Thursday, August 30, 2018

The end of Summer (and a great Dahlia quilt)

My kids are now back to school. When summer arrives, it always seems like I will not possibly manage 10 whole weeks with everybody under one roof. Then, 10 weeks blow past in the blink of an eye. I have done some work over the summer, but mostly in the early mornings while everyone slept.  Since we went on vacation the first 2 weeks they were off, it has been nearly 2 months of just doing things around home. The summer has been warm, which I do love. It lets us go to the beach more often. Maine beaches are only palatable when it is over 85. Two of my kiddos still love to wander around with me. The 16 yr old thinks I'm old and inappropriate to be seen with - except for the many driving hours we have had to do in pursuit of his license. THAT is as painful for me as it is for him probably!

This week dealt us a big blow. On Sunday I realized our oldest cat (who was only 10-1/2) did not eat. We determined that she'd barfed Saturday's dinner (a kid failed to relay that info...after all one cat puking hardly constitutes an emergency until she refuses food the entire next day). On Monday she went to the vet in the early morning. At this point, I was very surprised she was as sick as she'd obviously gotten overnight. My husband objected when I told him I thought she really was on her way out, and we ought to keep her home. He took her anyway. During the day, I stopped by with the kids. The vet said Sally had improved, but she had no idea what was wrong. In the late afternoon, she called to say we needed to make a decision. THAT decision. Sally had a siezure, and her body was shutting down. I feel so bad for not demanding she stay at home to go through this around people that care for her. Thoughts of her in a cage, with tubes in her, and dogs around her makes me cry. Monday evening, Sophie and I went to see her for the last time, and to bring our girl home for burial. I've never seen my kid cry so much. It was a wretched day. sally had become so much Sophie's kitty.
The next 2 days were hot beach days. I was trying to keep my kids busy, hoping some time away and together would help to heal the sadness. The beach is our happy place.

 It was a "plenty of ice cream" kind of week.
 Even still, it is moments I catch like this that tear at my heart-strings. Clearly she is still processing this loss. As a parent, I want to protect my kids from the  heart ache life brings. I'm not ready for her to lose her innocence, but a small piece of it disappeared this week.
Fortunately, I was 95% finished with this Dahlia Dinner Plate quilt belonging to Jackie Kunkel when our world caved in this week. It was easy to wrap up on Tuesday morning. It is a crazy-complex Judy Niemeyer design that will be released in the coming months. Jackie's rendition of it is soon to be photographed and become their pattern cover!
 I chose a combination of freehand designs and template patterns.
 And of course, some feathers!
 The trick with quilts this complicated is always figuring the most expeditious way to quilt it - ditching areas that need it and catching the fill patterns at the same time.
 It is stitched in 40wt Glide thread in gray, Surperior Magnifico in cranberry, white (brand???) and a pale pink YLI polished poly. All of these threads look very comparable. I also double batted this with 80/20 and wool to show the texture.
 It is hard to tell, but some of the fabrics have cute kitty faces and mouse shapes. The backing has fish bones. It was probably a very good thing I was mostly done before the issues with our cat happened.

The back shows the texture very nicely.
 These fabrics are a soon to be released collection Jackie has with Island Batik...I'm sure she'll chime in and tell me which fabric collection it is. I can't remember.
Have a great Labor day weekend, and find something nice to quilt!

Wednesday, August 08, 2018


With just 3 weeks left of our summer break, each day passes and I wonder what minuscule morsel of productivity I will get that day. I think my brain needed the break, but I really hoped to be further along on several projects. I have quilted a few quilts, one was rather large, but I still feel like I usually do more. I have been getting ready for 2 teaching jobs, one this month at Mancuso's World Quilt show in Manchester, NH and MQX Midwest in September in Springfield, IL. Getting ready always takes longer than it should - cutting fabrics, battings, backing fabric, making folders, etc finding out what you did not order...

Here's one baby quilt done back in late June and never shared... 
 Simple and sweet.

 Here's another of June's finishes...

I decided to load this absolute monstrosity (96"x124") in the summer, against all rules of quilting large customs while my kids are home. It was mostly quilted between 6am-10am, or on the weekends. Summer at least affords them sleep time. Not so much for me though...
 It is the Neimeyer Bali wedding star, beautifully pieced by Anna. I double batted this quilt so as to show off the elegant quilting.
 Quilting is done with beige, tan and a couple of colors of thread on the stars.
 It was on my frame about 2 weeks - an incredible number of hours!
 The owner was delighted, which is all that matters in the end.
 I have another Neimeyer quilt coming my way next week from Jackie Kunkel. When I get back from teaching next week, I will get going on it. It is about 1/2 the size of this beast though!
This next quilt was done last week, and the owner will be here at the end of the month to collect it. She's always challenging to quilt for because I know she does not prefer dense quilting. I'm not very good at keeping the density NOT dense. I just love the look of very dense stitching.
 It is a combination of linework, crosshatching and simple lightly-done fills.

 In June as soon as school got out, we took off for Jamaica for 11 days. We spent a week on the west coast, staying at a cliffside resort.  My kids got to jump into the turquoise water every day from a variety of heights up to about 15ft. He's my dare devil.

 Nice sunsets...lots of heat and humidity (just the way I love it).
 We spent 4 days in Montego Bay too, closer to ziplining, tubing, snorkeling. The kids also parasailed, played in the surf, etc. Hard to go wrong. It is a very happy, though poor place. I can easily see how people go there and stay though because it is beautiful.

Over the last 3 weeks, I have tackled painting 4 rooms in our house. Updating has been slow to happen over recent years.  Sophie's room is now aqua (there's her growing wall of fame).
 The powder room is a happy lavender.
 The kid's bathroom is green (though this makes it look much more chartreuse than it is. The half-peeled fish wallpapers that I put up when my oldest was one are now a thing of the past.
 And, his room was painted too. The last painting was 5-1/2 yrs ago when he was in 5th grade. Somehow, the kelly green walls, toy box and soccer wall stickers were slightly outgrown. The turquoise walls are much prettier (and the curtains are now a plain black panel drape, also much nicer than these faded gray ones.
On top of a little quilting, beach outtings, travel out of the country and painting, I can only say that I am still working on a couple of show quilts. My Value of Violet is finished with the quilting, but a full reveal will wait until the spring when it goes to its first show. Suffice it to say that I am pleased as punch with how it looks and am starting to think about how to bind it.

Hopefully your summer is just marginally more productive!