holy week

In another life (or so it seems to me now) I was married to an Episcopal priest.  He had the most exquisite tenor voice that I’ve ever heard.  He read the NY Times to me on Sundays after Mass.  He taught me how to laugh again, and how to love the church, from which I had been estranged.  (I was a cradle Roman Catholic, picked off and cast out!)

Holy Week was something special as celebrated with the Anglicans.  How I loved the good incense and the music and the community of people huddled together.  I remember one Good Friday in particular, celebrated in the back bay of Boston.  The sun had not yet set and we were there, determined to keep the watch through the long night.   Someone opened and entered the rear church doors, exposing golden rays of sunlight which streamed down the aisle, straight through to the altar.  I had goosebumps then.  I have goosebumps now, remembering.  I have had a blessed life in so many ways.

So I wasn’t surprised when I stepped away from my table today to admire a block that had ‘spoken’ to me the day before.DSCN7294This is from Charise – her version of Alice Brooks’ Crown of Thorns.  She calls it ‘Swirling Cross’ and I agree.  The irony escaped me until I realized that tomorrow is Maundy Thursday!DSCN7295I really love this block.  Always searching for a way to create circles WITHOUT having to fumble and pin and curse, this block offers the easy way out – paper piecing.  Charise is brilliant, but we all already knew this.  DSCN7284Another St Louis 16 block is in the works – The local fire company is raising money for a good cause, Wounded Warriors, and I want to be involved.  If I finish in time we can raffle this piece.  It would be so much easier if I did not have to sleep – just think of the projects I could complete!  Thankfully this quilt goes together more quickly than most.DSCN7286Economy blocks – what would a post be w/o them!!  DSCN7290Pale pink linen and 100% cotton shirting … it’s time to create some spring wardrobe pieces.  I love everything that FLAX and Eileen Fisher are showing this season and can afford little.  So I sew.  Recently a coworker asked me why.  It’s hard to define the range of responses that circle in my head – I sew because I must.  Let’s try that again.  I sew because I love the process.  I love the results.  When I am finished with a garment, I have an emotional connection to it.  I do not tire of it as I would something purchased at Ann Taylor.  I am connected to this piece that I have created – I have chosen the fabric, the threads, I have cut it out, sewn it together, and I will wear it until I am tired of it, or until it wears out!!!!  Can you say that about something purchased at Macys?

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murmuring

DSCN7263I really thought that I wanted to sew today!  I have a nice piece of white cotton with flocked polka dots for this blouse.  Why is it that all of the other semi-finished projects have voices? They were clamoring and carrying on all afternoon.DSCN7265First, it was the beaded necklace.  Having waited out most of the wintry months, it was more than ready for it’s debut.DSCN7266So pretty!  Yes, it’s time to finish this and wear it.  Moments later – another country was heard from -DSCN7273Kate Spain’s “Daydream” jellyroll is waiting to be fashioned into something splendid.  But since I’m not ready to ponder this design….DSCN7275I got my new table runner in ‘Sweet As Honey’ ready to bind.DSCN7276In knitting we call these ‘nupps’.  Stay tuned to see how much fun they can be when incorporated into a runner!  What shall we call them?DSCN7280Economy blocks …. DSCN7281Last, but certainly not least … I have been working on this rendition of Reflections that I discovered made by the talented Leanne of She Can QuiltDSCN7261Mine is morphing into something that I am very excited about.  I’ll show you the final results in a day or two.  Think: quilt murmuring …. not unlike the clouds of starlings that we are seeing rise up from the orchards.  I hope to do this phenomenon justice!  We will see.

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wishes

DSCN7258Standing back from the wall and squinting … I thought, “Lally would like this combo.” I remember her early quilts- great bursts of color, indicative of a life lived with joy and fullness and delight on so many levels.  I need an infusion of her spirit right now.  I’ll have it through an I.V. thank you very much.  Hurry up!

Gray describes the weather and my spirits.  Lunch with mom down by the water – a river spilling and frothing over the pilings – cold, heartless and menacing.  How to comfort an eighty five year old matriarch who is not looking for comfort?  Food is a start.  Sitting quietly in her front room and listening is another.  I am worn out.DSCN7256‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride’ – do you know that phrase?  My father was fond of it.  Here is my wish: that my family would become more of the self-healing type (like rotary cutting mats) and that we could all tumble into a caravan and take off for the ocean!  Lobster rolls all around! A life lived by the sea.DSCN7257Of course, I’d be in the front of the convoy – chugging along in my little Airstream.  There would be a dreamy wide bed to the rear, covered in white eiderdown, linen and many pillows.  Harley would have a good bed and a hooked rug and treats galore.  A little beaded lamp, a turquoise vintage refrigerator, a radio, my books and quilts, coffee maker and cherry covered curtains.

Excuse me, I need to go and buy a lottery ticket!

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ugh

In the middle of the night, awoken from a sound slumber, I discovered the worst kind of visitor – a stomach virus.  I will spare my readers the troubling details.  Suffice to say, I’ve had a low key kind of Saturday – one awash with weak tea and toast.  Did I mention the unspeakably ugly cold sore that accompanied my predawn distress?  It deserves its own zip code.  Enough said.DSCN7246There were some experimental blocks today – New York Beauties.  I truly love curves and circular patterns, but shy away from them.  I’ve decided that if I am competent enough to set in sleeves, then I can master curves in quilting.  Paper piecing helps.  And bobbles.DSCN7253Messing around with the color wheel and trying to combine low volumes with primary colors… more stretching and moving away from my comfort zone!DSCN7250I often think that my scraps are every bit as lovely as my blocks – sometimes more so!  Have to go back to bed now.  Here’s hoping that yours is a healthy virus-free weekend!

