Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Snow, No, Make that a Sew Day!

  What a lovely surprise. I got a text at 6 AM saying we had a 2 hour delay. I went back to bed till 7AM and took my shower, got another text...NO SCHOOL! Of course, I'm quilting. What would any self respecting quilter do on a snow day, but quilt? Actually it is an ice day, as in freezing rain. Randy slid all the way down our steep driveway leaving for work. I don't plan on leaving the house all day.

  I thought I should post before getting too involved in quilting. On February 24th, Ann's one month anniversary, I gave her the wedding quilt I told you about in the last post. I walked into her office singing  a Happy Anniversary song in my less than melodic voice and gave her the bag. She was thrilled. I don't think you could fake that smile, do you?

  She said new hubby Rick loved it too and it's to be hung in the guest room. They appreciated the biking theme and said it would always remind them of how they reunited after all these years. May they have a very long and happy life together.

  I had several quilts, besides Ann's, to show at Breakfast Club last month. Nancy has a huge flannel wall on a tripod frame to display large quilts for photographing. It is much easier to take quilt photos there than at home. I can't step back far enough here to get the entire quilt in the picture.

  This is my Civil War Generals quilt. As you can see, I started with the 2 panels of Union and Confederate generals and made it in the medallion style using Civil War toiles and specialty fabrics. Most are out of print now. I should have taken a closeup to show the hand-quilting. I did a lot of 1" crosshatching, 1/4" outlining to feature details, and the border is crosshatched behind a rambling feather motif. To see that, check out an earlier post on November 17th.

  Here are the Generals. It's necessary for my quilt to feature both the North and the South since I have 47 ancestors who fought for the Union and 92 ancestors who fought for the Confederacy. No surprise since the Lillards were heavily concentrated in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia at the time. Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky were divided in their loyalties and my family was no exception. I descend from a Jeremiah Lillard who was a minister that moved his family from Kentucky and settled in Missouri after the war, breaking ties with the South.

  I'm very happy to finally show you the quilt I made for Dante. He graduates in May and I'll present it to him then. Until then,"Shhh! It's a surprise." I call it Appamatox Courthouse Steps. I used tons of scraps from my Civil War toiles and specialty fabrics.  There are glimpses of flags, soldiers, cannons, maps, horses, etc. in every block. I can't wait to see his reaction. Kym Ward of Reds Threads did the machine quilting for me.

This is the quilt I made for his brother, Blake, so he wouldn't feel left out. He will receive it when he graduates from college in another year. 

   It's made in the Crazy quilt style, but each block is built around a featured Civil War fabric piece. So, maybe a not so crazy, crazy quilt. It's also machine quilted by Kym Ward. I call it Civil War Crazy. Unlike Dante, Blake never asked me to make him a quilt, so I really hope he enjoys receiving it.

  Ok, now I'm heading for my studio to lose myself for hours and hours. Randy has a meeting tonight after work, so I don't even have to cook supper!

 Keep stitching!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Long Break... Too long!

   I've been incognito for 3 months. Hard to believe, but true. Family issues which started at Thanksgiving when Mom said she was interested in moving into assisted living and would I help ( which took all of December to research, visit, and decide on placement); then she ended the month in the hospital for a week with pneumonia (the very week we were moving her into Sunnybrook!), and lastly, Randy got sick with a terrible upper respitory infection which he naturally shared with me ( I ended up with bronchitis and missed a full week of work.) We both are still left with a cough, but feeling a little better everyday. During the few good days, I quilted and finished "Civil War Generals". Kym Ward finished machine-quilting Dante's and Blake's quilts for me and I picked them up at January Breakfast Club at Inspirations. I have finishing binding all 3 and attached labels, but haven't taken good pictures yet. I'll share them when I do.

  A couple biking friends of Randy's ( I also work with her) became engaged at Christmas with plans of a July wedding. I immediately thought to make them a quilt for a wedding gift. They surprised everybody when they eloped January 24th! They decided at their age, why wait. I hadn't even started the quilt! I downsized the idea to a wall-sized quilt, found an antique bicycle toile to base the pattern on and set to work. I finished it last Thursday, but will wait to give it to them on February 24th, their one month anniversary. Plus, Breakfast Club is this coming Saturday and I want to share it at show n tell along with the other 3 large quilts I recently finished. :) It's been awhile since I had quilts to share.

   This is the Antique Bicycles wedding quilt. It finished at 27" square. The logs are in Civil War repro fabrics of double pinks, poison greens, and blacks. They live in a large Victorian home dating to the 1880's, so the fabrics should go well. Colors are not as dull as the pictures show.

