A Wedding in Vermont

Peter and I are on the road, driving home from Vermont. Our dear friends’ youngest was married and we couldn’t miss the big event. Now that Peter is retired, planning such a trip is not a big deal. Just get the cats to the boarding place and we’re off.

It’s a looong trip to Vermont and I decided that we’d have a long day of driving and spend a whole day in Washington DC. When we lived in central Pennsylvania, we went there often, but it’s been forever. There’s so much to do and see! We don’t often do selfies, but could not resist this one…

Washington at night is magical, with all the wonderful buildings and monuments lit up.

Our first museum stop the next day was the Renwick. It is my favorite since it is devoted to contemporary crafts. I have a few delightful pieces to share. Isn’t this a wonderful quilt made by Sabrina Gschwandtner?

Now take a closer look – what do you see? The quilt is made of 16 mm film! It is called Fibers and Civilization (1959).

An old favorite from the permanent collection is Portal Gate by Albert Paley. I did not realize this, but he was making jewelry when he entered the contest to design a gate! Getting that commission was certainly a life changer for him.

A visit to Washington would not be complete for me without checking out the First Ladies section of the The National Museum of American History. I won’t bore you too much, but this is astounding to me – here is Martha Washington’s silk taffeta gown from the early 1780’s! It is hand painted….

Mamie Eisenhower is the first First Lady that I remember. Look at her ball gown from 1957. Such a yummy red and weren’t her feet so small?

And last but not least, all the amazing flying machines at The Air and Space museum…

Midwest Road Trip

Last week, Peter and I were on a road trip. It was wonderful to be away – we have had one of those Summers when everything has been going wrong. Since his retirement, it seems like Peter has done nothing but repair things and read online guides and talk to repairmen, when he can’t fix something. Some months ago I signed up for the Midwestern Handi Quilter Event in Highland, Illinois, and when I asked if he would like to come along, I got a resounding “yes!”.

Our first stop was in Franklin Tennessee, which was #2 on my Where To Live Next List. It is a charming town set in lovely, rolling countryside, not far from Nashville. The horse farms and large estates (I looked at a house across the street from Reba McEntire’s farm!) are breath-taking. We had some yummy meals downtown and Peter toured the area on his bike while I window shopped. Next trip we will explore Nashville.

Handi Quilter makes my Sweet 16 quilting machine and I thought I’d like to go and see what I could learn about the machine and how to get better at free motion quilting.The Handi Quilter Event was sponsored by Mike’s Machine Shop and they did a nice job, and Mike is so knowledgeable about the machines. The classes were held in this Masonic Temple in Highland…..it’s quite a beauty!

The Event was 5 days long, but only the first two were relevant to me. I have a Sweet 16, which is called a “sit down, mid arm machine”. I do not use the HQ version of a stitch regulator, nor do I use a computer. She’s a plain vanilla machine and I’m delighted with her. Over the years I have taken machine quilting classes from “big deal quilters”. They show you how to do their quilting; the way they like to do it. Mary Beth Kraptil gave an overview, with many, many ideas for designs and how to accomplish them. After going over the basics of the machine and how to get the quilting started, she talked about a variety of quilt patterns, including “ruler work” and there was even a bit of time to try out her ideas and play with the rulers. And the mantra always is, no matter who teaches the classes, practise for 15 minutes every day!  She had samples galore, which are so helpful to see up close.

This idea for a practise piece was one of my favorites. She started with a printed fabric in the middle and then “finished” the motifs that were cut off. You can see that she added more floral and leaf shapes in the background and then fill, fill, filled!

Highland is about 45 minutes from St. Louis, so we decided to go to a Beer Week Event at the Anheuser Busch Biergarten. As you can see, it was a lovely evening… and check out the arch appearing in the distance!

It is so incredible!

The trip home was not as fun as the getting-there – isn’t that often the case? We were listening to a book on tape and I was secretly tracing quilting designs on my leg. I have so many ideas and some new tools and toys to play with!

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Upcoming Fun at Island Quilters!

