Archive for June, 2010

Can you believe this coming week will bring us the 4th of July!!? Mid summer all ready and time is moving much too fast. Make yourself comfortable with a nice cold summer drink and let’s return to a slower pace. I thought it might be timely to share a few of my red and white quilts with you.. a couple of vintage pieces and one of my older UFO’s that is now finished.

There is very little provenance on this first quilt…

A stranger came into my shop in 1995, holding onto this red and white pieced quilt. He claimed it had been made by his Grandmother, who had passed away. She had immigrated from Wales in the early 1900’s and moved to Rudolph, Wisconsin, where she lived out her adult life, married and raised a family. He said he had no real “connection” to the quilt and just wanted to sell it to someone who would appreciate it. He simply wanted the cash…well, two things caught my ear and eye…the quiltmaker came from Wales (my paternal roots) and it was red and white. We struck a deal and the quilt was mine. I would like to think the background history is true, but his promise to send me the full name of his Grandmother and more information about her was never kept. So, I cling to this small hint of the quilt’s origins and as often happens with antique quilts – the label states “Quiltmaker, unknown.”  I believe the red fabric is “Turkey red” and the one little odd piece which has lost its color may be one that is based on a failed attempt at duplicating the Turkey red using a synthetic dye process.. The quilt is handquilted and the block pattern is a version of Friendship Knot or Starry Crown (Brackman; Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns #4045, Pg. 500)

This second quilt is an example of redwork, which was popular at the turn of the 20th century up until the late 1920’s. The quilter could buy an endless number of embroidery patterns and transfer them onto muslin. All the stitching was done in red threads. (Blue work quilts can be found, though red was the most predominant. ) Again, not a lot of information is available. The quilt came from an eBay auction and was my husband’s Christmas gift to me. It does have the year on it – 1913 and lovely initials…perhaps a bride and groom? The eBay seller said she found it at an Estate Sale in Pennsylvania. It is interesting to see the various handquilting designs used…feathered wreath, hanging diamonds grid and clamshell.  I love the embroidered flag, Indian and there is even a log cabin!

A small pillow cover with  tambour stitching in red threads features a peacock – a popular design choice.

This stitching used a special crochet-like “needle” or hook,  creating a continuous chain stitch on the front of the piece. Check out Quilt History and scroll down midway for a close up of a red and white piece with birds.

Now, this redwork quilt is my own – a UFO dating to 1999. It was a BOM and designed by the late Laurene Sinema of The Quilted Apple in Phoenix, Arizona.

This is the last box of DMC Flower Threads that is left over from the embroidery. DMC discontinued this thread years ago! That sure does date me!

I had no trouble completing each block in a timely manner and the entire top was assembled with no hitches. But somehow it just got put aside for 10 years…last winter, when reality hit me that handquilting was probably not going to be part of any future completions, I decided to do a simple cross hatch grid using ivory Guterman silk thread in my machine. The binding was faithfully attached and about 6″ of that was stitched to the back of the quilt and the poor thing again suffered being ignored.  Enough! it called… I pulled it out yesterday and had the rest of the binding finished by last night. With the 4th of July coming up, this now 11 year old UFO just couldn’t languish anymore. It is done!  Now I also have an almost 15 year old UFO….it is beginning to get really boisterous in that storage box…

A few weeks ago, I shared with you about our Liberty Ladies trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum to tour the Winterthur Quilt Exhibit. At the time, I passed on purchasing the beautiful book that was available at the Museum Gift Shop. It wasn’t long before I began to regret that decision. My friend, Geri, to the rescue!! She had purchased the book that day only to remember on returning home that she all ready owned a copy. Soooo…she asked if I would be interested. I am so glad I took her up on the offer. It is a fabulous book, filled with wonderful and informative text about the entire quilt collection and the history of the quiltmakers.

If you follow along with me on a regular basis, you know reproduction fabrics are a great love of mine. It is always fun to see the original piece that inspired a current reproduction that becomes available.

No, this is not the bed I sleep in every night!! But we did see the actual ensemble on display at the Museum during our tour. A gorgeous red toile, it features George and Martha Washington…this is a close up of the actual textile as shown in the book.

