Sunday, February 23, 2014

DWM: a concert, and Lulu's Baskets

Saturday afternoon my husband I drove west-northwest about 95 miles to the town of Stoughton, Wisconsin.  My birthday gift to him was a pair of tickets to hear Tom Rush in concert at the Stoughton Opera House .

album cover from the early days
Tom Rush has been playing folk music for more than 50 years. We saw him in concert in Wayne, Maine, about 25 years ago.  He's aged, but so have we!   And he is still singing.  It was a wonderful evening.

We got to Stoughton mid-afternoon, in time for me to go into Saving Thyme .  It's a very cheerful quilt shop in a renovated (=gutted and rebuilt) early 20th century building right on the river.  Lots of bright, modern prints and batiks.  I meant to get an even dozen fat quarters but it turned out I only got 11, and five half-yards of black-and-white prints. 

I could call this "Olympic baskets," because that's what I watched as I pieced completed the flimsy. But Lulu's Baskets it is (see last week's DWM for the reason).  As I write this post (Sunday evening) I have the center half-quilted. 

I'm linking up with other quiltmakers for Design Wall Monday at Judy's Patchwork Times .


An evening with Gwen!

Gwen Marston was in Chicagoland this past week.  I did not find out until last Thursday, which was far too late to sign up for a workshop, but the Village Quilters invited guests to come to Gwen's lecture and trunk show on Tuesday.  I asked my Magpie friend Julie if she'd like to join me.  Yes! 

VQ is not my guild, but I have friends who are members.  (Lots of "strings attached":  librarians, P.E.O.s, and AAUWs among them.)

Julie and I had second row seats.  :)

Gwen is very droll.  She compared the applique designs of 19th century quilters with their sometimes free-form pieces to the precision of conteporary applique. She said, "Why make 20 blocks that are identical? You can just make one and look at it."

She reminded us that not all mid-19th century fabrics were butternut-and-brown. That was the era of poison green, acid yellow, and Prussian blue. Don't be afraid of color!  Use many varieties of a color -- if you run out of this red, then substitute that red.

She does not have an art background, she said, "But I lived in Kansas when I was young." (And when she rode horseback out into the country she learned to discern the many tones and shades of colors.) 

About her liberated piecing -- with chopped-off points, free-form cutting, sometimes sliced to fit -- "It's not that I like sloppy work. Just think about it. [My style] is not precise.  Picasso did not paint inside the lines," and "If you're worried about your points then you're not thinking about your quilt as a whole." 

Someone asked her about pressing seam allowances. "I press from the front. I let the seam allowances go the way they want to." 

37 Sketches is a volume showing small (9 x 12) quilts that are just that -- sketches for larger quilts.  I bought a copy and she autographed it. 

Here are some of the pictures from the evening.

One of the "sketches"

Sunday, February 16, 2014

DWM: batik baskets

Here is my work-in-progress.  I was inspired by a quilt that Pat Sloan brought to the program she gave for our guild last year.  I drew my own templates, which turned out to make 4x6 baskets. The blocks are 7.5x7.5 (unfinished) so, unbordered, this is 42 x 56.  I will add borders (right now, I'm thinking about piano keys that incorporate all the colors). 

The finished quilt will be raffled to support the Lulu Corkhill Williams Friendship Fund, a project of the Illinois State Chapter of P.E.O.  The Lulu fund provides grants for emergency assistance.  Eligible women and men are referred by local P.E.O. chapters.  (You can read about Lulu and her eponymous fund in this story by my good friend Fran Becque.)

See what other quiltmakers are working on at Judy's Patchwork Times .

Estate sale: sewing machines and quilts

I went to an estate sale Thursday afternoon after I'd completed some library errands. There were two sewing machines:  a Singer Touch and Sew from the 1970's and a treadle whose brand isn't clear from the worn decal. (Though its price is clear: $300!)  I passed on both of them.

There were also three quilts for sale, $40 each.  Two of them tempted me -- until I unfolded them and looked closely. 

The 1930's Dresden Plate variation was beautifully pieced and hand-quilted.  The worn/chewed spots dissuaded me. 

The Lone Star was also beautifully pieced--look at the color gradation!--and quilted. Do you see the shadowing at the "1 o'clock" point?  That was a big brown stain.  The quilt had evidently been stored on a wooden shelf or, more likely, in a wooden blanket chest, with no barrier between the wood and the quilt.

Then there was this colorful scrappy quilt with embroidery where the patches join. The back is a not-coordinated bedsheet.

BTW, none of the quilts was labeled. :(

Here's what I *did* buy!  It's an autograph book that belonged to Erma Gerlach in Kiel-Hassee, Germany, in "Kriegsjahr 1914-1915."  That's "war year" (subsequent entries are dated 1916).   Her friends had wonderful handwriting.  I can't make out much of it at all (my language is French), and my husband's h.s./college German is pretty rusty.  I will need to find a German-speaker (teacher? professor?) who can translate for me. 

And now I'd like to know the story of the people whose estate was sold.  Who made the quilts?  Was Erma Gerlach an ancestor or did they buy the autograph book at someone else's estate sale?

Beguiled by the Wild: the Art of Charley Harper

When Wanda wrote about Charley Harper in this blog post his name was unfamiliar to me. I was intrigued by the pictures she posted and by the Birch Fabrics line that features his work. 