 Back with label...
  I had President's Day off so I spent the day quilting on a small wall quilt for my boss (Media Specialist), Jessica, as a "Thank You" for working double duty the week I was out sick so I didn't have to ask for a sub. I hope to get it done before Saturday too! I'll have to be diligent about quilting everyday after work.

  I hope you had a day off too. Keep stittching!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sure Signs of Winter: Snow & a Quilt in the Frame!

   Ugh! Winter is here in SE Iowa. I hate it more every year.  We had our first snow on Thursday, more on Friday. Temps are in the 20's and 30's for daytime high. Yes, I know I'm whining. Sorry. This is about 6-8 weeks ahead of when I expect or want snow, usually Christmas day is about time for me.

   I like two things about winter though. The first is sweaters. I love the feel and warmth of sweaters and own quite a few. The second and best thing I like/love about winter is a quilt in the frame. Nothing better on a cold winter's day than to be sitting at the quilt frame watching the snow outside. I put my Civil War Generals quilt in the frame on October 28th and have been hand-quilting on it every moment I can since. I rolled it 4 turns last Sunday, the 9th, and am ready to roll it again tonight or tomorrow, so I'm making good progress. It always gives me a great deal of satisfaction to roll a quilt. My frame was custom made for me by my Uncle Jack about 30 years ago. It has a reach of 20", just what I can reach to quilt from one side of the frame. I like it because it takes up less room and I usually tuck it up to the back of the couch in the family room so I can quilt and watch TV with Randy at the same time. I have two sets of poles, one for up to 104" wide quilts and one for up to 60" wide, which is perfect for the 54" square baby quilts I like to make. I never make any quilt wider than 92" though, which is fits our queen-size bed.

  Civil War Generals on the frame ready to begin hand-quilting.
 My favorite tools for marking and hand-quilting.

  Some closeup pictures of the first quilting...

I bought a Civil War Era Bear's Paw quilt from the Jean S. Lyle booth at Des Moines Quilt Expo this year. It was in pristine conditiion, except for a few small brown spots on the back.

  Here's a closeup of a block with a madder plaid.

  I had my yearly physical this morning, so I took the morning off. I had some time before I had to go in to work, just enough time to write a little post. Now I'm off to school. I hope you have a wonderful winter's day quilting. I plan on spending a few hours at the frame to night.

Keep Stitching!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Eye Candy

   I've been awfully remiss in keeping up with my blog. It was a hectic summer and back to school for me. I'll try to make it up by sharing lots of eye candy. Here it goes...

  I added several Civil War quilts to my collection this summer. Thiis is a lovely Princess Feather top.

 I fell in love with this Baskets top. It may date closer to 1870's, a little after the Civil War.
The swag border sold me on this one.
 Another view of the Princess Feather. It is a large quilt.

  I gave a trunk show entitled, "My Quilts: from the Beginning" at Rochester, Minnesota in early August. The first quilt shown is Grandmother's Garden of Stars, I hand-pieced and hand-quilted for Randy starting when we were engaged in February,1980, and finished while I was expecting Isaah, in March,1983.
 A better view of the audience and my Emeline's Garden Baskets being displayed. Some of my antique Civil War quilts are displayed on the railing in front.
I tackled a lot of projects this summer. My first was an indoor project. I put up shelving over my washer and dryer to display part of my antique children's watering can collection. It makes me very happy to do laundry and enjoy my treasures.

 I made another doll quilt featuring the last of my 9-patch squared leftover blocks. It's about 20" x 20" with a toile backing of course.

    I pieced 3 queen-size quilt tops this summer. The first was Dante's which is at Kym Ward's being quilted. The second was for his  older brother, Blake. Both were made with Civil War reproduction fabrics. I'll share pictures of them after they are quilted and ready to give to them in May, 2015. This one is my newest, Civil War Generals. I used some of my favorite toiles, panels, and CW repro fabrics. This one is for me and it's pictured the day I basted it before putting it in my large quilt frame for hand-quilting. It will be my winter project. I've been quilting on it all week and I'm about ready to roll it!  
 It's 87" x 94" so I had to move some furniture out of the way to make room to baste the layers on the living room floor.

  I almost forgot...This quilt was brought to show me at the Rochester trunk show. It's an 1830's Mariner's Compass from an antique shop in Tennessee, but probably originally from New England. It was fabulous.

   I attended my first DAR meeting with the James Harlan  Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter. My paperwork has all been submitted and I'm awaiting my confirmation of membership. I've dreamt of joining for years, but didn't know how to go about it. A local member approached me with an invitation to join. I was thrilled. It took about 3 months to acquire all the genealogical material needed to submit with my application. The meeting yesterday was held in the courtroom of the Henry County Courthouse. The first picture is of the stained glass dome in the ceiling of the 3rd floor. 
  This picture is of the center medallion in the tile work of the first floor of the court house. I've always thought it would translate well into a hexagon quilt. Can't you just see it?
  I attended the AQS show in Des Moines, Iowa earlier this month. I'll share pictures of some of the quilts next time. My quilt frame is calling me! I hope you all keep stitching.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gettysburg, Here We Come!