And this is the reproduction by Barbara Brackman in the Remember the Ladies collection by Moda.

Simplified, yes, but the original feeling is still there – I used it in a strippy quilt a few years back.

I hope you have enjoyed this little glimpse of red and white and finally for the touch of blue…

Two of my favorite little blue bowls

Have a great summery week as you prepare to celebrate the 4th…Be safe, drive carefully and

Always take time to stitch.



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Come Dance With Me…

Welcome Dear Friend –  come dance with me amidst the herb garden…for we are at the Summer Solstice, June 21st – the longest day of the year.

Next to quilting…

…the love of gardening has a great place near my heart, particularly herbs. They sit so quietly among the showier parts of a garden, asking for little more than weekly watering, good drainage and a gentle touch when harvesting. Soft gray greens to dark shiny leaves give subtlety to the herb garden. Perhaps you grow herbs in a conveniently place pot near the kitchen door or by a sunny windowsill. Do you have a special little area or are you blessed with a more formal, classic herb arrangement, complete with a pebbled or crushed oyster shell strewn path. Whatever the size of the area, herbs provide a valuable addition to one’s life. They contribute to the cook’s kitchen or add to the crafter’s palette. What is potpourri without including your own dried ingredients? Who can resist  the textured sage leaves…

Or touching the soft, fuzzy leaf of lambs ears…

Come dance with me as we journey back to an earlier Summer Solstice…it was the Summer of 1989 and our family had traveled to a gathering in New England. Our trip brought us very near to Caprilands in Coventry, Connecticut. Caprilands is the long time home of herbalist, Adelma Grenier Simmons.  Along with my Mom, we were to attend one of Adelma’s famous lectures and luncheons. To be in the same room with this remarkable lady was an experience that will always be a day to treasure. On arrival, we were seated in the drying barn.  The day was incredibly hot and very humid. We were all dressed in the lightest summer clothing possible. Not Adelma…she appeared in her trademark cape, long dress with layers and that famous little quirky beanie perched on her fiery red hair. Her cheeks held rouge to match the hair! Being the great lady that she was, her age remained a mystery to all.  We estimated that she must have been in her 80’s. As she began to speak in a soft voice, the room hushed and all eyes were riveted on her sitting in a large wooden chair. I seem to recall it was heavily carved. She spoke slowly with frequent pauses…why rush? We had stepped back in time where a clock ticked quietly in the background and people did not take those hours for granted. She spoke of ancient herbalists, kings and queens, her association with the government during WW II when she grew large quantities of foxglove to provide digitalis, and the many gardeners she had met over the years. We learned some of the mystic behind the observation of the Summer Solstice.  In Latin, “Sol” (sun) and “stice” (to stand still.)  In our Northern Hemisphere, we celebrate the longest day and the shortest of nights. Going back to Pagan worship, the term “Honeymoon” derives from the mead that was made from fermented honey and used during June wedding ceremonies. Listening to her lecture which was more of a poem and expression of her obvious joy in living with herbs, we became mesmerized. At the end of the hour, she graciously led us into her home – a structure that dated to the early 1700’s. The front door was opened with ceremony and we stepped onto the hardwood floors which were covered in rose petals. How could we tread on that with our “outdoor” shoes…our feet should have been covered in soft satin slippers at most – bare at best.  The air was filled with the aroma of roses and we took our places at the tables that were ready for us. Covered in white tablecloths, each table held a centerpiece of herbs and simple flowers. China and silver graced each place along with a goblet of May wine. Tiny Johnny-Jump-Ups floated in each glass. We were presented with handmade mugwort wreaths to wear on our heads, which everyone did immediately to add to the mood and setting. Lunch was leisurely served in different courses. Appetizers, crackers with a light herbal spread, a tiny cup of soup, entre and finally a sweet dessert…all reflected how best  to make herbs part of a memorable meal.  Again, no rush, savor each moment and bless the gardener who nurtured each plant and the cook who knew how to best showcase each tiny leaf.  Adelma would walk around each table and stop to visit – always pointing out what a specific herb was and perhaps some of the history behind it. After the luncheon, everyone moved out to the large garden area. At this particular time, some of the herbal beds were undergoing restoration. Most of us were gardeners and could appreciate the before and after or what was yet to be. Over the years, Caprilands had apparently gone through some up and down transitions  under different supervisors, although Adelma was always in residence. Unfortunately, there had been rumors of ill prepared luncheons and neglected gardens. Such was not the case on our day of the Summer Solstice. Everyone enjoyed a most beautiful time. We strolled around the herb beds in which many of the plants were growing beyond their boundaries. As we brushed against the different leaves, fragrances rose in the heated air and almost made one dizzy with delight. Mints, lavenders, dozens of varieties of thyme, basil, lemon verbena, rosemary and sage all blended into a heady perfume. Herbs which I personally had only read about called  for closer inspection. Bees buzzed in the warm sunlight, with no intention of harm, only to be about their many rounds of inspecting each fragrant flower. Roses climbed and tumbled over old trellis and we all admired a large dovecote which held center stage in a round bed. Wandering among dozens of different specialty herbal sections – wedding herbs, Christmas herbs, herbs dedicated to Saints, cooking herbs, potpourri herbs, medicinal herbs – our minds and imaginations became full. We visited the little gift shop which was filled with all of Adelma’s books and booklets. I had no trouble choosing a handful and she added her herbal message and autograph to each one with great patience.

