Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What Weather!

What a weird weather day we had!

After high 40s yesterday, the snowflakes were flying this morning.  Very light, no accumulation.  Along about 11 a.m. the sun came out.  An hour later there was a clap of thunder, the wind started whipping big flakes horizontally, and about 1/4" stuck to the ground.  Within an hour the sun was back out and the snow melted.  Then another round of snow mid-afternoon, followed by melting.  I think we're done for the day.  Now we're expecting a hard freeze tonight.

I was going to take a picture of the daffodils in the snow, but it was gone before I could get out there.  I did cut a few more to bring inside before they all get frozen tonight.

Lots of hellibores (Lenton roses) blooming, but they usually survive a freeze.  I hope it doesn't affect the rhododendron buds.

I stayed in today, trying to make heads or tails of all I brought back from two weeks on the road.  Suitcase unloaded and put away, laundry done, new fabric washed (some ironed), project boxes back on the shelf, bills paid, checkbook balanced ... I even found time to cook dinner.

If  you are visiting today, note that I've added a button that will take you to Layers of Hope, a charity collecting quilts for the victims of the Washington state landslide.  I encourage you to do what you can to help.  I know from my experience taking quilts to Katrina victims and making quilts for the Nashville 2010 flood that direct contact is the best way to go, rather than through an agency.

Here's hoping we've all seen the last of winter.  In the meantime,

Keep Calm 
Quilt On

Monday, March 24, 2014

Greetings from Pigeon Forge

Two of Eight NYB Blocks
Whew, what a week it was! 

I was still recovering from Spring Training Camp in WV (where I worked on Summer Solstice, a Judy Neimeyer pattern) when DH and I made it to the hotel in Pigeon Forge Sunday evening, just as my roommates were arriving from the other direction.  He escorted four of us to dinner and I had the pleasure of his company for the night before he headed on home Monday morning.

Once I got settled into the "dorm" (two 2-bedroom suites across the hall from each other at the end of the corridor), we girls headed out for a day of shopping, eating, and getting oriented for the classes ahead. We made it to two quilt shops -- Quilting by Iva and Pappy's.  I was proud of my restraint at Iva's: not so much at Pappy's where I took advantage of a 20% off coupon.  (I'm sure you see where this is going! LOL)

Jan Krentz - 

Tuesday's class was with Jan Krentz -- Variable Hunter Star.  She has a different technique for making the blocks.  But an even more interesting approach to the final arrangement:  she lays out the triangles and star points separately and doesn't sew them together until she's happy with the final design.  I don't have a whole lot to show for the day except some pieces and parts.  This will take a large design wall and an extended period of time to complete, a multi-day retreat project, without a doubt.
The Beginnings of Hunter Star

Wednesday we made our way to The Red Barn and Cherry Pit in Sevierville.  Most of my purchases were related to a sample for an October class I am teaching.  After a delicious BBQ lunch we returned to the LeConte Center and shopped the vendors where I couldn't resist 10 half-yard cuts of delicious neutrals.

Dinner Wednesday night included a lecture by Jan Krentz.  Such a delightful lady, great teacher, inspiring designer.  (Can't say much for the food, though)

Smith Mountain Morning
Thursdays' class was Smith Mountain Morning with Bonnie Hunter.  Her classes are always a lot of fun -- classic rock going in the background.  I have three blocks to show for the day.

Thursday night I had a class with Bonnie Goolsby on Jack's Chain.  I learned two things:  how to make just one nine patch with two fabrics (it took me a few minutes to catch on to that one) and that I don't want to put my quilt together the way she does.  This is what I accomplished in the short class.  I think this will definitely be a combination of piecing and hand assembly.
Jack's Chain
Friday was another day off and we spent the day in Gatlinburg on the Artisan's Loop.  Mountain Stitches by Susan did my budget in.  Ice cream for lunch, followed by another shop, Zoe's, across the road.  Then pottery, then a winery, then dinner.

Saturday found me in a border design class with Marsha McCloskey (I had said in an earlier post it would be with Karen K Buckley).  In the morning she explained her process for drafting elements and showed us ways to use them.  Students in the class offered their suggestion for each other's quilts.

This is the quilt I took.  Once someone suggested that I turn it on point, I came away with a completely different plan.  I think it will be super and can't wait to get back to this ancient project.

