Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hexamania and a Hope Chest

Hello Everyone and Happy Sunday,

For the past few years, I've had this beautiful silk and taffeta quilt on display in our bedroom. I never appreciated the workmanship until now since I started making English paper-pieced flowers for the Party in the Garden Quilt.

I don't know much about this quilt other than the fact that my mother had it stored for years in her hope chest. I'm a firm believer in displaying old quilts, using the good china, crystal and silver. I love to use and enjoy the items that have been handed down to me. Yes, a dish from my great-grandmother broke one Christmas.....but I don't think she would mind. I think she would have been delighted that the dishes were being used by family members she never had the chance to meet.

Now back to the quilt. It is unfinished and I will never finish it since the back of the quilt is so interesting.

I've been upstairs "reading" the back of the quilt for the last hour and finally found what I was looking for . A scrap of paper with the date of May 19, 1949, making this quilt almost 61 years old! (It's as old as my sister!.....I'm going to hear about this!)
Many different types of paper were used to make the hexagons. Envelopes, paper bags, advertisements, church bulletins.....nothing was wasted. Here is an envelope used from an electric bill from Paradise, hometown. So, now I know approximately how old the quilt is and where is was made.....but I don't know who made it or how it ended up in my mother's hope chest.
Seed packets were cheap!
Silk Toilet Tissue? A postmark from Chicago.
Another envelope.
These stitches are so precise that I'll bet the person who made this may have diminished their eyesight and that's why it was never completed.
More church bulletins and pages from magazines were used.
Here are my blocks. They aren't nearly as interesting. I've used perfectly die-cut hexagons made out of heavy cardstock. I'm not going to show you the back, as the stitches don't even come close to the perfection of the old quilt.
Those of you that have used applique pins know how tiny these hexagons are. They are so sweet. I will keep making my blocks hoping to perfect my stitches. Someday, someone I've never met will take this quilt out of a hope chest and use it.....I hope!

Enjoy your day and use the good china for Sunday dinner tonight.

As always,


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Civil War Tribute Quilt

Hello Quilting Friends,

Not much to report on for the last few days. Since we were at the cabin for ten days, we've had lots of work to do around this house upon our return. No storm damage, but we did have quite a bit of debris down in the yard.

So here's what I've been working on in between menu planning, grocery shopping, bill paying and getting all of the financial information gathered together for the tax accountant.....what a chore that is!

I've been working on some more blocks for the Civil War Tribute quilt. The little 6-1/2" blocks scattered around the larger blocks are the Lil' Orphan Scrappy blocks I've been making out of the leftover fabric. I'll have the Lil' Orphan Scrappy pattern available for sale at the shop soon.

Now here is my problem block. These corners have been bothering me ever since I finished the block. The direction of the wheat is all "wonky" and I didn't have enough fabric left to correct it. Every time I walked into my quilting room, I would look at that block and think it needs to be changed! I'm not 100% sold on that fabric wonky or not.

I've been auditioning other fabrics to see what looks the best. One choice....

....another choice.
I'm not satisfied with either fabric, but I do know that I'm going to change the corners to something else. That's the beauty of quilting. If you don't like something, change it. Trust your instinct and sense of color. If you are going to be spending a lot of time and money on a quilt, make it YOUR quilt, YOUR way. Just because a certain fabric comes in a kit or a block of the month, doesn't mean you HAVE to use it if you don't want to. It's okay to change things up a bit or a lot. I'll let you know what fabric I'm going to put in the corners. I may not even decide until the end, when I've got other colors to choose from in the fabric line. I'm not a purest, so I will probably use something from my fabric stash if I think it looks good.

Here are the little scrappy blocks I've put together from the leftover fabric. I've added three "lights" to the mix in a color consistent with the Civil War look and feel. I still have enough leftover fabric to make many more little blocks which are so much fun to make.

Enjoy your day and the sunshine everyone.

As always,


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Back From Beyond

Good Morning Friends,

It was time to come home. The power, phone, cable, and Internet all went out around noon on Friday. The first 24 hours we had fun being resourceful. The Cornish Game Hen we cooked on top of the wood burning stove was quite tasty. The recipe wasn't good enough for the Wilder Family Cookbook, but it was good.

