Monday, January 23, 2012

Stars for Ruth and Alice

Hello, friends,
I'm over the flu but the other day I was walking in the snow, which hid an uneven place in the pavement. My lumbar spine didn't like it one bit. So I'm movin' kind of slow, but I *am* movin.'

I often seem to get more done when I detour a bit and complete one project while another one waits. That's what happened with Stars for Ruth and Alice. The half-square triangles for the wedding quilt are done and all I have to do is assemble, but...

Oscar gave me a layer cake of 1930s reproduction fabric for Christmas (how did he know?). Since it was from Keepsake, I don't know the maker. It was 35 squares and I added a few of my own to make a quilt from a pattern in Nicky and Pam Lintott's Layer Cake, Jelly Roll, and Charm Quilts, which I got from the library. They call it Charming Flowers, but mine is a tribute to Granny Ruth and her mother, my quilting forebears. Great Granny Alice died when I was about four months old, and I wish I had met her. But we lived on Long Island, Alice lived in Massachusetts, and I was the fifth child. Need I say more?

For the stars in this very simple quilt, I used some cherry fabric with a soft green for the background. They're not 30s fabric, but I wanted the eye to have a break from all the busy-ness.

This is going to have a one-inch inner border of Delft blue, or whatever passes for Delft blue when I go looking for it, and an outer border of a larger-scale print. I sort of wish the cherries were on a dark green rather than black, but no matter.

I enjoyed the process of putting it together. I drew it out on graph paper and figured out what the "runs" of plain squares were in the 16 rows. There are two rows of all plain squares, one run of 9, three runs of 8, and so forth. I had a pile of singletons, a pile of double star points, and I referred to my diagram to put each row together. It was a little like doing an acrostic. All together, 191 seams.

I did more fixing of mistakes on this than I used to do. My tolerance of mistakes is lower, and my tolerance of pauses to fix things is greater, I think because I have more overall confidence in the end product. I'm not winging it anymore.

I also did three more Civil War blocks, bringing me to the one-quarter milestone! Woo hoo!

More to come, but it's time for the day job.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Just a scrawl tonight to wish you all a healthy, prosperous 2012.  The photo was taken on New Year's Eve 1980. I was expecting the Countess, and her father and I spent the evening in our New York apartment. Across the courtyard, just at midnight, we heard a men's chorus sing "Auld Lang Syne." It remains one of my happiest New Year's Eve memories. My Champagne that night was just for toasting; I didn't drink it.

Back tomorrow, or at least soon, with more quilt progress, and the gang at Christine's kitchen will be cooking again so we'll have some new posts there.

Be well!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wed again?

Hi all,
Thank goodness I don't have a large and eager audience awaiting my posts... I'd hate to let them down. But it's the December rush and there's so much to do. I look at other blogs and people are positively cranking out work. That's just not happening here at Casa NinePatch.

On my sewing worktable, underneath the Christmas presents and a photo that needs to be scanned and my younger son's birthday presents and some receipts, are the pieces of the Civil War block I'm working on. Little Blue Basket. I expect to get back to it on Sunday. Between now and then are some busy work days and a family party and a visit from my Washington State sister. Woo hoo!

Here are a few Wednesday pix (and didn't I just post some Wednesday pix?).

This is the most wonderful warm mellow brick. I had to wait for a break in the foot traffic to get the photo:

Charlottesville, Va.        

A purple artichoke flower, I think, from the garden at Monticello, Charlottesville, Va.


Catch you on the flip side!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Burning the candle at both ends

This week was: working full time, with a new story to write about a local man who's donating bone marrow on Monday to pay forward the donation his baby son received five years ago, editing a friend's master's thesis, having a postponed Thanksgiving with my children except that my younger son isn't feeling well and how can you really enjoy anything when you know your child is down, trying to stay on top of the insurance paperwork so I don't forfeit the money in the FSA, and trying to stay on Brook's good side so she won't bite my ankle again... to top it off, I feel terrible!

My eyeballs feel like the fried marbles we made in junior high school. If you weren't around during the fried marble fad, you missed a high point in American culture and applied arts. 

