Monday, July 22, 2019

What Was In The Bags?

So what was in the birthday bags?

A pasta maker,

and a collapsible pasta drying rack.

My son and I FaceTimed while I made the pasta dough, and ran it through the machine. I had had a pot of water boiling, so I was able to cook (and eat) some as soon as I made it.

Best. Birthday. Present. Ever.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

New England Quilt Museum

On my birthday weekend, with family far away and me by myself, I didn't want to stay home and do housework. The temperature was supposed to be in the high 90's and the humidity was supposed to be up there too.

I considered driving up to King Arthur Flour in Vermont, but I didn't really need more stuff in my kitchen, so I thought for a bit, and decided to drive to Lowell MA to the New England Quilt Museum.

 I saw some very beautiful quilts.

One show was full of quilts made from silk. 

There was another show devoted to baskets.

This quilt was made in this century, and it's just gorgeous.   

I met the curator, Pam Weeks and had a great talk with one of the librarians, Gail. Pam and I may be working on something together for the future, and it's very exciting, as all ideas are.

I had a great afternoon.

As for the weather... the temperature hit 101F and the humidity was oppressive. The sun was out all day with no clouds so it was brutal. The screen shot of my car's dashboard shows the temperature about 4:00 PM in the afternoon. Thank goodness for central A/C.

Saturday, July 20, 2019


I'm having a Bird-day real soon. So I made myself a bird, and you can make a bird like mine too, if you use my tutorial. Of course, you have to actually read it and follow the directions. Or you can come to New Hampshire and take a class with me. But you have to be prepared to leave your old ideas at home, because I don't use templates or traditional patterns. You don't need them.

 (start rant...), I won't draw you a pattern and send it to you, and I won't create templates and send them to you either, because YOU DON'T NEED THEM. Really; I'm not gonna make you a paper pieced pattern either. Read the previous sentence.
(end rant)

Yeah, you can see it's been a rough week. ANYWAY... 

I got a couple of birthday cards from two of my best friends, and they inspired me.

Gee, I wonder where they got the bird thing from?

Thank you Megan from Sydney Australia and Julie from Tennessee.

I found a box on my side porch two days ago when I went outside to get some fresh basil from the garden. Inside were these two gift bags. They are from my DS, DIL and DGD. (Dear Son, Daughter-In-Law and Dear GrandDaughter.) I immediately texted my son and asked if we could Face Time while I opened them. The reply was immediate:

"SURE! On your birthday! (which was then five or six days away.)" I rolled my eyes and sent this back: "Oh, thank you, I think."

I'm pretty sure I could hear my son laughing from here.


Friday, July 19, 2019

Oh, Look at That!

I tell you all to take a picture when you see something that strikes you.  This is the receiving dock at the manufacturing company where I work. The door is not usually left wide open, and especially not in February, when this was taken. It happened to be a gloriously warm(ish) day for February, so the door was open and the fresh air smelled wonderful. I don't remember what brought me to the warehouse that day, but I knew I had to take a picture. This picture is as much about the inside as the outside.

This photo was taken at the Currier Museum of Art, just off the main entry. I do not know why I am drawn to scenes where I can see through one thing into another. I am sure there must be some psychological reason, but I don't know and I don't care. I like these scenes, and when I see one, I take a picture.

This scene is on the West Side of Manchester where I used to live. I was on my morning walk when I looked over and saw this.

I thought they were interesting and I wanted you to see too.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Becky's Bird

This is Becky and the bird she made when she visited me in April.

This is a better view of Becky's bird.

Becky is a quilter who lives (ah, I can't remember. Out of town. Way out.) and contacted me because she couldn't take the class I taught at MQX in April. She said she'd be in Manchester and wondered if we could get together. That we did, and I brought her to my house to give her a private lesson in making my birds**.  We had a lot of fun. We sewed and we cooked and ate and did all kinds of great quilty stuff.

I love meeting my blog readers, so if you are ever in the great state of New Hampshire or even close by in Vermont or Mass, shoot me an email and we can try to get together.

** If you want to make one of my birds, you can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. It's an instant download, so you can get started right away. You can even use your scraps, although I should warn you, making birds is a lot like eating potato chips... you can't stop at just one!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Barns on the Brain

I am always on the lookout for neat looking barns as I drive around. Here are a few that I have photographed over the last few weeks.

 This isn't an old barn, but it's a very handsome one. It is in Hampton Falls NH.

This worn out, worn down barn is on Route 114 on the way to Quilted Threads.

As you can see this barn is connected to an old house that has seen better times. As I was driving out to Peterborough with my dad on Saturday we looked at a lot of barns. "You know," my dad said, "keeping an old barn in good shape costs a lot of money."

This Francestown barn is famous. It is featured in a lot of calendars about New Hamsphire. As you can see, this barn is decked out for the Fourth of July. During the holiday season, the owners hang wreaths to every door and window.

"You know, the cupolas on the top of the barns aren't for the looks, they're for ventilation," my dad told me.