Home Sunday, laundry done, winding down.  Trying to figure out how I will use 44 yards of new fabric.

Linking up with Judy at Patchwork Times for Design Wall Monday.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Back to Normal and Stash Report

Two weeks on the road.  Five classes and a lecture.  I'm fried.

But the last load of laundry is in the dryer, dinner is in the oven, and wine is in the glass.  Could it get any better?

Well, yes, if I hadn't tipped the scale on the stash report.

In this Week:            44.0 yards
In year to Date:      103.75 yards
Out this Week:          0.0 yards
Out Year to Date:   62.0 yards
Net Used 2014:       -41.75 yards

One large purchase was a cream batik as background for an upcoming project.  Another yardage purchase was background for a class sample I need to make before October, and I added a Jelly Roll and several Moda Bella Solid fat quarters to go-with.  One multi-yard purchase is for a stacked repeat, or at least as a demo project for an upcoming lecture and class.  The rest?  I have no clue how they ended up in my bag!  I must have an evil twin!

I have not mastered uploading photos to the tablet -- lost a bunch in the cloud yesterday -- so don't have any photos to show right now.  Tomorrow I'll show the progress from all my classes on my design wall.  Please come back to visit.

In the meantime, I'm linking up with Judy at Patchwork Times.  Take a look at how others are doing.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Training Camp and Stash Report

Peg Bingham, known both for her Celtic designs and hosting The Quilt Camp in October, is trying something new with Spring Training Camp.  Fortunately the predicted bad weather on Wednesday night left only a dusting.  (Nevertheless, DH and I opted to come in early as the area of WV we were coming from was due to get a pretty hard hit of snow and ice.)

I am taking a Summer Solstice class.  This is my first Judy Niemeyer pattern.  I'm glad several of my friends have done others so I had a general idea of what to expect.  All I have been able to complete in two days is eight double New York Beauty blocks.  Still struggling with what fabric to put where in the Lone Star center.  I'd put in a picture here, but working on this tablet without a mouse (didn't think I'd need it -- ha!) is giving me fits. Plus, I keep "losing" my pictures in the cloud.  I know, they're up there somewhere, just haven't had time to look for them.  LOL. So you'll just have to wait till next week. 

We'll be wrapping things up this morning.  All-in-all,  it's been a pleasant retreat.  The weather has warmed up, making walking around the lake a pleasure.  Main Man and I will be heading south after lunch, hoping to get out before rough weather moves back into NW WV.  Tomorrow he will deposit me at the hotel in Pigeon Forge where I'll hook up with seven quilting buddies for a week of classes, shopping, and giggles.

Now for my weekly stash report.

On the way to Cedar Lakes Conference Center, site of Spring Training Camp, I visited The Sewing Gallery in Princeton, WV, a pleasant little shop with a small but delicious fabric inventory.  There I acquired these linen-look gold, cream, and blue to use in Quilt of Valor blocks for Kevin the Quilter's block drive.

I also visited A Quilt Nook in Ripley, WV, another small shop with a very congenial staff.  I couldn't resist these beautiful red, red/black, and blue/black Batiks.  They might make an appearance in my Summer Solstice.

And, finally, I received a fat quarter in my goodie bag on arriving at Spring Training Camp.

In this Week:            8.0 yards
In year to Date:      59.75 yards
Out this Week:          0.0 yards
Out Year to Date:   62.0 yards
Net Used 2014:       2.25 yards

I'll continue to post from Pigeon Forge next week.  So stay tuned for all the fun and frivolity of this annual event.

I'd hook up with Judy at Patchwork Times, but I've not been able to get to her site all week.  Anybody else having that problem?  Could be the WiFi here at camp that's not cooperating.

Monday, March 10, 2014

From the Hawk's Nest

In my last post I commented on the plethora of pattern at The Greenbrier Resort.  This was our room.  See what I mean?

Garden Room at The Greenbrier
On Sunday we took the Bunker Tour.  Fascinating.  Begun during the Eisenhower administration, it was designed to house Congress in case of a nuclear disaster.  It remained a total secret from 1962 to 1992 when the Washington Post published a story based on a disgruntled government employee's account that could not be denied.  It's public fa├žade is that of an exhibit hall, albeit protected by walls of concrete and thick steel doors.

Sunday was the last day for ice skating on the outdoor rink.  Seemed odd to see this father and daughter gliding around in 50-degree weather.