But I have to finish the editing job. What makes it difficult is that I signed on to help with my friend's English (he is from Egypt) but the thing needed formatting and if there's one thing I can't stand it's wrestling with a Word doc that someone else has formatted. The school has picky requirements (I understand the need for them, but they're still picky) for fonts and format and my friend was extravagant in his use of fonts and formats and colors. And the English is a bear. And the subject is management.

So that awaits me tomorrow.

Did someone say quilts? Oh, this is a quilting blog? I thought this was my creative grumbling blog.

So, to cheer myself up and also to symbolically care for my under-the-weather son, here is a photo of him the night I gave him his Drunkard's Path, three years in the making.

Quilted by Janice Jamison

Because he was the last of my three to have his own bed-sized quilt, I told him he could choose any pattern he wanted. As I said the words I inwardly said, 'Do not choose a curved pattern.' He chose a curved pattern. But I'd promised. I sewed it by hand over the time when I met Oscar and got married and my parents moved six hours north, and other things happened that demanded attention. I often thought 'I should just get out the machine and learn how to do curves,' but at the time I had an old Sears console that would have required rearranging the whole house to set up and it seemed easier to just sew by hand, plus I always have better control by hand. I did add the borders by machine, which speeded up the process just when I was really eager to have it over with. I'm still not crazy about D.P. It looks like goat's legs to me. But I like the one I made for him.

I'm sure my eyes will feel better tomorrow. Oh wait, it IS tomorrow! Happy Saturday, all!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless wooden Wednesday

Sullivan County, N.Y., late 1970s  

North Carolina 2009        

North Carolina

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I Spy

All these years making quilts and I never knew till last summer about I Spy quilts! I really ought to get out more.

Obsessively Stitching, a blog I happened upon, has a tutorial for making an I Spy Quilt using the disappearing nine-patch method, which was also new to me. Now I see both everywhere. (Isn't that how it always goes when you learn a new word?)

I'd never made a quilt for Oscar's granddaughter because we weren't married till after she was born, but marriage elevated her to the quilty level of connectedness. It just took me a few years to do it.

I went through my stash to see what I had and found stuff for about 35 reasonable squares. Novelty fabric is not what makes my heart beat faster, but it's fun to see all the oddball patterns out there. I found some at my other LQS (not the one I complained about in an earlier post), Rock Paper Scissors. A week or so later, I found a vendor at Quilt Odyssey who specializes in novelty fabric and completed the 88 squares from that trip.

Here's what I came up with:

There's lots of fruit, which she loves, a mixer for her mother who loves to bake, a bicycle for her active father, planes for her pilot grandpa Oscar, and a fire engine in memory of her Pop-Pop, who died last year.

I took it to work the other day to show it off and if the reaction there was anything to go by, the quilt will be a hit. Here are three favorites:

I now have plenty of fabric to make more I Spy quilts, but ahead of them in the queue are the wedding quilt, the Civil War quilt, the Stars quilt-along, the Joseph's Coat, the donkey, and that other one I can't think of at the moment.

But if someone in the family should have a baby in the next few years, I am SET!

Friday, December 2, 2011


I thought when I was upstate over Thanksgiving that I wasn't getting much done, considering that all I had to do each day was cook dinner and do the Jumble with Mom. I had the whole day, or so it seemed, and all I got done in those 10 days was five Civil War blocks. I should have held my tongue. That was output!

So. I've been home since Saturday, and have done just about nothing. I cut out the next Civil War block, Louisiana. I was happy about it because of my good friend, the sportswriter from Slidell. (I got him a Louisiana cookbook once at a used-book sale. The first recipe I saw was for chipmunk. "Allow two per person.")

Well, I cut it all out and put the pieces in place on my worktable and looked at it every morning and evening this week, before and after work, and wondered why I hated it so much. Here it is:

I thought it was the cream color of the pinwheel, but somewhere along the line I decided it was the red, the puce, the bruise-color — whatever it is — which I just don't like. Authentic it may be, but I'm sure that were I living in the mid-19th century, I'd have said, "Not that!" when buying stuff for my next dress.

So here's what I did.

Why am I no happier? Now it's the middle color that bugs me.

There's just no pleasing some people!