I have been asked by my friend Beth to lead hexie make and take sessions at her Hilton Head Island store, Island Quilters next weekend. We will be doing English Paper Piecing; a technique where fabric is basted around a paper template. It’s quick and accurate and addictive. Her description made me laugh – Debbie will tell you about her favorite subject – hexagons! It’s true, I do love them, and I am looking forward to sharing this passion with other quilters. Island Quilters is under new ownership and I wrote about it here.

I have been making a lot of hexie units in preparation for the make and take. We’re hoping for a big turnout and I need to keep ahead of the students, like cooking shows and their swap outs. Each participant will get a little sample pack with EPP pieces and bits of fabrics and learn how to sew them. (Big thanks to Paper Pieces for sending us these packs!) Instead of just making random hexies, I do want to make something, so I chose this medallion pattern, which will take shape as the weekend progresses.

Medallion hexie pattern

There are so many ways to be creative with hexagons! You can play with the patterns of the fabric, like the swirling flower on the right. You can make fun shapes, like the (purple) frog’s foot. You can layer the different sizes. You can cut the hexie in half and use two fabrics on each hexagon. And stars and diamonds, oh my! All of this is just Beginning Hexie. Check out Pinterest and Google for a zillion ideas.

Hexie ideas

But the best fun is getting out your colored pencils and drawing a design to make…

Star hexie pattern

In case you are in the area, or know someone who will be, here’s the information:

Island Quilters store, located on Hilton Head island, January 27 and 28

The sessions will start at 10 AM and will be about 45 minutes long.

If you would like to reserve a time, call the store at 843.842.4500.

Fun Finds & News…

The other day I had an appointment in Flat Rock, NC and afterwards, drove to Hendersonville to my favorite antiques’ mall. Last time I was there, I whizzed through and didn’t find anything of interest, but this time, there were so many fun things to peruse. I thought I would share.

First up is this amazing lunch box. Not only did I love the charming motifs, but the handle was leather. The tag said it was from the 1960’s and though I am sure I did not see every lunchbox in that decade, I don’t remember any with a leather handle. (Anyone else?) How elegant. The patterns were different on both sides too… I believe I carried a red plaid lunch box that probably was my sister’s. I would have adored one like this.

1960's lunchbox

Keeping to that era, I found a cute sewing machine for the Junior Miss! I learned on my mother’s Singer Golden Touch & Sew, but I am sure I would have enjoyed using this one. I had never seen small and miniature sized sewing machines, until I taught some Japanese women to quilt when we lived in Shanghai. They all brought tiny machines – one was not electric and the wheel needed to be turned by hand.

Singer Junior Miss

And this little car made me think of one of my grandmothers. She had a (gigantic) Chrysler Imperial that was the peachy color of this tiny car! It looked so trendy parked under the car port of her Winter home in Florida. You did not want to drive with her though – she was about 5′ tall and looked through the steering wheel.

Tiny colorful car

This picture is of the (fabulous) top of a tea and coffee tin from Holland. I love the red and those of you who know me will understand why I wanted to buy it so much… I finally left it as it was quite big and I could not really find a use for it. {sigh}

Dutch tea & coffee tin

There were quite a few very nice quilts to look at. This is a yo-yo quilt, sewn together and lined for use on a bed. Quite a beauty and tons of work! For those who research and enjoy old fabric, this certainly is a treasure trove of a woman’s scraps. I photographed it for you, Kerry. Such a disappointment that you only made a table runner…

Antique yo-yo quilt

If you look carefully at this quilt, you will see that it is made of shirting fabric. It’s quite well used so it’s hard to see.When I was a docent at The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, we had a whole show of quilts like this one. Some of the quilters attended the show and were former Southern textile mills workers, who made shirts. At the end of the day, they would “dumpster dive” and grab all the fabric scraps to make quilts. This pattern is a log cabin.

Shirting quilt

And last but not least, I have been mulling over how to present our news in a clever way, and here it is!

Retirement cross stitch

My DH Peter retired in December and so this year will be a whole new experience for us! He has worked long and hard to “provid for me in the style to which I was accustomed” as my father requested that he do when he asked for my hand in marriage. Congratulations and thanks, dear one… let the adventure begin!

 

 

 

Gingerbread House Fun!

