Monday, October 9, 2017

Two Tiny Finishes

Last week, when I dug into my card-making box, I found a second tree piece that I'd begun to quilt.  It was long and narrow, and primarily river.  I didn't know what I wanted to do with it, other than to finish it.  I doubled the quilting in the water, then thread-painted the batik trees.  Then I set it aside.

When I came back to it, I measured it. 6.25" tall.  Not large enough to face it, if I wanted to cut off a 6" finished piece, but binding?  That would work.  I'd already sliced it off and trimmed it, before I remembered my camera.
 What do you think?  Is it better as two pieces?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  As two pieces, it fulfills two requirements.
 I finished the 6" piece by binding, adding a fish, and mounting it on canvas.  This is #7, of the 6" mounted pieces for Sew Eclectic.  I'm pretty pleased with the way my collection is coming together.
 This larger piece is for my niece.  I didn't have any appropriate animal charms, but she's a big fan of steam punk.  I'd purchased these gears and sequins, thinking that I would use them on something for her.  I think it's kind of fun, in a funky sort of way.
I've also been out to the walnuts, to check the trees and walk the dogs.  I don't know if I've introduced you to my son's new dog, Sandy.  She's a hoot, still in the puppy stage.  She has a sweet disposition, which offsets her mediocre brain capacity.  She's definitely not as smart as Roscoe or Pixel.
 My son makes them sit, before letting them loose in the orchard.  They can barely keep their bottoms on the ground, they are SO excited.
 And once in the orchard?  They hunt for nuts.  They LOVE walnuts.  Look at Roscoe.  "I spy!!"  And then he cracks it open in his jaws and gulp!  All gone.
And I guess that's it...oh wait!  That's not it.  I've made great progress on my quilt from the David Taylor class I took three years ago.  I have soaked the finished applique in the tub, which was a very good move.  Both the red and the black bled heavily, despite prewashing.  Here is the quilt, as it soaks in the tub.  Thank you, Vicki Welsh, for your cure for bleeding fabrics!!
 I then hung the top to dry.  I am SO glad I covered it with this sheet.  I left it out overnight, and a gust of wind caught it and sent it crashing to the ground.  The quilt itself stayed clean.  whew!
I have one more little bit to add to the top.  Once I make a decision, I will be able to baste it and begin quilting. 

This year's quilting goals have fallen by the wayside.  If I can just finish this quilt, it will be enough for 2017.  I know that I am running out of time, but I'm going to give it a valiant effort.  Goals are good, and all that.  Putting them in writing?  Even better.  Here's hoping that I've got something to show you in the not-too-distant future.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

6" Quilt...and a Baby!

My youngest son and his wife have been expecting for the past nine months.  The official due date was October 4.  Little Addison Marilyn made her arrival on Thursday, September 28.  My husband and I were blessed to be allowed in the delivery room for the birth.  It was an absolute miracle, an experience I will never forget.
 In the morning, as momma labored, I was meeting with my Itty Bitty quiltie group.  I had gone through a box of spare parts, and unearthed a leftover block from my 2012 Hoffman Challenge.  You can see that quilt here

I spent Thursday morning adding embellishments, as well as Friday.  Miss Addison spent two days in NICU, so she was off limits to Grammie.  Seemed like a good idea to put my extra energy to good use.  The 6" finished block is mounted on canvas.  (The green background is not part of the quilt.)
And there you go.  I have other things underway, but I suspect that my quilting time is going to be squeezed once again.  Knowing me, I would rather play with a baby than needle and thread.

Oh happy day!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Little Quilt and Germany, pt 1

The list of cards I owe is really long.  As you know, this has not been a very productive year for me, quilt-wise.  I dug through my card bin, and found this narrow piece.  It has lots of thread painting, echoing the trees of the batik.  It called for something to finish it off.  I looked through my treasure bin, and found this moose pin, that I'd purchased at an estate sale for $1.  Perfect!
 This image shows the accurate colors, though Mr. Moose and his enamel sure reflect the glare of the flash!  I'm not sure I can get a proper picture, with both accurate color AND no reflection.  This will have to do.  sorry.
Our next-to-last stop on the cruise was Germany.  We signed up for a tour of "Hanseatic League Cities."  This involved visiting two historic cities involved in an economic league centuries ago.  The first was Luebeck, the second was Wismar.  Today, I'll introduce you to Luebeck.  (It's actually spelled with an umlaut, but I can't find a tab to insert the character.)