I have two of these HEAVY old irons that I was trying to use to applique. Where there's a will, there's a way! I would keep one warm on the wood stove while working on these little leaves. Well, I've never had trouble with carpal tunnel syndrome....but I will now after using these heavy irons. The bottom line is I completed only nine leaves using the starch method of applique with this iron!

It was getting harder and harder each day to walk down out back to take these pictures. I finally resorted to wearing Joe's boots that were much taller than mine. But they were so big that my sock ended up wadded in the toe of the boot every time. I've fallen and I can't get up has true meaning for me now. It's hard to extricate yourself to a standing position while trying to protect your camera. Zinny was absolutely no help at all. She just pranced around me doing her little doggy laugh and thinking it was very funny being eyeball to eyeball with me.

Joe says the bird feeder resembles Marge Simpson's hairdo. It was the equivalent of gathering around the water cooler in an office. We had every bird in the neighborhood eating at our feeder contently waiting their turn.

Every candle we owned was pressed into service. Working on applique by candlelight is definitely not an option. Reading by candlelight was also ruled out very quickly. We played a game called Rummykub....great fun but hard to make any distinction between the colors of the tiles. Either we have old eyes, or weak candles. We went for a walk, in the dark to check out the rest of the neighborhood that was also in complete darkness except for the one cabin with an extremely annoying generator that pierced the solitude of the evening. Zinny had a great time romping in the snowbanks dropping out of sight on more than one occasion.

We came back to the cabin, had a glass of wine by the fire, then headed for bed without the benefit of an electric blanket. But not to fear, I have so many quilts around the cabin, on beds, on walls, on the back of couches that we were nice and toasty.

After 24 hours without power we decided to come home. Much longer than that, we probably wouldn't have been such good sports! The power is still out as of this writing. Over 5,000 customers are without power caused by 50 separate outages. I'm thinking the food in our fridge is history.

The past ten days have been some days that we will remember for a long time. We had torrential rain, sleet, thunder and lightning and snow. Driving home, the emergency broadcast system came over the radio, and we were headed into a potential tornado! Surprising weather for California.

I hope all of you have a wonderful day. I'll be warm and cozy working at the shop tomorrow. Hope to see some of you there.

As always,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nature's Patterns & Colors

Hello Friends,

I'm often asked where I get my ideas for using color in my quilts. You don't have to look far. Color, patterns and shapes surround us every minute of the day. Where I go, the camera goes.

In a sea of white, one little, yet brilliant red berry refuses to "let go" of home. It reminds me of the story The Last Leaf by O'Henry.

The shape, color and texture of these leaves will probably make it into my next quilt.
I look at this wall and see the beginning of a flying geese pattern.
Here are those green leaves coming to life in a 4-1/2" English paper-pieced block for the Party in the Garden quilt. The hexagons are no bigger than a nickel...but so sweet.
I love English paper-piecing. It is so relaxing and fun to create these beautiful little blocks. It's a good thing I'm enjoying this process....because they take FOREVER to make and I have to make fourteen of them for the quilt. Well, I don't have to, but I think they are going to work into the quilt quite nicely. I'll be so relaxed after making them that I'll be borderline comatose!
Remember the leftover fabrics from the Civil War Tribute BOM from earlier this week? Well here are two examples of what I going to do with them. I just added one more "light" fabric and voila! I'm on my way to two quilts for the price of one. These blocks end up measuring 6-1/2" so your scraps can be just that, tiny pieces of fabrics that you just can't part with.

I could make these blocks in my sleep. I've made two Lil' Orphan Scrappy quilts by myself. My sister, Gail, and I made another one together for our Aunt's surprise 80th birthday. Each month, I'll make the required blocks for the Civil War quilt, then combine all of my leftovers and make blocks for another scrappy quilt. As more and more colors are introduced each month, the blocks will just get prettier and prettier. Here's an example of the finished product.

Well friends, it's time to get back to work up here in the Little House in the Big Woods. (My last name is Wilder, but no relation to Laura Ingalls Wilder....darn, I think we are kindred spirits.) It has been snowing most of the last five days, and we've enjoyed every minute of it.

Hope your day was a good one.

As always,


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Marathon Quilting Continues at the Cabin

Dear Quilting Friends,

The mini quilting marathon continues today with the wind raging outside and the snow is falling fast. The trees are whipping around so much that it seems like their branches are throwing snowballs at the house.

