April 29, 2022: April’s Monthly Mini: ”Janet’s Gift”; Earthly Delights

Greetings dear readers! If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that I received this lovely gift from Janet O. at ”Rogue Quilter” for participating in her scrap bag challenge:

I decided it was time to use these fabrics in a mini so I made this little doll quilt:

I went with rectangles because it’s a shape I don’t use that often and I supplemented with some red from my own stash. I hand appliqued the white strips in the border, but the piecing and quilting is by machine.

Size is 14X16.5 inches. It’s imperfect – like me! – but I like it! I used a piece of French General for the back:

Thank you Janet for your gift which inspired me to make this doll quilt and I’m calling it ”Janet’s Gift.”

I also made something else this month that I consider part of my ”mini” work – 3 reversible hot pads:

The other sides:

These are each 8.5 inches square and have a layer of Insulbrite (heat resistant) as well as regular batting inside. My old hotpads were disreputable looking 😝. These are so much nicer and were easy to make!

Spring in New England tends to creep up slowly and I’m relishing the changes. Just this week the pond has become filled with fat little tadpoles which are hard to photograph because they swim away at the slightest sound. They look like elongated smudges in the photos (I count 5 in the first photo):

Soon they’ll be frogs!

From the pond, I walk down to the river:

Along the way I admire the greening up of the bushes:

And I visit my favorite Forest Monument:

The Wild and Scenic Lamprey River is high and flowing strong at this time of year:

The sound of the rapids is soothing:

On my way back, I study some of the many buds and baby leaves I see:

When I get back, more cleaning out of the garage awaits!!😊

We have gotten rid of a ton of stuff – the dumpster is almost full! – and it feels great! These boxes are all empty now, flattened, and removed. But I can’t end this post with that picture so here’s one of a lovely sky recently:

Be sure to visit Wendy’s blog, The Constant Quilter (link on the right side)to see all the monthly minis for April. Have a great weekend!

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

April 23, 2022: Thoughts and Happenings

Greetings dear readers! The Maple Leaf Rag top needs only the vein and stem embellishments on the lower two corners’ leaves in order to be finished! It is 91 inches square, doesn’t fit on the design wall, and is impossible to lay out flat anywhere in my house. Yesterday when the sun was shining I did my best to get some photos on our porch. These will likely be the last photos I post of MLR until it is quilted – by a long armer, not me! I started it in late September 2020, so a bit more than a year and a half ago, and I’m thrilled to get it to this point!

I’ve also been working on April’s mini and slowly removing the foundation papers from IROS.

This quilt has had me thinking of pins and pinning! So much important pinning is needed for accurate Y seams. I have not bought new pins in forever and started to notice a lot of bent pins. I think this just happens with use over time and I decided to treat myself to some new pins. My guild gave me a gift certificate to a local quilt shop as a thank you for doing a demo on prepared edge applique for them, and here’s what I bought:

Two sizes of ”Magic” pins. The fact they’re heat resistant doesn’t mean much for me as I don’t iron over pins, but I like the easy grip handles. I stocked up on my favorite Tulip hand work needles and I added to my upgraded collection of Quilters Select rulers, which I LOVE! I started with the 3×18 inch and these new ones are 6 1/2 inch square and 12×6 inches.

Before I leave the topic of pins, I want to confess that I routinely sew over pins with my machine. I usually slow down as I go over the pin, especially when I’m using a short stitch length, and this allows the needle to slide around the pin. I very occasionally break a needle, especially if I forget and go too fast, but I often go months without that happening. I have never, ever – in 28 years of quilting! – had a sewing machine needle hitting a pin and cause any kind of damage to my machines; Berninas for the past 21 years. I know I have read some quilters say ”never!” sew over pins, but recently I was happy to see another experienced quilter say it’s OK as long as you slow down. Feel free to share any thoughts you have on this and also any pin recommendations – are the relatively new Karen Kay Buckley pins worth the cost? I’m thinking of trying some.

At this week’s guild meeting, I won one of the 2 door prizes – first time in years!😊 A mini wool pressing mat and a kit to make a quilt block for Ukraine:

My lucky day! Our speaker for the meeting was Pam Weeks, the curator of the NE Quilt Museum, talking about some of the quilting pioneers of the early 20th century who actually created businesses lecturing and creating and selling patterns and kits – Marie Webster, Ruth Finley, Carrie Hall, etc. She had a few quilts with her:

She pointed out the “negative space” on these quilts – room for quilting! – which is so in vogue with modern quilters right now.