Luebeck was the seat of the Hanseatic League.  We drove for about 90 minutes west, crossing over the now invisible border dividing East/West Germany.  The drive took us through miles of agriculture, primarily grain crops. 
 When we parked and disembarked the bus, this was on one side of the parking lot.
This was the view on the other side.
 The city gate still stands, though it is now flanked by busy roads.  I love the brickwork.  There are stripes, of black and green, that aren't apparent in this photo.  The colors were achieved with glaze.  It was a beautiful day.  Look at that sky!!
 The city is both modern and historic.  It was bombed during WWII, so relatively new structures stand next to Gothic cathedrals.  Beautiful!
Modern graffiti, historic buildings.  Such is life in the west, i.e., not newly freed from Soviet oppression.  (26 years is recent history in Europe)
 Look at this church, stretching to the heavens!
 Can you see the flying buttresses?  I'd studied them in several Art History classes, but this was the first time I actually saw some in person.  So THAT's a flying buttress!
 This was a walking tour, and walk we did.  We moved around the historic paths, with cobblestone walks and soaring brickwork.  This was a very dramatic change from the countries we'd visited earlier.  Those with Russian influence had palaces build from stone. Prussian influence?  Clay/brick seems to be the construction material of choice.
I know I tend to go on and on, so I'll leave you here.  Luebeck = lots of soaring brickwork.  Gorgeous!

Next stop:  Wismar, Germany

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sunset Quilt and Lithuania

I'm continuing to try to knock out several cards and make a dent in my guilt list.  So many birthdays have passed this year, without acknowledgement from me.  I mean, "Happy Birthday" on Facebook isn't quite my idea of doing it right.
 I'm not sure if you can see the beading along the shore.

When I was trimming after quilting, I turned it upside down.  Hey!  What does that look like to you?  It looks like "land" or an island to me.  I'm going to have to explore this idea.  I like it!
So, let's see.  Back to the travelogue.

We were planning to visit Riga, Latvia, but the waves were too high (12') and the wind too gusty (40 knots?)  Docking would have been too dangerous.  Instead of Riga, we had an extra day at sea.  It was a good chance to play catch-up with my handwritten journal.

The next day, we arrived in Klaipeda, Lithuania.  I had no idea what to expect.  Klaipeda is a town that has been conquered repeatedly.  It was heavily destroyed during WWII, and then tucked into the Soviet Union.  After the war, the Russians shipped the Lithuanians from Klaipeda to Siberia, and moved in.  harsh.

The view from the ship was definitely not industrial.  It was all locals.
 This is the town hall.  The statue of the girl, with her back to the balcony honors the only girl who turned her back on Hitler, when he addressed the town from that balcony.  The only one.
 I was amazed by the cleanliness of the cobblestones.  Look at that!  Such a contrast from Helsinki!
 There isn't much to see in Klaipeda.  This is the Magic Mouse.  Apparently if you whisper your wishes into his ear, he will make them come true.
Look at those spotless streets!  Refreshing!
 We went to an amber store, where we were given a short course on Baltic amber.  It is both mined, and can be found in the churning waves of the sea.  It is very lightweight, and comes in a variety of colors.  She also demonstrated how to polish it.  They always leave part unpolished, to prove that it is genuine.
 I had to take a picture of this storefront.  haha!  Funny!
From the town, we went out to the countryside.  We were taken to a Refugee Museum, and introduced to some survivors of the deportation to Siberia.  These ladies were all between the ages of 3-7 when they were shipped to Siberia.  In 1991, when the USSR broke up, they were finally allowed to return to Lithuania.
 From there, we went further into the countryside.  Look!  A cow!  (When do you ever go anywhere and see a single cow, with a pasture to herself? )
 When we reached our final Lithuania destination, I thought this was a great way to store firewood.
And at this point, the battery ran out in my camera.  *sigh*  Next stop:  Germany

And I've finished another little quiltlet, which I will share with you next time.  Happy Quilting!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Wee Quilt, and Helsinki, Finland

I think I said we were headed to Latvia from St. Petersburg.  oops.  That was incorrect.  Our next stop was Helsinki, Finland.  It's been more than a month, so I guess I can excuse the slip.