We got ice cream at Ava Marie's Chocolates after I bought some Lemon, Lime and Basil infused olive oils at Monadnock Oil & Vinegar. I had "Mississippi Mud" ice cream, which sounded awful to me, so I had to as WHAT it was. Turns out it was coffee flavored ice cream with oreo cookies and chocolate chips. It was seriously awesome. My dad had Maple Walnut. He's 87. Can you tell we're related? Can you tell we have a good time when we're together?

Right behind us in the picture above, we could see this barn across the street.

This is the side of a bar in downtown Peterborough. I don't know why there are names written on the siding, but I thought it looked terrific.

One other thing. Notice the big blocks of granite that make up the foundation of this building and many of the other barns in New Hampshire. Julie was blown away when she saw them.

"Well, this IS the Granite State," my dad said, laughing.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Parade of Zebras, Beauty Shots

Sometimes there's nothing like a big fence to show off a quilt.

A porch railing can be good too.

The quilt will be flying across the country to the City of Angels later, and I'll get some beauty shots of it there too, but I am going to enjoy this one for a bit longer.

Incidentally, this is the Color Catcher that came out of the washing machine after I washed the Parade of Zebras quilt. Remember I ALWAYS wash all my fabric before I even bring it into the studio to use, so this is always a bit of a surprise. You can read more here.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Binding the Magic Carpet

I was so engrossed watching Dr Jeff on TV last night that I came to the end of the binding of the Parade of Zebras quilt before I even realized it. So that's done, and I'll take it out for some Beauty shots later.

That meant I had to sew the binding on the Magic Carpet quilt, but when I went into the studio this morning before the Men's final at Wimbledon, I realized I had not even made it! So that's what I did.

Now that is sewn on and I can do the hand sewing all around it.

By the way, if you want to know all the details of how and why I sew my bindings to my quilts, you can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. It's an instant download, so you can get started right away.

Saturday, July 13, 2019


Sewing the binding on the Parade of Zebras tells me that the Golden Zebras needs a small border as well. I don't want to add something of a different color, but I wanted to use what I had in my stash. I found these two fabrics - on the right that are the best candidates.

I believe that a border either contains your design or allows it to flow outward. This light would allow the design to flow, but I'm not sure that is what this quilt needs. There's a lot going on in this quilt.

This fabric contains the design and although the markings are more suggestive of a giraffe than a zebra, I like it.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Chasing the Moon

I've been hand sewing the binding on the Parade of Zebras quilt. I told you I'd be doing it while I watched television. I expected to be doing it while I watched the tennis at Wimbledon, but instead I've been glued to the TV for the last few nights watching the PBS American Experience production of "Chasing The Moon."

July 20 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing, and I watched every bit of it while it happened. In fact, I watched from the very beginning, with Alan Shepard in 1961. My family watched all of it, and we were watching late at night on July 20 1969 when they landed on the moon. I'll never forget it.

I was able to get one long side of the quilt done last night, and now I am halfway through. My DIL loves the quilt, so it will be flying to California to live when it is finished.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Oh Color!

I love knowing stuff. I have an insatiable curiosity about all kinds of things, and color is right up at the top of the list. I remember listening (over 30 years ago,) to the then technical expert at Winsor & Newton in the US tell me about the Cochineal Beetle and its story of RED!

No, I haven't read Kassia St Clair's book The Secret Lives of Color, but I will.

I HAVE, however, read Victoria Finlay's Color, A Natural History of the Palette, which is pretty definitive, and her The Brilliant History of Color in Art (This one was written for teenagers and the Getty Center and it's got lots of pictures.)

Finlay wrote a fascinating book about Jewels too, which led me to give my diamond ring to my son for when he found "The One," because no jewel is blood-free (and they're getting to the point where experts can't tell the "real" gems from the man-made.)

Philip Ball's Bright Earth talks about "the invention" of color and its use through the ages. It's rather dense reading and it helps if you know your Art History, but I do, so...

After hearing about the Cochineal Beetle (it's not a synthetic and to this day if you want RED lipstick, you are getting ground up Cochineal Beetles. Hey, it's natural and organic!!), I had to read A Perfect Red.

I've also read MAUVE, and The Rarest Blue.

PINK, The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color is on its way to my house. (This should surprise no one.)

Black, Green, Blue and Yellow, each my Michael Pastoureau are on my waiting list. (Actually Yellow will be released in November 2019).

I read these because I love to paint and I like knowing how my paints work and where they came from. Most of these are pretty in-depth, but there's a lot more to color than you think.

I should warn you, however, knowing ABOUT color may not improve how you WORK with it. Generally, color sense is inborn, and can't be taught. I remember once at a quilt show I was at a vendor booth and I was choosing fabric to buy. The lady behind the counter said to me, "You don't have any trouble with color, do you?"


Then, there are these:

 The great Mac Daddy of them all, The Interaction of Color by Josef Albers and this little one, Colors, the Story of Dyes and Pigments. I used the little one a lot when I was planning my Nine x Nine quilt.