Just finished the little trellis block for the Party in the Garden BOM. It's a cute little block with lots of tiny pieces. The flowers each have five to six petals cut out from the large floral pattern in the fabric line. The open gate is inviting you to step inside the garden. Maybe this is an entrance to a secret garden? Maybe I've been up in the woods a bit too long!

Here's a picture of the outside of my workshop...a.k.a. my dining room. I'm surrounded by seven windows and I definitely get the feeling that I'm working inside a snow globe for most of the day.

Big, wet, soggy flakes today. We've probably had a foot of snow that has compressed itself to much less.

The bird feeder is looking a little top-heavy don't you think?

"I'm loving this cold, white stuff that sticks to my whiskers. I love to go galumping (not in spell check but you know what I mean) through the neighborhood. My companion says I look like the Loch Ness Monster...whatever that is. She is starting to call me Nessy and I'm not sure I like that. I lost one tennis ball today in a snow bank, maybe I'll find it in the spring thaw. Don't worry, I'll find more tennis balls covered with dust bunnies under the furniture. That's all for now. I have to go chase some squirrels then it's my nap time."

I'm not going bonkers....really I'm not. We've been enjoying each storm. The cabin is nice and toasty but I'm noticing that the wood supply isn't as plentiful as it was last week. I've been making pots of homemade soup and baking bread. We haven't lost that I've said that, we know what is going to happen!

Have a great day everyone.

As always,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Quilting Up A Storm.......

Hello Everyone,

Greetings from sunny California! What's that song, "It Never Rains in California....." We've had rain, wind, hail, thunder and lightning, snow and let me mention the wind again. The pine trees that surround Wilder's Last Resort were really whipping around this morning. Zinny approached her morning constitutional with a bit of trepidation out in the elements today. Can't say that I blame her one little bit.

Today I've been working on the embroidery on the bird house block for Party in the Garden BOM. Embroidery is so relaxing and peaceful. The graceful tendrils add a nice little touch to this block.

I wanted to make this block a little different by adding some scallops to the side. Joe said he didn't think they were very noticeable, so I added a strip of red to make them show up a little bit better. He has a good eye and surprises me sometimes with his quilting comments. I've learned to listen to him. (Good thing he doesn't read my blog....I'd never live that statement down!) All I have to do is add a little perch for the bird and this block is finished.

The snow started in earnest this afternoon. I won't be sitting out on this bench any time in the near future. This is our marshmellow roasting bench close to the fire pit. S'mores...mmmmm!

I shoveled the whole deck this afternoon and at the rate the snow is falling, I'll be out there soon with my snow shovel again. Joe and I have an agreement. He takes care of the driveway and I do the decks. I'm beginning to think I got the short end of the shovel since he can use the snowblower!

Stay safe and try to enjoy the weather. It sounds like we will have at least two maybe three more days of stormy weather.
As always,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Quilting at the Windy Cabin

Good Morning Friends,

The lights have been flickering up here in Northern California so I'll try to get this post completed before the power goes out. Just a touch of snow yesterday afternoon. Today it's been only rain and wind. In my post yesterday, I mentioned the "Melody of the Mountains." Well folks, today that melody is a full blown Tabernacle Choir! As I gaze upon the towering pine trees right outside my windows, I'm wondering just how far they can sway before they snap off like toothpicks.

Joe is up in his woodworking shop sanding off his fingerprints, while I'm in my "workshop" with a recalcitrant one-year old Golden Retriever just begging to go play ball outside. I keep telling her, "Not today Sweety." Somehow that just isn't enough to pacify her. Joe would keep her in the wood shop, but she is sensitive to the noise and eats the wood chips. (Note to self, Zinny needs more roughage.)

I just finished up the two blocks from the shop's Civil War Tribute block of the month. I signed up for this BOM after I finished packaging up Month #2. The fabrics were absolutely I signed up. The amount of fabric for Month #1 was very generous (even with my cutting mistake!) I have plans for the leftovers and will post that at another date....maybe tomorrow.

The quilt is beautiful, LARGE (100" x 112"), and will look great up here at the cabin in the master bedroom.

The first month you make two blocks, 18" and 12". I don't think I've ever made an 18" block in my life until today! This quilt is going to be a fun one to make and I look forward to Month #2.