Finding a Christmas Tree by Julie Bauman

Finding a Christmas Tree by Julie Bauman

 

Year of the Rooster by Gail Oliver

Year of the Rooster by Gail Oliver

 

Poinsettiaville by Glenda Tant

Poinsettiaville by Glenda Tant

These fun gingerbread constructions are the prize winners in The National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn, located in Asheville, NC. The Inn is the perfect place to visit in December and was bustling with guests and those of us who came for dinner and to see the houses. Below is the grand prize winner! Beatris is from Ontario Canada and I have been wondering ever since, how she got her lovely creation to North Carolina!

Dream House by Beatriz Muller

Dream House by Beatriz Muller

Aren’t they great?

A Quilt Store Visit – Island Quilters

While we were on our vacation, the stars aligned and we were able to stop on the way home for the grand re-opening of Island Quilters in Hilton Head SC! Why was this so special, you may ask? Because the new owner is my friend Beth Hanlon-Ridder! You have seen her name on the blog before, because she has had a machine quilting business for some years and she has quilted many of my quilts. But now she is in the quilting business big time.

Beth and I met in 1993 in Singapore. Peter and I had been there for a few months when I got a telephone call from Beth, who had just moved and had many questions and concerns. (Our husbands worked for the same company.) She is a super organized person and had thought about what she might do in her spare time and had brought a lot of projects. Mostly she was into counted cross stitch, but she did have one quilt pattern. It was a runner with pieced trees on it, I remember, and not a beginning project, but we did get through it. I had been quilting for about three years, so I was an expert, and I was glad to assist her any time she had a questionThis is a long way of saying that Beth is knowledgeable and experienced and IQ will be a wonderful place to shop.

Beth is knowledgeable

Here is my favorite part of any quilt store – the batik section. There are many to choose from and I restrained myself. I did buy some background for a new Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt, but I did need that, I really did.  She carries lots of other fabrics too,including some tempting holiday prints, but you’ve seen pictures of the studio and know I don’t need another fat quarter.

WOnderful batik shelves

There are lots of samples in the store. Some are of quilt design ideas and others showcase her wonderful machine quilting – her big machine is lurking in the back, waiting to get to work. Peter and I were so glad to see she and Jim again (thanks to Jim for photographing us!) and are so pleased now that we all live in South Carolina.

Deb & Beth & Peter

If you are in Hilton Head, please make sure you stop by and tell Beth that Debbie sent you!

Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley!

Peter and I are big Harry Potter fans (honestly, isn’t everyone?) so we decided on this Florida trip to make sure to get to Universal Studios to see The Wizarding World. Turns out that Universal has two parks and there is a Harry area in each, so we had to decide where to go since we did not purchase a two park ticket. We polled the young wait staff at our Disney World hotel and they all recommended Diagon Alley as the best “experience” and we certainly enjoyed it! Here is the interior of the store where the Hogwarts kids buy their pets (familiars?). The cat was twitching her tail and looking annoyed.

Pet store

While drinking a butter beer, we enjoyed all the advertising on the walls of the buildings and

Diagon Alley ad

remembered all the hilarious  tricks and toys and magical gags that the Weasley twins came up with at school and then for their store. This is the wonderful store front for Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.

Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes

There is so much to look at in Diagon Alley! The (what do you call the people who come up with theme park designs?) theme park designers really outdid themselves. The feel and texture of it was very evocative of the books.

Diagon Alley

We did not run into any of the human characters from the book, but were properly intimidated by the clerk at Gringotts!

Gringott's clerk

And Peter very much enjoyed the (escape) ride through Gringott’s bank. I get sick with very little provocation, so I sat that one out.

I hope I haven’t spoiled it for you. There’s lots to see and do (particularly if you buy a wand) and who knows what fun is to be had in the other side?!? Has anyone been there?

 

A Tour of Christmas in Philadelphia

The Santa bits and I arrived safely in Pennsylvania for a long weekend and on Friday, after some stuffing and painting, we drove downtown and went on a seasonal tour of Philadelphia. I really like the city, but except for going in and out of the airport, I rarely get there these days. When my niece suggested we do this tour, I thought it was a great idea! We ate lunch at the amazing Reading Terminal Market. It was jammed with all of us eating and people shopping for wonderful food to take home and cook. It’s been around since 1892 and certainly is a great spot to indulge in any food craving.