When Julie and I were at the MFA in Boston five years ago, I bought this:

which is by no means scientific or definitive.

While I almost never wear any color like this one (Amberglow), I am pretty sure none of my friends would disagree with at least TWO of the attributes at the top of the page. Different and Daring definitely defines me.

And yeah, when I go over the top, I keep going.

As you can tell.

If you want to make free pieced letters, like the ones in my Nine x Nine quilt, you can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. It's an instant download, so you can get started right away.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Yellow Golden Zebras

I finished sewing the Golden Zebras quilt together. I really like it.

This isn't really a good picture of the color of the quilt. The quilt is YELLOW.

Unfortunately, that isn't really a good description. The quilt is golden yellow. What the heck does that mean?

(An aside: I find color names such as "maize" or  "mustard" or "jonquil" or "lemon chiffon"  and yes, even "golden yellow," to be completely and utterly useless. My description of a color includes it's hue (basic color) it's intensity (how bright or dull it is) and it's value (how light or dark it is.) My quilt is a light to medium value slightly warm yellow. A bright yellow is as bright as a yellow can be without being anything else, neither too cool (like a lemon) or too warm (getting closer to orange.) Because yellow is a very light color to begin with, as soon as it gets darker, it stops being yellow pretty quick, so it doesn't have much of a light/dark range as compared to other colors, or say, black.)

According to color theory, there are three primary hues (or colors), red, yellow and blue. From these all the other colors are made. (I am not talking about dyes or colors made from light.) Unfortunately that's not the way color pigments happen in the real world.

Pigments are either organic or synthetic. Organic means they come from the earth, either dirt or stone or from something that grows. Synthetic means they are developed from chemicals in laboratories. In artist paints, one of the basic yellows is Cadmium Yellow. Cadmium is a  warm yellow. Another is a Zinc Yellow, which is a colder yellow. A lemon is closer to a cool yellow than a warm one. And since chemicals are in demand for other purposes (Cadmium is used in jet aircraft and batteries), colors available for purchase depend on the market for them. The fashion industry determines what colors are produced in clothing in any given year, that also limits your selection of colors at any given time. So it isn't always easy to get a "perfect" version of any color fabric.

What has that got to do with the price of tea in China? (In other words, hey Lynne, get to the point.) This quilt has twenty-eight different yellow fabrics. Yes, I have a good stash, and yes my yellow was a bit depleted, but YOU go buy 28 yellows and see how YOU do.) I did not want to make a yellow quilt so homogeneous that it looked like one version of yellow. I wanted to introduce something of interest and some other colors, because that is what makes a quilt magical. (I wrote a tutorial about how to use your fabrics to do the "heavy lifting" in your quilts, and you can find it here.)

Some of them are blenderish yellows. Some have busy prints (the Kaffee fans, the zebras, the butterflies, the big begonia leaves, the newsprint cut-up, the "marbled paper" one, as well as the chintz knock-off and the one with colored dots.)

I already had 20-30 yellows I wanted to use in the quilt. I bought another 9 more. My friend Gail sent me a huge box of fabric and I used several from the yellows she sent. When I put them all together, I felt some were too orange, so I left them out. There was a pair I sewed together that just didn't fit in the final quilt. (You can see that in one of the pictures in yesterday's post; it's underneath the zebras.) Some of my fabrics were "cool" yellows and most were decidedly "warm." There are pinks, greens, blues, silver and grays, and the odd purple. Those bits of colors are distributed across different fabrics. Like everything, it's a balancing act. Generally, the success (or failure) of a quilt depends on fabric selection.

So although I've been showing you this quilt as it has progressed over the last several days, you really can't tell just how yellow the quilt is, because things look different in the camera and the lighting in my studio, although vastly improved, has nothing over sunlight.

To wit:

One very yellow quilt, sitting out in full sunlight. Once this quilt has been quilted, and a layer of white batting is behind the quilt top, this will look yellower still.

 Both of these outside pictures, by the way, show the quilt in the same orientation as you have seen it on my design wall as well as the picture at the top of this post.

I thought it was pretty in the studio, but as far as I am concerned, this is gorgeous, and I love it!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

It's Easy When You Know How.

I really had to restrain myself from adding at the bottom of yeserday's post "That was easy." I am aware that a lot of things are easy for me that are not easy for others, so I try not to show off.

But Rebecca asked how come this one went together so quickly when I agonized and wrestled with the Parade of Zebras last March.

The answer, Rebecca, was that all the struggles of last March taught me how to make this design work. I knew what I wanted to do, and how to do it. I had a plan.

I did not cut triangles at random and try to figure out how to use them afterwards. I cut my strips, matched the pairs and sewed the strip sets together. I cut only the triangles I needed to make design work. In other words, I designed the quilt one block at a time.

So having done all the "heavy lifting" before, this came together quickly.

Hope that answers your question, Rebecca.