Look what’s in my driveway right now – a huge dumpster!

We demolished our 49 year old shed which was seriously deteriorating and hope to get a new one installed this summer. Meanwhile, having the dumpster is a great excuse to clean out our garage and attic of ”so much stuff” that we really don’t need anymore. This is cutting into my quilting time, but absolutely worth it!🙂 Almost 6 years into retirement, I’m finally throwing away all the stuff I cleaned out of my office and saved ”just in case” I decided to go back to work. I now know that is never happening! I’m saving one small folder with a few performance evaluations to remind me of all the things I did. I’ll remove from their frames and save the certificates of my med school graduation and my Internal Medicine Board Certification. I have a few cards from patients and staff and a fun CD full of photos from my 32 years of working at the University. And that will be all that’s left to remind me of 45 years of devotion to medicine! And I’m perfectly OK with that!

But is it any wonder that I’m reading books about loss?!😐 I highly recommend both of these books:

The Mary Pipher book is a re-read and well worth it. The Bruni book is the story of his sudden loss of vision in one eye in his early 50’s and how he handled it, but he also talks about dealing with loss, in general, which we ALL need to do, and gives many examples. He’s an excellent writer so the book is a pleasure to read, as is the Pipher book.

One of the very best ways I deal with stress and loss (along with quilting!) is my quiet walks in nature; there’s nothing like it to calm and center myself, correct my perspective, and make me grateful. So, I will end this post with some recent photos of spring’s arrival in my neighborhood:

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

April 16, 2022: Finally happy with MLR Corners!; More from the quilt museum

Greetings dear readers! After my last post, my reader Kyle commented that she liked the 3 leaves for the corners of MLR, but thought the converging branches still seemed to stop too abruptly. I went back to the design wall and studied some more and realized that if I moved the leaves and berries inward closer to the corner of the light green inner border, they seemed to close that gap between the branches better. Much better IMHO!!

And here’s a photo with the leaves and berries for the upper right corner pinned on and the middle of the quilt folded over so you can see what this looks like with both upper corner designs on:

I’m finally happy with this solution! I’m making these maple leaves with the prepared edge applique method and there are several curves to deal with:

This is probably the most complicated shape I’ve done with ”prepared edge” technique and has made me realize that I have quietly morphed over the past 3-4 years from exclusively doing needleturn applique to mostly using the prepared edge technique. There was no conscious decision to change; it just happened as I became more comfortable with the newer (for me) technique. I enjoy the prepping (for the most part!) and I like the speed of the hand work with the edge already turned.

Here are some more photos of quilts from the Barb Vedder and Bird exhibits recently at the NEQM (now closed)for you to enjoy:

Look at all the wonderful fabrics in this great quilt (I apologize for the lighting effect from the window to the right of the quilt!):

I love Barb’s use of lettering in this next one and I love how her quilting and fabric choices go with the theme:

Love her use of red and the hand quilted circles on this:

Love these houses!

And now for some bird quilts:

I still have several more wonderful photos to share in upcoming posts! Honestly, this was one of the best groups of exhibits at the museum, ever!

I continue to enjoy my early spring walks. Some of the mossy green colors are amazing and there’s always something lovely at the bog:

Happy Easter/Passover/Ramadan to those who are celebrating! Happy spring to those of us in the northern hemishere!

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

April 11, 2022: Two tops near completion!

Greetings dear readers! Two tops are nearing the finish line! I have the borders on Maple Leaf Rag! But I’m still deciding about the corners. This is a big quilt – about 91 inches square – so it doesn’t fit on the design wall and I don’t have a floor space big enough to spread it out so this is the best I can do for now to show it to you:

Here’s a closer view of one ”empty” corner:

Filling that corner with custom quilting is an option, but there’s a part of me that wants applique there. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ”falling leaves” idea so played some more and tried a different maple leaf shape arranged like this:

Here it is from a distance with the red leaf switched to a gold one (and, of course, if I use this I would embroider veins on the leaves):

And from further back:

I think it works, but I’d love to hear from you! All your comments so far are much appreciated!

The Inner Reaches of Outer Space blocks and rows are all sewn together!!

160 Y seams were required! They were not difficult, but very time consuming, requiring a lot of pinning and making sure not to sew into the seam allowances. It got a bit boring after a while and as the rows were sewn together, it got somewhat unwieldy managing the whole thing. Now I’m in the process of taking the foundation papers off:

I’ve made a decision about the top and bottom edges – I’m appliqueing them to strips of fabric. If I left the top pieces jagged, they’d flop when the quilt hangs. At first I thought I’d use a solid black fabric, but I realized I have quite a bit of this fabric that I used to make many of the black blocks:

I put a strip up:

And I really like how this looks far better than plain black! Problem solved! I’m going to use it on the bottom edge too, I think.