I remember so fondly, this special day every June 21st, even though it has now been 21 years. Any photos taken that day are buried in an unlabeled box somewhere in a back closet. No digital cameras then but the images and fragrances return  every time I work in my own herb garden. Sadly, Adelma has been gone since 1997. I finally found out she was born in 1903, making her 94 at the time of her passing.  Memories such as this become even more valued when you know there will never be a way to revisit that moment again. Only recently, did I discover that it seems Caprilands has closed to the public. The website is unresponsive. No more lectures or herbal luncheons…I would like to picture Adelma  walking among her quiet gardens on a warm, soft June evening. Perhaps there are fireflies following along her paths and tiny fairies hiding beneath the crinkly leaves of a Lady’s Mantle plant. I hope she knows how many gardeners she inspired with her talks and books. And I hope she dances at midnight in a bed of thyme at the Summer Solstice.

Thyme, sage and chervil

Wishing you sweet hours on this longest day…


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As much as I enjoy traveling around (and looking at the last 3 posts, we have logged some road time) there is also a simple pleasure in being at home and not really “needing” to go anywhere for a while.  There is now time to pull some weeds, finally get the long overdue mulch in place, and just stroll around the garden to enjoy what is in bloom.

The last of the columbine…

Peonies just beginning to put on their old fashioned show…

False indigo adding their deep purple blues to the choir…

And Lady’s Mantle touched with rain drops that glisten like little jewels…

I can also take time to finish up another Borealis block and lay out the batiks for the next one…that August time clock is ticking!

Perhaps enjoy a glass of sun tea and linger over the fragrance of an orange mint sprig from the rapidly growing herb garden…

While reading a few pages from a book lent by a friend…

And remembering the fun of last summer while painting my Adirondack chair that heavenly lavender…and wanting to continue adding more color to my surroundings…

A gallon of “Asparagus” – what will we be painting with this summery shade?? Stay tuned!

Wishing you some quiet moments in the week ahead – to listen to a loved one or your own heart speaking…

And always take time to stitch…


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Hope you are still with me on this journey – our direction now turns towards Milwaukee…our Liberty Ladies Quilt History Study Group boarded a favorite bus around 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. Some of us clutching cups of hot coffee, some with a little sweet roll and all of us fired up and ready to hit the big city. It is about a 3-4 hour ride, depending on traffic and the drive time was spent catching up with everyone’s news, families, what projects are being worked on and oh yes! Are we looking for anything in particular when we get to some Cedarburg quilt shops???

The first destination  is the Milwaukee Museum of Art.