Reading Terminal Market

The Center City Holiday Tour involved a lot of walking! I really don’t know the geography at all well; I just followed the guide around, gawking like the tourist I was! One of the first stops was the Wanamaker’s Christmas Show… And like any native, I call it that despite the fact that it’s been Macy’s for many years! When I was little, our annual Christmas trip to Philadelphia included the show at Wanamaker’s and the window displays at Lit Brothers! The guide had many interesting facts to tell us about John Wanamaker, the only thing I knew for sure about him was that he was a Quaker and the store has an amazing organ. There’s a brass eagle ( a very large one!) in the center of the store and people would say (before cell phones!) “Meet me at the eagle”.

Wanamaker's light show

We spent some time admiring and hearing all about Philadelphia City Hall. It has William Penn on the top and up until 1973, I think, no building could be taller than Billy’s hat! I found the clearest shot I could, but from any other angle the poor man is surrounded…

Philadelphia City Hall

The last show on the tour was at the Comcast building. Philadelphia has a 1% for art law, and Comcast built this amazing lobby. What you are looking at is called the Video Wall. Look carefully at the picture below and you can see the concierge desk and the entrances to the elevators. This was the beginning of the Christmas show.

Comcast lobby

Here is a short video of the Nutcracker! Isn’t he clarity astounding? The guide said that you can go in there practically any time of day and see something. When we arrived the wall was showing a silvery forest of trees.

Philadelphia is really a wonderful old city, full of history with lots going on!

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous!

We decided to spend our anniversary weekend in Gatlinburg Tennessee this year. As in our trip to Myrtle Beach, people made some interesting comments about it… And now I know why!!! It is a small town squeezed between mountains and it is absolutely jammed with tourist attractions. From garish airbrushed t-shirts to beautiful handmade crafts,( tucked in the middle of downtown Gatlinburg is Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, one of the premier places to take workshops with nationally known craftspeople), from the old time photo places and magnet stores, to the views of the Smokies, it is a contrast! Dollywood is a few miles away and it has lots more space to attract huge tourist attractions, Dollywood being only one of them.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the only free national park in the country and it was very busy. {It’s nice to know that some drag their kids away from the fudge shops and haunted houses to enjoy the natural beauty of the mountains!} We took several hikes and enjoyed them all. On Sunday it was raining and breezy when we got to a trailhead at the base of Clingman’s Dome. The view of the mountains looked like this – so gorgeous, isn’t it?

The Great Smoky Mountains

The forest was cool and dark and so green. The rain made the tiny rivulets bigger and they gurgled as they meandered along the trail. There were lots of mushrooms to discover. These great orange guys are very evident in all the green and brown of the forest floor.

Amanita muscaria?

Amanita muscaria?

I spent many Summers in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania going to camp and was excited to see these Indian pipes just emerging. As little girls we loved all the tiny plants in the woods behind our cabins and would build little villages for the newts around the Indian pipes and mushrooms.

Indian pipes

Indian pipes

I am not a mushroom person and have done my best to find out the names of the fungus we saw. I have also seen this ruffly white guy on Paris Mountain here in Greenville but cannot find any pictures that look like him. Any mycologists know the name?

White ruffled mushroom

White ruffled mushroom

Towards the beginning of the trail, I was looking left and right to see what I could see when a Junco flew in front of me, about ankle height and it really startled me. On the way back the same thing happened and I stopped and said to Peter, “There must be a nest here” and we both bent over. He found it by making whistling noises and we saw two little beaks opening for food. The nest was indeed around my ankles under the rocks and in the mosses and ferns beside the trail. She really needn’t have flown out because we never would have seen her.

Junco nest

Junco nest

By the end of our hike, the sky had cleared and the Smokies were pretty clear! We hiked the rest of the way up the trail to Clingman’s Dome which is the highest peak in Tennessee.

Great Smoky Mountains

And then we headed to Gatlinburg for a well deserved beer…