  Randy and I left early on Saturday, June 28th, picked up our friends, Jeff and Michelle, in Illinois and were on our way. We made it as far as Zanesville, Ohio the first evening. We were determined to get to Gettysburg by Sunday evening.Once we got into Pennsylvania, we visited the Flight 93 Memorial. The memorial is still under construction, but what is there is very impressive and a sad remembrance of those on board who died fighting the terrorists on September 11, 2001.

Through this gate you can see the path to the crash site.

These are the ones lost on Flight 93. As is befitting, not one name of any terrorist on board is mentioned anywhere at the memorial.

This path leads to the crash site, but is reserved for surviving family members only.

This long marble wall is engraved with the names of those on board. The crowd was instinctively quiet at the memorial out of respect for the sacrifice these souls made.

   We left in a somber mood and shared memories of 9/11 as we left the quiet hills behind.

   It was with great excitement that we arrived at Gettysburg National Battlefield...at exactly the time the Visitor's Center CLOSED!!! The Park Ranger was very courteous however, and gave us a quick, but informative introduction to the battlefield.

 I was almost giddy with anticipation of the sights I'd see the next day. We took a few photos of the monuments at the entrance before finding our hotel for the night. I was totally enamored with the carpet at the hotel in the lobby and hallways. It had the Union Seal and medallions of crossed rifles on a field of stars. I envisioned it in my living room. I'm glad I asked Randy to take this picture, because it's only one of five of me on the whole trip and it's not terrible. At least it's better than the pictures of me each year on Christmas morning with sleepy eyes and bedhead hair in my pajamas. Randy never seems to remember to take pictures of me. I tease him that, at my funeral, he won't have any pictures of me to show I lived at all, because I FORBID him to use those awful once a year Christmas pictures. :)

  Did I look casual? The purpose of the picture was to see the carpet, but I was embarrassed to have other guests see me taking a picture specifically of the carpet. I mean, really, who does that?!

  Ok, I'll humble myself here and show the picture he took of me at the Pennsylvania's Visitor's Center. After taking a nice picture of him petting the black bear, he returned the favor, but told me to look scared. Not hard, because, I'm always convinced a bear will attack me when we're in the Smokie Mountains. Here's the beauty that he took and, NO, it can't be at my funeral either!

   I did enjoy myself at Gettysburg, even though, I have no pictures of me there to prove it. I'll share the rest of the story on my next post. I'm waiting for a friend to pick me up to go to a Civil War presentation. I'm not the speaker. It's at the Dover Museum in New London, Iowa, and the topic is: The Civil War from a Woman's Perspective. I'm excited to hear what the male speaker has to say. I hope to learn new things!

  Till next time, Keep Stitchin'.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Last Two Months in a Nutshell

   Long time, no post! I'm guilty of dereliction of duty when it comes to my blog. My big Sis has been haranguing me for weeks (8 of them to be exact) about not posting anything. Gosh, where does time go? The last weeks of school were hectic and VERY stressful this year for all of us. When school got out on June 2nd, I was ready to do anything and everything nonschool related.

  The next day I was booked to speak and teach in Hannibal, Missouri for the Piece Makers Quilt Guild June 3rd and 4th. I had a wonderful time and met a great group of quilters. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and have no pictures of my program or the class I taught! Boy, I was mad at myself.

  I'll try to catch you up on all my goings on since  my post (well, this is embarrassing) on April 30th. Cringe!

  In April I attended the Kalona Quilt Show and here are a few of my favorite quilts I saw.

  I also attended the Civil War reenactment in Keokuk, Iowa.

   I toured the Civil War section of the National Cemetery, also in Keokuk. It was very moving to see all those rows upon rows of graves.

   The first week of May was very busy. I gave a program for the Calico Cut Ups Quilt Guild in Anamosa, Iowa. Then, on May 8th I gave a program for the Friendship Quilter's Guild in Waverly, Iowa. It made for 2 very late bedtimes for me on school nights and I was  glad to catch up sleep on Saturday. One weekend in May, Randy went on a bike ride from the Quad Cities to Galena, Illinois and back. I was free to sew and eat whatever I wanted which meant no cooking!