This complex is located on the shores of Lake Michigan. The original building shows the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright on the architect, Eero Saarinen. It dates from 1957. What catches everyone’s eye is the newer (2001) addition.

The Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava features the Burke Brise Soleil and when fully extended has the wingspan of a Boeing 747. Set against the crystal clear blue sky of June 3rd, we imagined a huge white bird ready for flight or being on the prow of a ship. The louvered panels change angles and act as a sun screen. The Museum is home to a wide selection of artifacts and artwork ranging from a large collection of Wisconsin born, Georgia O’Keefe, to paintings by Monet and Lichenstein. Egyptian pieces share company with precious ivory inlaid chests from 16th Century Europe. We were privileged to view Raphael’s The Lady With A Veil, on loan from the Pitti Palace in Florence.

Interior - early morning with panels still closed

Glass artwork - Dale Chihuly

We were scheduled for a guided tour of the Quilts from the Winterthur Collection. The exhibit features 40 of the finest antique quilts from this noted group. Of course, no photos allowed but admiration and inspiration can be held in your heart and mind as you walk from quilt to quilt. These images are from notecards.

The starburst quilt is composed of over 6700 pieced diamonds. It was made for a marriage that never happened.  The fabrics are in beautiful condition and the colors are vibrant . Many are recognizable to fans of reproduction fabrics available today.

A fabulous red and green Baltimore Album quilt captured our attention with so much detail in each block from ruching to delicate embroidery and sentimental inkings. The famous whitework trapunto quilt by Mary Remington took center stage. The companion canopy coverings were as crisp and white as the day the entire set was completed and the bed quilt features a rare Coat of Arms. This lovely red and white applique quilt was made in 1830 and also has embroidered exotic birds.

Leaving the museum and having worked up quite an appetite (breakfast for some of us came as early as 4:30 or 5:00 a.m.) we headed to the beautiful town of Cedarburg for lunch. We settled in with freshly made crepes at The Creme and Crepe Cafe and decided which quilt shop to investigate first. The decision was made and off we went to nearby Material Matters (located in the Old Woolen Mill building). This is a fun shop filled with batiks and bright colors. We managed to find some goodies there but I think after seeing all the antique quilts earlier, most of us needed to satisfy our craving for reproduction fabrics…Ye Olde School House was next! Lots of samples and Civil War patterns, wools, flannels, and vintage look fabrics kept us happy but WAIT! We still had room on the bus for more reproduction pieces. Our personal bus driver, who happens to be the husband of one of our Liberty Ladies, is blessed with an incredible amount of patience…so we began our homeward bound journey by way of Menasha . Many of you have visited or at least know of Primitive Gatherings (owned by Lisa Bongean). What can you say about this shop that hasn’t been described all ready? Tons of samples, incredible use of fabric combinations and a selection of bolts to keep the most dedicated antique inspired quilter going for three lifetimes. If you have been following my blog for a while, you may recall my 65th Birthday quilt pieced with 1 1/2″ nine patch blocks. Kathy, who also made this same quilt, led me to another quilt on display that just may turn out to be my 70th Birthday quilt.

What do you think? More 1/2″ squares – like potato chips, just can’t get enough of these little pretties…this quilt measures 59 x 59 and is called Settlers Trail. Shirtings and repros – what’s not to love?

By now,  it was going on 8:30 p.m. and we needed to be on our way and stop for a quick bite to eat. So, reluctantly, we climbed onto the little bus and began the last leg of our day-long journey. Twilight descended, traffic lightened and our eyes grew droopy. My day had begun at 4:00 a.m. and we arrived back at our home close to midnight. My friend, Geri, headed to our guestroom with thoughts of reading before sleep – she says she lasted about 5 minutes…me too! Filled with images of beautiful antique quilts and good times, the day was so memorable. So here is to our Liberty Ladies – sharing that special bond that quilters have because…

We always take time to stitch!


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A much needed rain today, foggy and cool…so I thought it might be a good time to continue Adventures in Quiltland with Part 2.