Have you ever experienced this phenomenon?  You learn about something new (a word, or a person, or an event, or a thing) and very shortly thereafter you hear or see it again, and then again.  That's the way it was with Charley Harper.  In the Chicago Tribune's weekly roundup of museum exhibits there was a recommendation for "Beguiled by the Wild: the  Art of Charley Harper" at the Lake County Discovery Museum .  The notice said that that the exhibit would close February 16. 

Mind you, the exhibit opened in September, and I do read the Lake County Forest Preserve District quarterly news, so I must have seen the exhibit advertised.  But only because of Wanda's message did I realize I'd like to see Harper's work up close. 

Fortunately I had a meeting on Friday morning that took me in the direction of the museum, and I had the afternoon free.  Here are pictures of some of the pictures. I love the crisp graphics and the visual puns.  

For more about this wonderful mid-century artist:

Valentine's Day!


Water striders

Harper painted many ladybugs


Monday, February 10, 2014

DWM: potholders and pillowcases

The United Methodist Women will have their Valentine Party this coming Thursday. Rather than buying a box of paper Valentines to exchange, I made potholders.  19 of 'em!  They are 8-1/2" (finished) and have a layer of Insul-Brite and cotton batting to provide heat-resistance.  Stash used: 3-1/2 yards.

Wednesday's guild meeting was our annual charity sewing night.  About a dozen of us brought machines and fabric to make pillowcases. Joan and I had a system: she brought her Featherweight and sewed the straight seams. I brought my Pfaff and zig-zagged most of the seam finishes until Sue got going on her serger to finish seams for everyone. 

I brought fabric for 20 pillowcases. Joan and I finished 13 of them.

Back home I made the other 7, which I'll deliver at the guild board meeting this coming week.  The pillowcases used 20 yards from my stash.

On Friday I went to Joann's and to Hobby Lobby in search of Heat 'n' Bond Light by the yard.  Neither store has it. (They have Wonder Under. They have HNBL in rolls of 1"strips. I'll need to buy it online.)  Since I was there I took advantage of the weekly sale and of the HL clearance rack. 
But the use this week outnumbered the acquisition!

See what other quiltmakers are working on at Judy's Patchwork Times .

Sunday, February 9, 2014

TSB: we have a winner!

I thank everyone who left a comment for the Traveling Stash Box giveaway .  It was gratifying to read how each person's volunteer activities improve her community.  Of the commenters there were twelve who have blogs (blogging is a requirement to win). I asked my husband, "Pick a number between one and twelve."  "Eleven," he said.

The eleventh qualifying commenter is Amy in Kentucky, who blogs here:   She wrote, "I volunteer for an organization that picks up stray cats and spays/neuters them, including any other shots and medical care they need. Then the cats are released where they live, and their caretakers can continue to feed them, but the cats can no longer reproduce. Overall this decreases the number of outdoor "strays". I am very passionate about animals!"

I will ship the box o' goodies to Amy when she provides her mailing address.  

P.S. The Traveling Stash Boxes are everywhere. You can track them, and enter to win. Here is the master site.  Thanks, Katie!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Morning updates

I made eight bead blocks for the February Block Lotto.

Tomorrow's guild meeting (NLCQG ) will be our annual charity sewing night. We'll  make pillowcases for ConKerr .  I don't have many kid-novelty-print fabrics in 3/4 to 1 yard lengths, but these are kid-friendly (I think). This evening I will cut them into ready-to-sew pieces and find coordinating fabrics for the cuffs/trims.

 I think I have enough animal-print fabrics for DGD's high school graduation quilt.  Bonnie's Random Ohio Stars pattern, which I used for the Steelers quilt, keeps coming to mind as a good way to use these.
Here are the t-shirts for one of two quilts I have committed myself to make. They benefit the ZB Run Squad which coordinates 5K runs in our comunity.                                  

Monday, February 3, 2014

DWM: January summary

New books and more! 

At left: the books and other loot I shipped back from ALA Midwinter. (57 lbs.)  I try not to take so much but I can't resist.

My friends Pat and Ann and I spent the final afternoon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Had I known earlier that no-flash photography was allowed I would have taken a picture of their Vermeer (so small -- about 8x10).  The early Philadelphia and Shaker furniture was a slice of heaven for me.  There was just one quilt on display.

Shaker sewing table

Shaker spool boxes

Best tote bag!

Abingdon Press quilt fiction/mystery
Abingdon series up close

I thought I'd make it through the month without buying any fabric, but I didn't.

Thrift shop + novelty
It was a good thing that my conference schedule didn't allow me to go back to the Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet or I'd have bought more than the seven yards I did. (See photo in last week's DWM).   I returned from Philadelphia on Wednesday and picked up the Pfaff from its spa week (getting tuned up at Sew 'n' Save ). The sewing machine tech, Steve, also fixed the Singer foot pedal/power cord assembly.  While I was there I went over to the fabric side of the shop. I bought some (okay, 28)  clearance FQs for $1.25 each (even batik FQs were that price). And a yard of a clearance novelty print. And two FQs of animal prints for an upcoming project. And while I was at it, three FQs of light neutrals.   There is a thrift shop in the same chopping center as Sew 'n' Save. I could not resist a 4-yard piece of a 1980's VIP floral ($5.00).

So, yes, I did buy more than I used in January. (Added: 20-1/4. Used: 17-3/8.)

OTOH, while the Pfaff was in the shop I basted three quilts (Steelers Stars, I Spy, and a flimsy I made last year).  I quilted and bound both the Spy and the Stars -- the former on January 31 and the latter on February 2.

See what other quiltmakers are working on at Judy's Patchwork Times .

P.S. Google had a booth to try Google glass, so I did. IMO it's very distracting.