Father and Daughter at Greenbrier Skating Rink
We've moved on to our second destination -- Hawks Nest State Park.  It was a winding drive down to the Gauley New River and a steep climb back up to the bluff.  A small park, but I am glad we chose this one.  The views from the bluff are spectacular.  Had we been here in season, we could have taken the tram to the canyon floor and taken a jet boat up river to the famous New River Bridge.

My husband is such a dear; he drove me miles off track this morning to a quilt shop, only to find it no longer at that location.  Don't you hate when that happens?  I should have called first.  We plan to visit another one tomorrow on our trek south but since I have three addresses for this one, I will definitely call first!

Tomorrow's adventure will take us back to the small coal town of Bramwell, WV, once the wealthiest town in the US and the birthplace of my father-in-law.  We'll have  coffee and dessert with the distant cousin to whom I returned a family crazy quilt in October.

We had planned to stay here three nights, but the weather is due to change drastically on Wednesday and we thought it better to relocate closer to my Thursday destination so we'll be off to Ripley early Wednesday morning.

So far this has been a very restful vacation, especially for my husband.  He needed this trip more than I do.  Just sorry the weather is causing a little stress.  If we can get to Peg Bingham's Spring Training Camp safely, we'll be in great shape for the rest of the week.  In the meantime I'll just
Keep Calm
Carry On

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday on the Road

Greetings from The Greenbrier in West Virginia.  DH and I had a lovely drive up yesterday.  This place is almost as big as Opryland Hotel!  The plethora of patterns on the walls, floors, beds,  and windows is enough to set a sane person over the edge.

Used my free $20 in the casino and parlayed that into $12.50 in my pocket.  As usual I should have quit while I was ahead, but what's the fun in that?

Did you know that there is a secret bunker here for the President to escape to in time of emergency?  We're going to take the tour this morning and then I can give you more detail tomorrow.

Even with temps near 60 yesterday there is still snow in shady patches.  We should be good for the week, though it will be cold at night.

All I managed to move from my stash last week was 5.5 yards for the back of Cathedral Stars.  I have the quilt with me to show Bonnie Hunter in class next week, then it will go in the TBQ (to be quilted) stack of heirlooms awaiting weddings or significant family events.

In this Week:           0.00 yards
In year to Date:      51.75 yards
Out this Week:        5.5 yards
Out Year to Date:  62.0 yards
Net Used 2014:     10.25 yards

Not too bad, BUT this week I will probably hit a few of my favorite shops in WV and next week is Pigeon Forge Mountain Quiltfest.  Most of the things on my shopping list are not fabric; however, I am looking for 6 yards of a cream batik for a specific project.  I'll try not to let too many other things jump into my cart .....

Linking up with Judy's crew at Patchwork Times.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Life's Little Pleasures

Not one to put my grandchildren in the spotlight very often, there is a post I want to share with you.  First, you need to know that my 3rd grandson, age 12, is autistic.  And he is brilliant.  And he is a joy.  And his little sister is his best and most patient friend.  And his parents are doing an amazing job raising him "normal."  And did I mention what a joy it is to know him?

I hope you will read what his mother wrote on her blog today (I have her permission).

I am linking up with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict because I think this simple act of kindness is definitely worth a Whoop Whoop today.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Midweek Madness

Here it is -- Wednesday -- and when I should have been putting the guest room back in order and cleaning for SIL's arrival, I spent much of yesterday working on this:

WIP - Kevin's Block

I was so inspired by the simple block that Kevin the Quilter is requesting for his Quilts of Valor block drive that I sat right down and tested the concept on some fabric I brought home from guild to make a comfort quilt.  My blocks finish smaller than his -- 8" vs. 12".  I also reduced the size of the inserted strip to 1" finished.  But I'm loving the look.  (I see I need to get a little more variation in the location of inserted strip, though.)  This is a perfect block for group projects where nobody's block comes out the same size.  Also, when using only two fabrics, it has the potential of being strip-pieced.  But I like the spontaneity of starting with a square (or, in Kevin's case, a rectangle) and popping that strip in wherever.

Thanks, Kevin, for the inspiration!  Pop on over to his blog to read about his QOV block drive and to get the specifics for his block.

When I wasn't in the sewing room I was taking pictures of these:

Papa Cardinal makes an appearance

At one point yesterday there were 20 goldfinches on the deck, but this little fella preferred to dine alone.