After that first day of quilt shop hopping with Eulonda and my first visit, in many years, to a nearby riverboat casino (and probably the last for many years!) the rest of our little trip to Peoria was spent trying to stay cool and comfortable while the heat continued to climb. Our guys were pretty well drained after each skeet event (and they all were shooting 4 gauges + doubles) . The wives certainly had the better location – stay inside RV’s with the A/C running. I brought along a number of in progress pieces to keep me busy – all hand stitching or applique.

This first one will be the on point center medallion for my new quilt using that wonderful Canadian Cottage fabric by Robyn Pandolph. Although the balance of the Delectable Mountain blocks will eventually be machine pieced, I wanted to hand piece the center. That is why I took that refresher course in Hand Piecing 101 from my friend, Kathy. The aqua diamonds are pieced to the small floral background triangles, than the entire ring is appliqued onto the background and finally the center circle is appliqued to the piece.

I am concerned that the pale aqua does not provide enough contrast against the beautiful background, but being committed to this project and acquiring all the yardage, that is going to be the plan. The quilt will be soft and pastel which isn’t it a bad thing, after all. So the center being completed, it will be safely stored away until later this Fall when I hope to get started on the pieced blocks.

A couple of the appliqued quilt blocks for our Liberty Ladies Quilt History Study Group project were added to the DONE! pile also…

And the eagle that will be the large center focus of the quilt – he has finally landed…feathers a little ruffled…but for my first appliqued eagle, I think he turned out okay…

That is it for now – between gardening (when not raining!) and getting back to our son’s Borealis paper pieced blocks, the summer will fly by. I do hope you will return soon for another visit though. Our Liberty Ladies group spent the morning yesterday at the Milwaukee Art Museum taking a guided tour through the special Winterthur quilt exhibit. And there are 3 quilt shops in the Cedarburg-Menasha area that are recovering today from 14 ladies who arrived on a little Magic Bus ready to shop! So stay tuned for more Adventures in Quiltland…

And always take time to stitch…


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HI everyone – in my earlier post about 45 minutes ago, for whatever reason,  the title shows up as “Olympus Digital Camera” instead of the actual title of my journal entry – “Adventures in Quiltland – Part I” It has something to do with loading images through the Olympus and defaulting to the name of camera.  Would like to figure out why it does and how to avoid it.

I have not been blogging for very long – only a year and I treasure each reader and always hope to add new ones. Certainly the title of Olympus Digital Camera wouldn’t be too interesting for quilters, so I hope you will take time and scroll back through the recent Quilter Bloggers postings until you find that heading and then open it up to read the entire post. Admit that it is kind of a long posting, so hope you have a cool drink or coffee by your side. Thank you so much for visiting my blog.


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Down through the rolling hills of southern Wisconsin – through multiple construction zones we made our way to the annual 3-I Skeet Shoot in Peoria, Illinois. Mr. Outback shoots competitive skeet – good times for him & relaxing for both of us. I get to spend a day with Eulonda. We opened a quilt shop together in 1991 and have kept in touch over the years. She knows her way around the area and had 3 quilt shops lined up for us to visit – all in the Bloomington-Normal area. On the ride over, we started catching up with each others news and before long, we arrived at the first shop, whose name escapes me. We were both on a mission for something specific at the time but managed to keep our wallets closed as we left that location and headed across the street and around the block.

We found Sew Much More (a great little shop with very friendly staff) tucked into a little  mall and on first entering, I knew the reproduction fabric I was seeking would not be there. The shop is bright, very contemporary and loaded with many samples of tote bags, purses and machine embroidery software. This place is probably the neatest quilt shop I have ever visited. Everything in place, no clutter and every bolt of fabric lined up to perfection. We were just enjoying all the fun colors when both of us spotted someone who was walking around with a really cool purse draped casually over her shoulder. Just so happens, this friendly lady is one of the shop instructors and will be teaching a class on making this very bag. Seeing the pitiful look on my face when stating – but I live in Wisconsin…she very graciously led us to where the patterns were, what supplies we would need and offered some helpful tips. How is that for customer care!! Needless to say – the wallets popped open most agreeably and Eulonda and I left with fabric, pattern, Texture Magic and sweet little buttons to finish off our projects. At the start of this year, I mentioned that I would loosen up with my color range and become less conservative. To you it may be very quiet, but the choices I made are, for me, a leap ahead…

Lots of fun – I got to play with Texture Magic for the first time…and was introduced to the questionable joy of sewing with headliner (used to give the bag stability). Do you like the lining I chose?