  Over Memorial Day weekend, my sister, Sandra,  and James, my brother in law came for a surprise visit to Mom's, stopping  here to see my house before traveling on to Illinois. Randy and Isaah both had to work all day Saturday at the Burlington Criterium Bike Races. Randy is President of the Bike Burlington club and was in charge of security for the event which draws racers from around the world. We had a great visit with family at Mom's, but it was too short.

  After I got home from Hannibal, I began landscaping my new yard. I've planted 25 trees, 10 flowering bushes, and dozens of perennials. I had 8 tons of quality black topsoil delivered and hand-scooped, wheel- barrowed, dumped, and spread every ton of it myself to numerous areas of our near half acre lot to fill in sink wholes and create flower beds.

This was early spring before I decided to have the 8 tons of topsoil delivered. The bags weren't going very far. This is the beginnings of my shade garden.

 It's a bit more complete now.

  My biggest project was building a 105 foot long dry river bed in our back yard at the base of a hill where water drains from the 6 lots to the east of ours whenever it rains. I don't plan on having a pond here, so the dry river takes its place. I brought the waterfall rock ledges from my other yard. Water flows over it during a storm and runs into the ditch onto city property. I had to draw up the plan and present it to the City Streets Dept. to get the approval to build it past our property line and drain it on the city property. I've planted assorted perennial prairie grasses and sun-loving perennial flowers along its banks. I shoveled and hauled several tons of rock for this project.
   Randy hauled my pump and well curb for me to sit in the bend of the dry river. It was my 25th anniversary gift from him several years ago and it HAD to move with us. I still need to add green treated 2 by 10" boards to the sides of the platform to finish it off. It sits on wood blocks now.

  At the mouth of the river is a rocky garden area where Mr. and Mrs. Galva Nize  reside. I built them several years ago out of old galvanized buckets, watering cans, coolers, garden utensils, etc. They are happy with their new "digs" and glad to be out of the garage at last.

  This is Mr. Galva Nize. He had suffered a broken arm ( the one not visible in the picture) in the move last fall and I performed surgery on him last week to restore full use to the appendage. No physical therapy needed. :) Doesn't he look proud?

 This is his wife, Tinnie, short for Valentine. She received a wardrobe makeover. You can tell she is corseted in by her tiny waist and has a new longer gown. Her old one was rusted threadbare and needed replaced. She feels quite the stylish lady of the manor now. The rusted bicycle chain necklace is from Randy. He's so generous, considering he is mortified that I included the couple in my new garden. :) He thought they would have been happy to stay with the people who bought our old house. I'm afraid he was mistaken. They pleaded with me to come with us. Family is everything after all!
  I created a berm and planted a row of boxwood along the outer curve of our front sidewalk to help stop snow from drifting across it. We found out the lovely breezes we enjoyed on this hill last summer and fall became brutal winds in winter. Every snow storm caused a 2 foot drift across the center of the sidewalk. We'll see if this helps prevent that this winter.

   I'm done buying and planting for this summer. I declared it good for now, plus I'm tuckered out and tired of going to bed aching all over every night. I'm back to quilting!

  I've sewn more blocks of Courthouse Steps for Dante. He will be a senior this year so I need to get the top together and on the frame for quilting. I don't know if I ever said why I was making this quilt. He's one of my all time favorite students and he's the only one outside of family who ever asked me to make a quilt for them. He asked me when he was a sophomore and I said, "Oh, Dante, it takes a lot of work to make a quilt." I secretly was pleased he asked me and decided then that I would make him one for his graduation and not tell him. He asks me about my Civil War programs all the time and loves to hear the stories. He's always volunteering to help me do heavy work in the media center ( he's a 6'6" and 200 lbs. football player.) He  even hauled 15 Blue Spruce trees in his pickup for me before school got out.  He's just a great kid I'm fond of who deserves a quilt! I have 191 of the 225 blocks needed done. Here is a picture of the stack. That's a 14" rotary cutting ruler standing next to them to give an idea of how big the stack is.
  And here is a stack of the 4" size Courthouse Steps blocks for my own quilt next to his.

I promised to show a finished picture of  Raspberry Nines, the doll quilt in progress in my last post.

 And here's a new doll quilt I'm working on. I had one 9-Patch squared block left and couldn't stand to not use it somehow.
 I think I'll take it on vacation with me to quilt in the car. We are going to Gettysburg!!! I don't know where else, maybe Antietam  and Harper's Ferry, who knows, but  did I mention GETTYSBURG?! Top of my bucket list, by the way. Our friends, Jeff and Michele invited us to go with them since they are new "empty nesters" and their grown kids don't want to go with them. I plan on visiting a few quilt shops along the way of course. I will take my camera along so I'll have pictures to share next time. I promise it won't be 2 months this time! My sister would never let me live that down. Are you happy now, Sissy?

  Until next time, keep stitchin'!