I have to say that the thing that shocked me the most about Sweden, Finland, and Denmark was the filth.  Litter, graffiti, cigarette butts EVERYWHERE - I don't have any desire to return.  I had great hopes for Finland...after all, Marimekko, right?  I saw one sign advertising it, but nary a thread during our 3 hours on shore.

Like the other port towns, the view on approach is filled with cranes.
 When we docked, I was surprised to see this athletic facility, complete with two pools built right out to the sea.  To the right of the photo was a large ferris wheel, and in the distance is a marketplace.
 Here is a better view of the market, with the orange and white tents.  The buildings in the background are town hall and other government buildings.  I believe they were originally built as palaces, under the direction of Peter the Great.
There really wasn't much to see during our three hour bus tour.  We stopped to visit this sculpture, celebrating their most famous composer.  I've since forgotten his name.  She told us to, "come back and tell me what you saw.  One person told me it looks like angel wings!"  Well, other than the obvious "organ pipes," it looks a lot like a mop head to me.  Can you tell I'm in my fourth decade as a housewife?
 We also stopped to see their "famous" Church of the Rock.  Have you heard of it?  I had not.  We marched up this narrow cigarette butt-littered sidewalk to the top of the block.
 This is the entrance to the church.  It was built in a crater, blasted out of the rock.  They charge admission to enter.
 Here is the interior.  The dome is made from woven copper wire, which I have to admit was pretty amazing.  The slats around the dome admit natural light.
Our last stop was Parliament Square, which was preparing for a garden event.  They were in the process of rolling sod onto the concrete plaza.  The church overlooking the square is a replica of St. Isaacs in St. Petersburg.  The stairway leading up to the church is quite steep, and not recommended if you are at all out of shape.
 Up we climbed.  Here is the view looking down towards the harbor.  It's past the buildings behind hubby.  On the right is a university, and behind him, you can see the fresh sod.  The light poles were hung with giant bluebells.
 We went down to the marketplace, but did not buy anything.  I didn't really want anything to remind me of Finland.  Why?  Because, unfortunately, this was my takeaway: 
After seeing Estonia and St. Petersburg, where the people have a sense of national pride, everything was well cared for...Helsinki?  Not so much.  Or maybe we were on the graffiti/litter tour?  Who knows?  I just know that if I were going to drive a busload of tourists around my town for three hours, I would make a concerted effort to show beautiful highlights.  Wouldn't you?

Last week, I was productive.  Oh, it feels good to say that!

I may not have made anything large or impressive, but for me?  Quilting is about creating and the process.  And last week?  I really needed to finish something.  Anything.

A few years ago, I made a 12" quilt for the SAQA online auction, which coincidentally is going on as I type.  You can buy an auction quilt from this website.  I've purchased many quilts from this auction over the years, and have never been disappointed.  I receive a beautiful 12" quilt; SAQA receives money to fund their programs.  This is our primary fundraiser of the year.  (I'm telling you, as much as I am reminding myself.)

Anyway, I made this little quilt, back in 2014, and called it, "Sing Praise."
Doggone it.  I don't know why it's turned on its ear!  You're going to have to tilt your heat to see it properly.  As with many of my projects, I had trims and leftovers.  I'd sewed the trims together, and have had a 7" x 6" piece of green scraps floating around the studio for three years.  Three years!  It was time to do something with it, or dump it.

Well, I don't dump anything.  I trimmed 1/2" from one side, and stitched it to the other, making a 6.5" square.  I then appliqued a couple of birdies.  hmmm.  I had little birdie templates on my sewing table.  I don't even remember what they are from, maybe postcards?

They needed some feather-stitched wings, and some greenery to hide beneath.
 Here's a bit of a close-up.  I could have done a better job with value, but then birdies don't like to be too obvious when they're on the ground, right?
When finished, I faced the quilt and mounted it on stretched canvas (which had been painted black).  I need to get more hooks and wire to hang them, but I think I'm pretty happy with the end result.  They now are in the stack of 6" mounted quilts made for our 2017 Sew Eclectic Challenge.  Now that I've finished another one?  I want to do a sixth.  These things are addictive!

