Monday, April 30, 2012

The unexpected quilt

It was a beautiful sunny Sunday, so my hubby and I decided to go for a drive.  We headed to the coast to visit a town that had a quilt shop for me and a Maritime Museum for him.

Unfortunately, the quilt shop was closed.  

My husband felt bad for me, but I jokingly  told him not to worry and that maybe I would find a "Maritime Quilt" in the museum. 

You know what's coming next, right?

I did find a quilt at the Maritime museum!

Mixed in among the exhibits of famous shipwrecks, Coast Guard history, and models of Clipper ships was this beautiful crazy quilt made by Alice Brown.  Alice was the daughter of a sea captain, and she and her mother occasionally sailed with Captain Brown on long sea journeys to the Orient. Alice worked on her quilt during  the voyage.  (The captain's quarters were set up for comfort, and included red plush upholstery and an upright piano!)

The quilt is made up of exotic fabrics she collected at ports of call.  Here is a detail of a pair of playful kitties:

The cats were embroidered, but some of the little scenes on the quilt were actually oil painted on fabric by Alice.
Alice Brown Brigham (1863 - 1956)

There were a few personal items belonging to Alice that were also on display.  One of which was this kimono:

According to the description, the kimono was was custom made in Japan from a Scottish shawl that Alice had been wearing aboard the ship.  Ever since I discovered that my great, great grandfather was a weaver back in Paisley, Scotland,  I get a little tingle up my spine whenever I see a vintage Scottish shawl.

Since this year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, there was a special exhibit about it.  We all know the story, but the exhibit included unexpected little tidbits, like this sheet music for the "Wreck of the Titanic":

I don't suppose even Celine Dion could turn that tune into a hit song.

Thank you for your well wishes for my shoulder.  It's been feeling a lot better and hopefully will allow me to get creative again soon.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Brrr! It's Old in here!

Things have been very slow around here craftwise.  I was having shoulder pain off and on for a while and this week it became a full blown problem.  I could no longer ignore it, so I went to see the doctor.

She did a quick exam and then told me the diagnosis.  As her lips formed the words, I was hoping she was not going to begin with "As we reach a certain age...".  (Oh, how I hate it when doctor's use those words!) 

Anyhow, she pursed her lips and began with "You have brrr..."

My mind was racing to think of what she might say.  "Brrrown hair"?  "Brrrilliant ideas"?  "Brrright eyes"?  But no, what followed was "You have bursitis."  There.  It was a complete sentence.

"How do you get bursitis"? I asked.

"It's an inflammation often caused by repetitive motion, like pitching a ball, lifting something over your head, even knitting."

Oh, man!  This just keeps getting better and better.  NOT!

Treatment prescribed was rest, heat, anti-inflammatories and then physical therapy.

I've been going a little stir crazy without being able to do any crafting.  Ironing, rotary cutting, even machine sewing involve shoulders.  And let's not even talk about knitting.  The knitting mistake I made still sits there, taunting me.  Even pulling it all out would be considered repetitive motion.

So for now, it seems reading about quilting is the best I can do to satisfy that creative urge.  Of course, shopping for fabric might also work.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Snow flurries in April?

Thinking ahead for a class for Christmas I made a Snowflurries quilt from a pattern by Deb Tucker. 
I had never made any kind of LeMoyne star block before, so I did not know what to expect with all those tiny points.  But Deb has a technique that allows you to strip piece the units in the block and then trim them with her Rapid Fire LeMoyne Star ruler.

I chose fabrics that were not Christmas prints, but which were Christmas colors.

I started by piecing pairs of strips, and laying them right sides together

Next, I cut units on the diagonal.

Then I trimmed off one corner triangle,

and sewed that same triangle back to the original unit, but in a different location.  This is where it goes:
And this is what the units looked like afterwards.  Notice that each pair is a mirror image, and look at those white star points!  Perfect.

Then the real magic began.  I took the Rapid Fire ruler, lined it up at the inner tip of the star, and trimmed the outer edge to the perfect size:

When you sew the units together, you have one quarter of the LeMoyne star completed:

The final trim comes after you sew all four quarters together and you end up with a really perfect block:

After making the first block to understand the sequence, I did all the rest with chain piecing.  I like how Deb made some stars with half green and half red backgrounds and came up with this neat overall design.

I can imagine this pattern done is shades of blue and white to really feel like snowflurries.
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Monday, April 23, 2012

This just in....

My quilter friend Rosemary at The Knitting Quilter kindly nominated my blog for a "Liebster" Award.   I'm not sure where or when this award began, but the story that goes with it is this:

The Liebster (German word meaning "favorite") award is given to recognize your favorite blogs with less than 200 followers so that they may be discovered by new readers.  When one recieves the award they are supposed to do the following:

     1.  Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to their blog.
     2.  Copy and paste the award to your blog.
     3.  Present the Liebster award to 5 other blogs that you think deserve recognition.
     4.  Let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
     5. Have faith that your nominees will continue to spread the love.

Okay, number 1 is easy.  Thanks very much, Rosemary!  I appreciate the thought, and am so happy to have you as a friend.

Number 2.  Also easy.  See "Leibster Blog" image above. Done.

Number 3.  Now it gets a little bit hard.  I read tons of blogs.  In my opinion, they all deserve an award.  I tried to come up with 5 blogs who could use some new readers, who blog fairly regularly, and who haven't already recieved a Leibster award.  So here  they are, in no particular order:

Carol at Quilt Fever.  I found Carol's blog when she and I were both making Kaleidoscope blocks, and have continued to enjoy her boundless creativity and style.

