annual holiday party on Friday. I’m relishing and cherishing gathering with friends this year, especially after the horrors of Covid, even though I know we’re not totally out of the woods with this scourge yet. I hope all of you are enjoying the same.
In quiet moments I have been adding quilting stitches to Sweet Journeys. For this block so far, it’s “echo” stitching around the leaves and berries:
I’ve been making new hexagon stars for row #13 of the Hexagon Star quilt:
From the New York exhibits, today I’m sharing 2 more portraits of Elizabeth I and 2 more kimonos for your viewing pleasure. The detailed designs of the clothing Elizabeth wore are mind boggling! And the embroidery on a Japanese firefighter’s uniform?!
Another red and white kimono with waves – I really love the blue dots on this! They add so much extra interest!
My recent walks in the woods are full of views of decay and disintegration – in contrast to the bloom and growth of spring and summer. The textures of the wood and the colors of moss provide beauty in the stark landscape:
I’m currently reading:
I love Strout’s spare, but powerful writing and highly recommend the book! She’s written 3 others featuring Lucy, all excellent as well. I’m actually thinking of rereading all of them!
Greetings dear readers! For this year’s Thanksgiving, Al and I traveled to Brooklyn to be with our son and his partner. Since that is a 5 hour drive away, we don’t get to see them much, so it was an especially wonderful time. We all pitched in to cook the holiday feast in their small apartment.
The weather was beautiful and every morning we walked 3 blocks to get to a longer promenade along the East River with this view:
Just a bit different from my normal daily walks to the pond, bog, wild Lamprey River, and the elk farm!😊
On Friday morning we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art – one of my favorite places in NYC – and saw the special exhibit on the Tudors (esp. focused on Henry VIII and Elizabeth I) and the special exhibit on Kimonos. Both were fantastic exhibits for textile lovers!❤️ Here’s one piece from each exhibit and I have more for future posts!
The kimonos ranged from traditional to modern. This was a favorite:
I love the poem:
We had lunch at a favorite spot near Lincoln Center. I love ballet and The Nutcracker. Friday night was opening night, but had been sold out weeks before when we tried to get tickets. Al walked in to the ticket office before our lunch to see if anything was available for that night and we got tickets in the orchestra section 10 rows from the front that someone had just returned !!!! Absolutely beautiful and fantastic experience!!
I was in heaven! The NYC Ballet is the BEST and the staging is amazing. These 2 photos are from the web site, of course
I forgot to mention that we went to the iconic Russian Tea Room for dinner Wednesday evening – it’s a lovely space:
My guild has an annual friendship/holiday party every November and we do a gift exchange, preferably something hand made. I’m using the table runner I made for that as my November Mini:
It’s 28.5 inches long, 15 inches wide.
I foundation paper pieced the trees and staggered the setting.
I added a line of green hand embroidery to set the center off from the border:
I machine quilted it and used some fabrics on hand for the backing:
I took some hexagon stars to New York with me for some hand piecing in the early morning hours before anyone else was up and will save those for the next post.
Go to Wendy’s blog “The Constant Quilter” (link on right side) to see the Monthly Minis by other participants!
December is almost upon us! The winter solstice, the holidays, the end of 2023, my annual assessment of what I’ve done and where I want to go…..Wishing all my readers a peaceful and joyful month!
Greetings dear readers! Here in northern New England winter comes early. The landscape has shed most of its colors, dressing now and for months to come in more somber and subtle greens and browns. I’m reminded to switch, on my walks, from looking so closely at color to focusing more attention on shape, line, and form. The weather is more conducive to hunkering down in a comfortable chair and doing some hand work 😊. On “Sweet Journeys” I’m trying to work in some little extra designs beyond the basic cross hatching. Here’s what I did with the second block:
And I did go back to the first block and fill in cross hatching in the center of the wreath:
This quilt has silk batting which is such a pleasure to hand quilt through!!
I’ve also been working on the hexagon star EPP project, adding (by hand, of course) connecting pieces for Row 12. This allows me to admire, again, how fussy cutting can create such fun designs!
I hope my enthusiasm for this project lasts a while before I send it back into hibernation!😊. Could I maybe finish it this time around?😊
On a recent morning the frost was lovely!
The pond was frozen yesterday, creating interesting surface patterns:
My tree viewing moves from studying leaves in the fall to admiring bark in the winter:
An interesting reflection on the river:
Two more books to recommend to readers who enjoy novels. “The Latecomer” is about triplets born after an IVF procedure. A fourth embryo was frozen in case the IVF failed. After they all enter college, the mother decides to have the 4th child (via surrogate mother) and the latter third of the book examines the impact of that decision on the family. Pretty crazy concept, but well written and interesting. I initially didn’t like any of the characters, but later that improved and I ended up liking the book. “Horse” goes back and forth in time between the 1850’s – focusing on a champion thoroughbred racing horse and his black trainer – and current day – focusing on 2 people “connected to” the horse in different ways. Really enjoyable story and writing! I also recommend almost anything Geraldine Brooks has written – have read most of her books.
We are off to NYC (Brooklyn) Wednesday to spend Thanksgiving with our son and his partner. I hope to visit a museum or two on Friday. I’ve never been in NYC on Black Friday so I hope it isn’t too crazy. For my USA readers, whatever way you are spending the holiday, I hope it is a peaceful one, filled with gratitude.
Greetings dear readers! I had a truly wonderful time on my guild’s 3 day retreat. It was great to be surrounded by my quilting community and be a full fledged member of my quilting “tribe”. I had great “table mates” and there was a lot of laughing. So good for the soul! I was the early riser who had responsibility for opening the gym at 5:30 AM each day. Within 10 minutes there were usually 2-3 others joining me. I grabbed this photo one morning before any one else was there:
My major accomplishment – besides socializing!😊 – was getting the “Stormy Weather: Shine A Light” top completed! 28 months from start to finish – but of course it still needs to be quilted.
I made the 4 corner blocks:
A big task was trimming all 4 borders to exact size. With an appliqué border, I always cut too big to allow for shrinkage. Then all the parts had to be sewn together.
I think I need to hand quilt this, even though it may take a while to get to it as there are 2 others ahead of it in the hand quilting queue, not counting my current hand quilting project. Speaking of which, I did get some hand quilting done on Sweet Journeys at the retreat:
I will likely cross hatch at least the center of the heart wreath, but not sure yet about the outside area; might just leave that straight lines.
Another project I rescued from hibernation and took with me was Hexagon Stars, my EPP “long journey” project. 10 rows had been completed and I need either 13 or 15 rows total. I managed to get all the stars for row 11 made and sewn together and am making good progress on row 12:
And, finally, I completed 6 more basket blocks for Ursula’s quilt:
It was an incredibly productive 3 days in addition to being a lot of fun. The weather was amazing on Saturday- 72 degrees and sunny! We were located about one mile from the beach so I had a beautiful walk each day:
How wonderful to be able to see everyone’s works in progress and share advice and encouragement! Here’s a look at some of the things that folks were making:
This next one is in lovely shades of blue that I was unable to capture well with my camera:
Members of next year’s Raffle Quilt Committee were at the retreat and the top of 2023’s raffle quilt was revealed:
What could be better than houses, stars, and trees?!
Now it’s back to everyday life, in which I am full of gratitude for my many blessings.🥰