I’m enjoying all the signs of spring as I walk through the neighborhood. Crocuses are up:

Forsythia is out:

Trees are budding and I’m still seeing occasional amazing fungi!:

As we approach Earth Day, I’m hoping all of us prioritize treasuring and caring for our beautiful home!

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

April 6, 2022: Vacation Wrap-Up (Part 3)

Greetings dear readers! Spring is slowly arriving here in northern New England. I saw some tadpoles in the pond this week and some buds on the bushes and trees. I enjoy watching flora and fauna respond to the change of seasons and am grateful for the time and opportunity to observe. For this post, though, I’m looking back at the last few days of our vacation.
After our lovely time on Sanibel Island, we drove to the Atlantic side of Florida for 2 days in Vero Beach. We stayed at the Carribean Court Hotel:

Within walking distance of a beautiful beach:

Unlike in Sanibel, the only birds we saw were gulls😊:

We mostly walked and enjoyed relaxing and some good food, but we did go to a high-end arts and crafts fair full of beautiful things – but NO textiles! Not even weaving! Not sure why the exclusion, but it was a bit disconcerting.

Next up was the train ride back to Lorton, VA, right outside Washinton, DC. We decided that we would only ever consider using the auto-train again if we were staying in Florida several weeks; otherwise, better to fly and rent a car. We spent a day and a half in Georgetown, admiring the architecture of the old townhouses, and enjoying gorgeous spring weather and flowers blooming way earlier than here at home!!!

We found a fabulous used book store to browse in, I was treated to a wonderful birthday (73!!) dinner at a favorite Georgetown restaurant (La Chaumiere), and, of course, I had to spend some time at the Natonal Gallery!!😊 There was a special exhibit of 17th century Dutch paintings – a favorite genre of mine – so I had to see it.

I love the scenes, details, and landscapes of these works of art:

I especially like the depiction of sea life in this one. A closeup:

So many other great paintings! But I had to spend a bit if time with the impressionists too😊. Aren’t the pink and blue colors delicious in this Mary Cassatt masterpiece?! And the green boat and green on the hat!

Loved the colors in this Cassatt painting too:

A lovely getaway and now we’ve been home for almost 3 weeks. Spring takes its time here and I have to appreciate delicate beginnings:

I walked to the bog this week and saw this amazing green moss on a log, marked by shadows – talk about color!

And this area of the bog looked impressionistic to me🙂!

The Maple Leaf Rag top is all sewn together and I think I’ve made a decision about the corners. The Inner Reaches of Outer Space is almost all sewn together, too. Stay tuned for my next post!

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

March 31, 2022: Monthly Mini

Greetings dear readers! Alas, because we were away half the month, and because of other demands, I couldn’t find time to make a new mini for March so I’m sharing an older piece. Of course, like all of you, I have been thinking about Ukraine and the war, which is heartbreaking. I’ve seen Ukraine’s ”blue and gold” colors shown everywhere in support – even this building in Alexandria, VA on our vacation:

So I looked through my collection of doll quilts and found this one in blue and cheddar to share:

I made it in 2016 and used quite a few different blue and gold fabrics in it. It’s 15 X 18 inches.

I like how I alternated light and dark blues and am happy with the yellow centers:

You can see the hand quilting on the back:

It is heart wrenching to see and think about all the destruction and loss and the refugees fleeing and seeking safety. That this war is happening is painful and infuriating! Jinny Beyer has quilting friends in Ukraine and recently had 2 posts on her blog – jinnybeyer.com – with comments from them and photos of quilts they’ve made (go see and read!!). Here’s one by her friend Lena:

Amazing! Let’s all donate what we can to help and hope for an end to this madness soon!

Go to Wendy’s blog, The Constant Quilter (link on the right side) to see all the minis for this month.

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

March 27, 2022: A Visit to the Quilt Museum!

Greetings dear readers! I visited the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA last week. How lucky am I that it is only one hour from me?! I did not want to miss seeing Barb Vedder’s special exhibit – it closes in just under 2 weeks – and it was totally worth the trip!! The museum also has 3 other exhibits up and I had a delightful morning doing one of my favorite activities – looking at quilts! For today’s post I am taking a break from sharing my vacation photos and have chosen 2-3 quilts from each of those exhibits to share. Hopefully they will whet your appetite to go see the the exhibits before they close if you can – because there’s nothing better than seeing them in person! I’ll share more photos after the exhibits close.