So friends, I'm off to my next project. This is going to be my mini quilting Olympics this week. Weather reports from Wilder's Last Resort will be provided by yours truly each and every day. Stay safe out there.

As always,

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Quilting at the Stormy Cabin

Dear Quilty Friends,

Just finished with the first inner border for "Heartfire." I brought fabric with me for the outer borders, but I'm just not sure that I'm going to use it. I think I'll wait until we get back to town and pick out something a bit more lively. This part of the quilt measures 48" x 58" making it a nice lap quilt for these cold winter evenings.

Speaking of cold winter's a bit chilly up here in the mountains. The rain just started and the branches of the trees are decorated with sparkling diamonds.

The storm clouds are rolling in quickly over our little haven in the woods.

Joe and I are just staying put to ride out a very stormy week that's been predicted for California. No work for me tomorrow at the shop. Holly and Melissa are going to cover for me.

While Zinny and I were out for our morning walk, we heard the "melody of the mountains." The song for me is the wind up in the pine trees, an occasional hum of a far off chain saw, punctuated with the chop of an axe. The highlight of the melody for me is the honking of geese overhead. We saw a flock headed south....or getting the 'H' 'E' double-toothpicks out of Dodge!

In preparation for the impending storm, we headed to the grocery store yesterday morning for supplies. The population of Arnold on any given day hovers around 4,000 full-time residents. Throw in a 3-day holiday weekend and good snow at Bear Valley and the population escalates more than I can calculate all heading to the grocery store at the same time. The bread aisle was spotty and was in the process of being restocked. Milk and eggs were also at a premium. And, don't forget the backup in the Charmin aisle!

We are hunkering down at Wilder's Last Resort. The fridge is full, the candles and matches are at the ready, the firewood is stacked on the porch, we have good books to read while sipping a glass of wine and I have quilting projects to attend to. Last but not least, I have my love to keep me warm. I feel a song coming on!

I'll keep you posted via the blog. The last "BIG" storm didn't amount to much. I have great expectations that the weather this week will not disappoint. If you don't hear from me for long periods of time, just figure that my wireless connection is gone and I'm quilting by candlelight.

As always,


Friday, January 15, 2010

Quilting at the Cabin

Hello Friends!

Isn't it wonderful news that In Between Stitches was selected by American Patchwork and Quilting for the Spring Sampler magazine! We are all so excited and happy for Melissa, Leslie and the shop. You can bet there will be a big celebration when the magazine hits the newsstand!

I've been pretty quiet lately. Not everyday is "blogworthy". We came up to the cabin on Wednesday so we could attend the Homeowners Association pot luck dinner down at Snowflake Lodge. We spent a fun evening chatting with our tablemates. It is inspiring to spend an evening with couples in their late 70's and early 80's. Their life stories flowed throughout the evening. We can all learn so much from these active, vibrant, and just plain good people. We also chatted with another attendee who is 75 and still skis four days a week at Bear Valley! She puts me to shame! I get winded walking around the neighborhood!

I don't ski, don't care to ski....I don't do well with anything on my feet other than shoes! Forget ice skates or roller skates....that's a whole story in itself that I'll save for another post.

So, this is what I've been working on for the past couple of days. I'm naming this quilt Heartfire. The center medallions dance across the quilt. I'll start attaching the setting triangles tonight and try to get the whole thing together tomorrow....maybe. I haven't quite decided what French General fabric I want to put on the borders. Wait until you see the French General Christmas fabric! I know, I know, I just said the Christmas word....but it's never to early to start planning those projects! Okay, so I'll just concentrate on getting this quilt done for Valentine's Day.

I love these blocks. They went together quickly and every single one of them are different and have their own personality.

I'll be kitting this up at the shop soon if you are interested. Now I have to work on the directions for the pattern. I would rather make the quilt five more times than get the pattern pulled together. I take good notes while I'm working on the quilt. It's just difficult to translate the notes into clear and concise directions. I do all my own graphics and they take me awhile to create.

I know when I've been at the computer or the sewing machine too long when Zinny comes over and drops her ball at my feet. She knows when it's "chucker" time and off we go to get some exercise.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Try to get to the shop to take advantage of the celebration "sale" tomorrow. I'll be spending my day at the sewing machine in the cabin creating new patterns for you to make!

As always,

Lynn and Zinny (it's "chucker" time)