It makes me happy and offers such a positive note to the whole thing…if I get down a little, just peering into the bag should brighten my day. All the fabrics are by Moda – Sweet Life Collection. I even learned about installing gussets (cussing at gussets – who ever invented them?)

After all that – we met up with Eulonda’s granddaughter at The Olive Garden – yum! Chicken gnocchi soup and salad to restore our quilting energy and then off again to find the next shop…The Treadle. Where to start about this place??? Not for the claustrophobic or neat freak! I have never been in a place like this before…alas, guess who forgot their camera (what kind of blogger am I?) and 2nd alas, I also forgot that there is a camera feature on my cell phone (that makes me a dumb blogger.) The aisles are so narrow you have to carry your bolt of fabric(s) pointing the long way ahead. If you see something you might be interested in, best to grab it right away as you will never remember where it was later.  Shelving goes all the way to the ceiling; bolts stacked upon each other on the floor, bolts halfway falling off the shelves, fat 1/4’s & remnants by the thousands – in every conceivable type container or box…it was Paradise. I bet the owner never needs to heat the place during the winter…with over 10,000 bolts of fabric, it is super insulated. Every sound is so muffled it is as though you have a thick pillow wrapped around your head…it was Paradise. Fabric, fabric, fabric – dating to the early ’90’s (many I remember ordering myself) and up to current Moda’s;  books, notions, rolls of lace and wired ribbon…and if you paid cash, you received 20% off.  Did I mention it was Paradise?? Oh for a bigger budget and yes, I did find the specific piece of fabric I needed – among other goodies. What an experience! Because we were totally drained after that visit – a little reward was in store on the way back to the Peoria Gun Club…one more stop…and Mr. Outback does like things with apple or raspberry filling…so justified…

The less said about this, the better…

That evening, after our dinner, friends invited me to join them in going to a different type of “Paradise” – A riverboat casino docked on the Illinois River nearby. Now, I don’t gamble, know nothing about how it is done these days and am really out of my element. But they tell me you can sit all night by the Penny Slots…sounds affordable to me…but why won’t the machine take my handful of pennies?? And what are the funny looking cards with cords attached  – looks like some kind of umbilical cord running from the person to the machine?? My friend, Wanda, quietly leans over to me and says – you need to put Paper Money in the little slot there – like $1.00 or even better, $20.00. Oh, this could be serious…I managed to find a few crumbled up dollar bills in my quilt shop depleted wallet and soon I am gambling with the best. Yeah, right..that Credit light? – 250 – wow! I won $250.00!! No, Wanda tells me, $2.50…Oh…I keep going, lights flashing, cha ching…the waitress asks me if I would like to order a drink…no thanks, I am on a roll here…look at all the funny symbols but why don’t they line up and make a match?? Everything is computerized – touch screens. Whatever happened to the lever you used to pull down? Payouts? – no fun clatter of multiple coins in the tray – a quiet little slip of paper you take and redeem at a far away money machine.  Two hours later and $13.00 down, my friends collect me and say it is time to leave – They won $70.00  and all I can think is that $13.00 would have bought another yard and a bit of  good fabric. Guess my concept of “Para-Dice” is slightly different. Oh well – I am sure my antics provided my friends with much merriment and they felt secure knowing their future gambling visits would not be threatened by a lucky New Kid On the Block.

The rest of our Peoria stay, I visited with our Ohio friends who were set up next to us and tried to stay cool and comfortable as the temperature soared to 90+ degrees…our 3 pooches & I stayed in the RV with the A/C running and I took my own advice and made time to do some stitching. There will be another post in the next day or so and I would like to share some of the handwork I took along.

Hope you will come back for a visit soon and

Always take time to stitch…


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