I am so grateful to have become one of Barb’s quilting buddies through our blogs. Her quilts are beautiful and she is an inspiration. Her blog, Fun With Barb (and Mary) is well worth reading and the link is on the right.

I especially love Barb’s wonderful use of color and probably my favorite of her quilts is this one:

The pink and red together is so striking! She also often uses letters or words on her quilts to great effect. Her hand quilting and precise applique are beautiful!

This piece is so interesting and personally meaningful to her:

She makes gorgeous traditional quilts, but has been exploring modern styles and techniques too. Lovely color choices and ”big stitching” on this one:

The thought provoking traveling exhibit, For the Love of Gaia was at the museum – gorgeous, but sobering pieces:

The poster for the exhibit:

And one more quilt from Gaia:

The third exhibit featured birds:

And finally, the museum featured some quilts with trees:

This piece is amazing – as is all of Ruth McDowell’s art – because it’s all pieced, no applique.

I love the trees on the border on this one. But look at the incredible tiny stitches of the hand quilting!!

Pam Weeks, the museum’s curator, does a fabulous job. She has a special interest in ”potholder” quilts – each block individually bound before being sewn together – and has a new book out on the topic, which I bought and look forward to reading:

The pictures and overall quality of the physical book are marvelous. I’m sure the content will be excellent. Who knows – maybe I’ll be inspired to make a potholder quilt (like my friend Wendy Reed, who specializes in these!😊) after reading this!!

Watch for more beautiful photos from the museum in future posts.

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

March 24, 2022: Vacation Ramble, Part 2

Greetings dear readers! On day 6 of our ramble, we drove from Tarpon Springs to Sanibel Island. On the way, in Fort Myers we stopped for lunch and went to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates museum. One can learn about them, look into their homes, and the grounds are lovely!

I couldn’t resist this shot of quilts in one of the bedrooms:

Here are only a couple of the many amazing trees on the grounds; the roots on the first are incredible!

An Australian pine:

On Sanibel, we had the great good fortune to stay in a lovely condo with our friends Sooty and Bill:

We had a truly wonderful time and the weather was perfect. The first night there was a lovely sunset:

The island beaches are known for their shells – masses of therm!

I brought home a small bag of them, but have yet to clean and organize them. Our friends knew the island and were fabulous guides. Highlights were walks through the ”Ding Darling” Wildlife Refuge and a guided kayak tour through the mangroves. The birds were amazing and made me wish I had a better camera – sorry about the fuzziness on some of these. Lots of ibises, various types of herons, egrets, and more. We had a great view of an osprey bringing food to the nest, but I couldn’t get a good photo. Amazing pelicans, but, again, no good photo.

Some of the mangroves had oysters clinging to their roots:

We saw an alligator on our walk – NOT while we were in our kayaks! – at a safe distance and watched it suddenly surge forward and catch a snake in the water – pretty dramatic!

Later we learned that while we were away, an alligator had been sighted right in our condo’s driveway!

So glad I missed that!!

One more photo of the fascinating mangroves that I forgot to add above:

The vegetation in the mangrove forest was so different from my usual! Will share a few photos in the next post.

There was a pool for swimming, good food, walks on the beach, shell hunting and collecting, and games at night. And a fabulous 4 building book store on the island. Four lovely days with friends passed all too quickly. We then drove on to Vero Beach on the eastern coast for our last couple days in Florida before taking the train back to Virginia and finishing the trip with a couple days in DC. I’ll cover that in Part 3!

Meanwhile, back to that amazing book store. One entire building was filled with mysteries from around the world, another building was filled with American literature, the third with World literature, and the 4th with nonfiction, children’s, and everything else. I read about an author who divides the books he reads into the ”hard pile” and the ”lazy pile.” Al and I love that and now always talk about whether we are reading something in or buying a book for the hard or the easy pile. I bought 3 books from Gene’s Books, the one on the left for the easy pile and the 2 on the right – a German author – for the hard pile. I loved Erpenbeck’s ”Go Went Gone” so am taking a chance on the others. The ”Tiffany’ book is historical fiction which should be fun.

I also highly recommend this Erdrich book that my book group just discussed:

It is excellent in every way! Great story, great writing, and great characters.