Susan at Starwood Quilter.  Susan has the been the lucky recipient of her grandmother's diaries and she shares excerpts from the diaries along with a quilt block that ties in.  Fascinating to read.

Jenny at Jenny's Doodling Needle  Jenny is a longarm quilter from Washington who shares pictures of her exquisite custom quilting.

Deanna at Wedding Dress Blue shares her progress as she makes beautiful scrappy quilts and is kind enough to post tutorials too.

JoAnne at The Patriotic Quilter is a military wife and a thoughtful quilter who makes (and finishes!) beautiful quilts.

Whew!  That was hard.  I hope I have introduced you to some new quilters who are generous enough to share their talents through their blogs.

Now I am off to complete step number 4!  Oh, and for step number 5...this isn't a chain letter so don't feel any obligation. 

-Auntie Em

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fabric BINGO

Tonya at Hillbilly Handiworks is hosting an online BINGO game which looks like fun, so I have decided to play along.  Each participant makes their own fabric Bingo card and submits a photo of it to Tonya to be entered in the game.

Here is mine:

Here is my list of words to go with my fabric:

B - Quilt  Scotties  Sailor Children Tulips

I - Ducks Bouquet Polkadot Stripe Basket

N - Daisy Circle FREE Puppy Stars

G - HumptyDumpty  Clover Goose Butterfly Rabbit

O - Clown  Flowergirl Bubbles Smilies Squares

It was fun to revisit my 30's repro fabrics and choose 25 squares to make up the card.  The whole thing was done in an afternoon.  For letters I used stickers that I had.

If you would like to play, you need to make up your Bingo card, post it on your blog and link to it on this post before April 22nd.  More information, including rules, prizes and a tutorial on making a fabric card can be found here.

Hope you decide to join in the game!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Machine Quilter's Exposition in Rhode Island this past weekend with some quilting friends.

It's hard to know where to begin to describe what an amazing experience it was to see such a display of wonderful machine quilting being done by today's quilters.  I must have said "Wow" about a hundred times.  One of the first quilts I saw had this quilted fish:
I just loved the way the quilting lines made the fish scales and fins look so realistic.  (And this was just one fish among many on the quilt!)

It was great the way the show was set up so that many of the quilts could be viewed both front and back.  By using different thread colors in the bobbin, the patterns on the backside were as interesting to see as the front.  This is a small detail from one quilt back:

I was wowed by some of the beautiful border treatments:

This beautiful border was accented with little crystals.  (I noticed a lot of the quilts had crystal embellishments.)

Here is another one with crystals:

I really loved  the quilting on the background around this hummingbird.  It really created movement.

There was a very interesting display of small quilts called "Neutral Fusion".  Machine quilters were given neutral fabrics to work with and specific size guidelines, but then it was up to the quilter to decide how to quilt it. 

The quilter of this one added little butterflies and bumblebees to her floral quilt:

The "Best of Show" quilt winner was a marvelous quilt called "America, Let it Shine" by Sherry Reynolds:

Pictures of this quilt just do not do it justice.  The quilting and the piecing were flawless.  Here is a closer look at one of the borders:

I found an interview with Sherry where she talks about the making of the quilt, and the symbolism behind it.  See it here.

Our group's little "15 minutes of fame" moment came when we were joined at our lunch table by Karen McTavish.   She had a quilt entered at the show and was also teaching.  She told us a story about her first art experience and had us all laughing. 
There were many vendors for longarm quilting machines at the show.  I stopped and watched this computerized one stitch by itself. 

One item I saw at the show that I had never seen before was flannel batik fabrics.  Aren't these cool?

All in all, a great field trip.  My friend Rosemary at The Knitting Quilter also posted her photos. 

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Learning the hard way

The evening hours can be a great time for crafting.  The house is quiet,  the kids are in bed, the daytime chores are done. Sometimes I get so caught up in a project that I just have to keep going a little longer to see how it's going to turn out.  Sometimes there is a deadline for completion so I keep on working past what should have been bedtime. 

However, I have learned the hard way that there are some things you should not do when you are tired.  One of those things is using a rotary cutter.  I think that if there were a study done about what time of day most rotary cutting accidents occur it would show that after 10:00 pm is the most common. (Not to worry, this is not a blog post about a rotary cutting accident).  Another common error with cutting late at night is just that you can cut pieces the wrong size because your brain is too tired to notice.

Now I have added another item to the list of things you should not do when your brain is tired. Knitting.  Even though I stop and check my work every few rows,  a major mistake managed to pass under my correction radar and by the time I saw it, hours of  additional work had been put into it.

Behold exhibit "A":

This is the front of the sweater I have been working on.  I took this photo a week or so ago, and even posted it on my blog, never seeing anything wrong with it.

But today, on closer inspection, I saw it.  A mistake in the cable. Do you see it?

How about now?

I checked with my knitting experts (Hello Mom and Joanne!) and they both agreed there was no miracle cure for correcting a bad cable.  Sure, you can go back and fix a knit or a purl stitch, but this is something different all together.

Now I have to tear out quite a bit of the front, including the perilous armhole shaping, and do it again.

The lesson here, my dear blog reading friends, is to put away that knitting when you are still alert, or at least re-check your stitches again in the morning. 


Auntie Em   (making mistakes so you don't have to)
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