And I've sewn more than this, but I'll save it for another post.  Happy Stitching!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Another Wee Quilt, and St. Petersburg - final

Over the weekend, I finally made it back to the studio to do some stitching.  I put together bits and pieces, and began working with this:
 I don't know if you recognize them, but they are leftovers from a few projects last year.  Once I'd inserted the strip, I pulled a piece of seaweed off of my design wall.  It's been sitting there for who-knows-how long.  For some reason, each time I look at this, I think "Lighthouse," but there's nary a lighthouse to be seen on this little quilt.  strange.

St. Petersburg - Final

After our morning at the Faberge Museum, the evening was spent at the ballet.  It was not the Bolshoi, and it was not at their primary ballet auditorium.  We saw Swan Lake, at Alexander Theater.  It is an imposing structure, though maybe not, when you consider that everything built by the Romanovs was imposing.  This was built by Catherine the Great, for her favorite grandson Alexander.
 Before we entered the building, we walked through the garden to view this statue of Catherine the Great.  She looks like a Viking to me, or like she belongs on a ship's prow.  She was a very powerful woman, who ruled as Empress, even though it was her (stashed away) husband who was of the royal line.
 My husband insisted on taking lots of pictures of me.  This one is not half bad.  Catherine looms directly behind me, and out of the frame.
 It took quite a while to find our seats, but find them we did.  There were wooden chairs lined up on the floor.  We were in the sixth row.  This is the stage. 
When you turn around, the other 3 walls greet you with the balconies.  And, wow!  Look at that chandelier!
 I believe this was Catherine's box in Alexander Theater?  It was in the back of the room, with the best view of the stage.
 Hubby and his selfies!  This is the last photo I have from the ballet, as all photography of the show was banned.  The ballet itself, was disappointing.  I've heard about and seen Russian dancers, but I guess I've only heard about and seen the best.  Once I got over the shock that they were not dancing perfection, I was able to delight in the amazing surroundings and the incredible costuming.  Quite the experience, to be sure!
On our third and last day in St. Petersburg, we visited The Hermitage.  This was originally the Winter Palace, built by Elizabeth.  But Elizabeth died 7 years into the 8 years it took to complete the building.  Catherine moved in, and devoted half of it to her private art collection.  She called her galleries "The Hermitage," meaning that it was for her enjoyment, and hers only.

After the Revolution, the Communists kept it intact, and opened it to the public.  wow!  Anyone and everyone could now be exposed to the Masters.  During WWII, all of the art was whisked away to Siberia before the Nazis invaded.  There are photos of the people visiting the museum and admiring the empty frames, as an attempt at normalcy when they were under siege.

We arrived on a rainy day.  The wait looked long, but once they opened, we entered quickly.
 We walked up a marble staircase, in the middle of this amazing soaring building.  What an entry way!  Look at those columns!
 Here's a close-up, and remember:  If it looks like gold, it IS gold.
 There were a couple of thrones, this was one of them.
 There were parquetry floors everywhere.  I took LOTS of pictures of floors. They may have been my favorite part of the Hermitage.
 They had a fiber and fashion display as we first entered the museum.  This gown actually belonged to Catherine the Great.  Judging by the gown?  She couldn't have been much taller than 4'6".  I would have dwarfed her.
We entered room upon room and hall upon all, all filled with treasures.  I believe they said that if you spent one minute studying each item in the collection, it would take more than 7 years to view it all.  I believe it!  I found the passage from one wing to another to have a fascinating view.
 Every bit of the palace is decorated.  No surface is left alone.  Can you imagine?
Here is another view, from another walkway to another wing:  right over a canal!
 This is the clock room.  If you click on it, you can see a glass case near the middle of the frame.  It contains an elaborate peacock clock, that is unbelievable.
 This is about the best picture I could get of it.  When it hits the hour, the peacock lifts its tail and flaps its wings and the owl hoots and the mouse moves, etc., etc.  The time is kept on a mushroom at the bottom of the scene.  It is incidental to this mechanical marvel.
 And I guess I would be remiss, if I failed to mention the art.  But I found the paintings to be disappointing, simply because they were all behind glass.  One could not view them without seeing reflections.  Apparently someone entered The Hermitage and doused a Rembrandt with acid several years ago.  After that, all of the paintings were installed behind protection.  Good for the paintings, bad for the viewer.
And that was it for our time in St. Petersburg.  We reboarded the ship, and headed out that afternoon.  Say goodbye to the impressive architecture!
 And the port activities...
 Once we pass the bridge, we are back in the Baltic.
Next stop...Riga, Latvia.  At least that was the plan...