We did not take any time on this trip to seek out fabric shops, so nothing new to report about there! Since returning home, I’ve been working on a small project I can’t share yet, but am getting ready to start sewing borders to MLR – will make a final decision about the border corners after that is done.

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

March 19, 2022: MLR border corners update; Vacation Ramble, Part 1

Greetings dear readers! I’m finally back from vacation. As you can see, I did not find any good time to post while away. However, before I get to that, I want to thank the many readers who responded to my request for opinions about whether to add applique to the corners of the borders on Maple Leaf Rag or leave it open for quilting designs. Turns out the ”vote” was almost even! I played with some ideas, but it was hard to reach the corner and I had to stand on a stool and stretch, so my mock-ups were a little shaky looking. I started to look at a crossed laurel, but stopped early, because – UGH!

I tried a swag – also UGH!

I widened the swag and added a bird – still not happy:

After the above, I realized that fitting a vine into that corner space wasn’t working. In my mind’s eye, I could see that a wreath wouldn’t work either. Then I thought, what about just a few falling leaves and berries?

I actually like this. My tendency is to want to add some applique and not go with quilting alone, though not 100% sure yet. I have narrowed it to these 2 options and any further thoughts are welcome!!

With Covid cases way down, Al and I felt comfortable going on a ”ramble” this month. It was wonderful to get away for 2 weeks. We put 1800 miles on the car and saved driving another 1600 miles by taking the Amtrak Auto Train both ways from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL and back. First stop was in Princeton, NJ where we love to browse in one of our favorite book stores, ”Labyrinth.” I picked up this excellent book and read it on the trip:

To quote one review, ” …a compelling page turner about how Dr. Michele Harper took a broken childhood and wove herself into a strong, honest, compassionate doctor.” She’s an African American ER physician and highlights stories of several of her patients and what she learned from them. I highly recommend this book!

Next stop was Alexandria, VA, close to the train station. It’s a nice place to walk and explore:

A good stopping point on the way to the train and easy access to DC as well. On the train we had a sleeping room with seats that turn into beds at night😊:

I had the top bunk – very tight quarters, but not too bad and I was able to sleep, which is hard to do if you ride ”coach.” Overall, it takes the train about 17 hours to get to Florida. First stop in Florida was Tarpon Springs, just north of Tampa. It’s known for sponge diving:

And also known for its Greek community and wonderful Greek restaurants and bakeries. We stayed at a historic ”1910 Inn”:

It was full of antiques from the period:

There are beautiful beaches and I spotted these beautiful birds:

I spotted this incredible compass design on one of the buildings!

We returned to the beach for this beautiful sunset:

Of course, the weather was wonderfully warm and I paid much attention to the radical change in flora, starting with these amazing palm tree trunks:

I have much more to share on flora and fauna in the next couple posts when I cover the rest of the trip – Sanibel Island, Vero Beach, Washington DC. I want to end today’s post with something quilt related. At a rest stop in Maryland, I saw this:

These are story quilts and were made collaboratively under the direction of Dr. Joan Gaither who is an art professor at Marilyn Institute College of Art.

Kudos to the state of Maryland! This is probably the only time I’ll ever see quilts displayed at a major highway rest stop!!!😊

Part 2 of the vacation is coming soon! Right now am catching up on laundry, shopping, and other tasks that pile up when one is away.

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

2/28/22: Addendum to earlier post and a question

I forgot to add at the end of my post earlier today: Go to ”The Constant Quilter”, our host Wendy Reed’s blog, to find links to all the Monthly Mini participants’ posts to see the quilts! Thank you Wendy!

But now that I have you here I have a question. After posting this morning, I took IROS off the design wall, numbering all the blocks and clipping together in rows:

And I put Maple Leaf Rag back up. The design wall is too small to get the whole thing up, but at least I arranged it so I could see the upper 2 corners with some pieces of the border background fabric pinned in.

You can see from the mock-up in the left corner that I’m going to add a narrow light green border between the center and the main border. But the major question is what to do about the 4 triangular shaped corner spaces. Up until now, I had assumed I would add more applique, but not sure what. More straight branches?, a wreath with tendrils stretching out to the adjacent borders?, a swag? But today when I put this back up, for the first time it struck me that maybe there’s enough applique on the borders already and those spaces could best be used for quilting designs that incorporate branches and maple leaves. I plan to hire a top notch long armer to quilt this for me.

Dear readers, I would love to hear your thoughts about these corners – more applique or space for quilted vines and leaves?? Thanks! Gladi