The red-bellied woodpecker gets a choice morsel from the feeder, but then sticks it in tree bark where he can peck it open.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Most of the ice has disappeared, but yesterday it was like jewels on the Japanese maple branches.  I love the color of the wood on this one.  It's leaves are a beautiful lemon-lime color.  We have a burgundy one in the back and it's bark is not nearly as interesting.

Japanese Maple

It's time to get serious about scrubbing bathrooms and making beds and putting away Christmas boxes and ....  Why do I let the guest room become a catch-all?  Oh, well, I'll just

Keep Calm
Carry On

Monday, March 3, 2014

Icy Monday

What a great day to stay inside!
Chili Fixin's

And make chili!  That's ground tenderloin thawing on the tray.  Gonna make some great-tastin' chili!

Woke up to a light coating of ice.  Fog had frozen on the underbrush on the upside of our hill.

Frozen Fog
On days like today, the many bird species consent to dine together.

Finches and Juncos Together

This young goldfinch couldn't quite figure out how to get to the feeder.  It's been perched there all morning.

Young goldfinch
The downey woodpecker has been too fast for me to catch at the feeder.  But I did get the nuthatch.

Nuthatch feeding upside down
Mama cardinal finally showed up.  They are territorial and we rarely have more than two families in our yard.  I love to watch them crack sunflower seeds and spit the shells out the sides of their beaks!

Mama cardinal
We also have a bluebird family, even though we don't really have bluebird habitat.  I count them a blessing every time I see them.

Yes, it's a great day to stay inside, watch the birds, cook some chili, and maybe get a little sewing done.

Catching Up, Getting Ahead

Last week was a catch-up-get-ahead kinda week.

Having returned from a 4-1/2 day retreat last Friday, I headed right back out again Saturday for the guild's 4th Saturday Sit and Sew.  I used the time to sew the rows of Celtic Solstice together and measure for borders.  But most of the time was spent visiting and lunching -- the best part of SnS!!

Last Sunday we spent the evening enjoying the Olympics Closing Ceremonies.  I can't get the patchwork designs out of my head.  In fact, I cut and pieced a whole quilt in my sleep last night!!  It was really sharp; I hope I can remember it!  Did you know that Hoffman Fabrics quickly put together a pattern -- When Bali Met Sochi?   Not quite exact, but captures the essence.

I really don't know where the week went.  Oh, wait, I DO remember where the week went.  I have been struggling with fabric selection for two upcoming classes.  I spent two days, going through many iterations for Jan Krentz's Variable Hunter Star and finally, finally settled on Japanese taupes with light yellow and blue star points.  I know, it sounds weird.  And it may be.  Definitely subtle.  I went ahead and cut my strips before I changed my mind!

Now on to Summer Solstice.  Remember this mess?

I have settled on this completely new color palette of red/white/blue.  I just need to decide what fabric will go where.  I cut chunks and strips yesterday.  The black and red in front is a special fabric that I purchased on the 2007 New England/Canada quilt cruise.  You might notice in the closeup the letters CQA-ACC plus the number 25.  It was a special-edition batik produced for the Canadian Quilters Association 25th anniversary shop hop.  I bought all that was left on the bolt.  Hoping to use it for the border; we'll see .....

Summer Solstice fabrics

This week will be devoted to cleaning house -- long overdue.  And gathering all I will need for two weeks of travel and quilt classes to come.

Linking up with Judy at Patchwork Times.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday Stash Report

Not much activity this week.  Last week I failed to report that my Secret Sister gave me four half-yard pieces of luscious tan and black fabric with antique sewing implements on it.  But, technically, since it was still in my car last Sunday, it wasn't really IN my stash, right??

I did manage to get a back made for Starstruck at 4.0 yards.  So my net usage for the week was 2 yards.

In this Week:           2.00 yards
In year to Date:     51.75 yards
Out this Week:      4.00 yards
Out Year to Date:  56.5 yards
Net Used 2014:       4.75 yards

Not very exciting without pictures so I'll show you the recipient of the comfort quilt we made at retreat last week.  She'll be undergoing minor surgery on Tuesday and we hope that's all it is.

Sandy and Her Quilt

The temps are falling like a stone and we expect to be iced in by the morning.  So I intend to

Keep Warm
Quilt On

Linking up with Judy at Patchwork Times.