 

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cha-cha-cha-changes

I know it dates me, but I loved David Bowie and especially his song, ‘Changes’.  Remember the platform shoes?  The glittery makeup?  The wildly spiked hair?  He must seem pretty odd to today’s music lovers who have bands dressed in fox suits croaning “what does the fox say?”  (clears throat, with affect)  Things change.   Or do they?

My dear and only sibling has sold her house and is moving to the south.  My son is interviewing with a department in the south.  My daughter is determined to return to the south.  Maybe I should have entitled this post ‘the south’ instead of ‘changes’.  Of course we are not talking about one spot, we are talking about Savannah, GA, Austin, TX, and Naples, FL.

I am remembering that when I was young I also moved about.  First it was Ithaca, NY.  Then off to Laguna Beach, CA.  The Boston sirens sang and we moved to the north shore of Swampscott.  And then back to New York where our first home was built in horse country.  Now I live across the river in apple country. . . far, far from the south.  I’m trying to make sense of it all – wondering how I will bear to be apart from the people that I love.  When I need to wrap my head around my troubles, I usually find myself in the sewing studio.

There is something strangely comforting about cutting fabric into pieces and finding pleasing combinations when rejoined.  A scattered mind can be quieted by the repetition of sewing strips together – or by listening to the gentle hum of the machine and the hiss of the iron.  It’s no secret that I find solace in my sewing studio.DSCN7244DSCN7234DSCN7233I’ve had little use for words this weekend as I ponder these changes that are arriving, one after another.  I know that I will have to find peace with the decisions my loved ones are making.  But no one said that it would be easy!DSCN7236DSCN7240DSCN7239I leave you with two little blocks which are the beginning of a secret gift -DSCN7242And of course C (changes) is, inevitably, next up.

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honey

It was time to turn from winter projects to welcome spring.DSCN7205DSCN7211

A cheerful polka dot binding was just the right finishing touch for this patchwork.  Into the wash, the dryer and onto the bed!  I slept under it last night and dreamed of crimson tulips.DSCN7219The new DS fabrics were on display at the local fabric store and they asked politely, so I let them come home with me.DSCN7220DSCN7221DSCN7216My Sunday Morning top was finished and sandwiched together on Friday night.  I was pretty excited – so much so that I went ahead and started quilting.  And I quilted.  And the hour grew late.DSCN7218The following morning’s light revealed that I had done some significant wandering in my late night machine quilting.  As a result, the seam ripper and I spent many hours together.  Many many hours!DSCN7208DSCN7224My poor dog – he finally brought me his favorite toy.  He and I and ‘Bart’ took a nice long break and went outdoors to enjoy the warm air.  Harley had a good grooming and lots of romping.  And I cooked chicken livers for him before I marched back upstairs to the sewing room.DSCN7227DSCN7226DSCN7225This ‘Sweet As Honey’ line is ridiculously gorgeous.  A banner for the living room will be nice.  I cannot imagine that anything fashioned from this could be less than fantastic.  I admit to a tiny bit of experimentation ..DSCN7230I have to stop now in order to get the brisket in the pot.  There are soda breads waiting to be baked.  We are having a traditional Irish dinner, cabbage, potatoes and carrots included (maybe a parsnip of two).  Happy St Patrick’s Day to all who celebrate.

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vanilla

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DSCN7196DSCN7200The more I worked with this low volume quilt, the better I liked it.  It will be finished this weekend and then I will have to decide whether or not to list it in my Etsy shop.  I can imagine spending long afternoons with it in the hammock, accompanied by a good book!DSCN7192Spring is coming!  Don’t forget to turn your clocks forward tonight.

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stash

007Concentration this year will be upon the stash. Loving the stash. USING the stash. Being monogomous with the stash and avoiding flirtation with new fabric lines. Like most quilters I know, my stash is ridiculously large. I’m placing it on a diet.

The little quilt shown above was pieced together at least 10 to 15 years ago.  When I look at it today the term ‘low volume’ comes to mind.  I have always liked the fabrics that one might consider the shrinking violets of the stash.  Please don’t call them pastels, oh no!  Pastel brings to mind the sweatsuits of the 80′s …. lavender, pink, baby blue.  We’ll agree to stick with ‘low volume’ yes?memorial day sewing 016There is something very liberating about using pure white with cream – breaking the old rules appeals to me very much.  Because I was taught by a strictly traditional quilter, some of these habits are hard to bend.  Whenever in doubt, I refer to Suzuko Koseki’s work.

bully nap

Ahhhh – happiness is quilting or thinking about quilting.  Naps are good, too.

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busy

Sometimes it’s necessary to find daisies in February.DSCN7170Sometimes a new quilting book comes along and you MUST have a copy -DSCN7171Sometimes you rediscover a book in your library that you need to revisit -DSCN7173And then there’s that pattern that you NEED to make for Adeline -DSCN7172And between the cooking and the cleaning and the quilting and the knitting you begin to understand where in the hell your weekend went to!DSCN7174A new book to read -DSCN7176A new hat to knit -DSCN7175Gorgeous new stitch markers to try out – and Oh my!  A guild meeting on the horizon …DSCN7177As IF I could make only one – a solitary block?  It’s not in my quilting DNA!DSCN7178DSCN7179And I keep plugging along on my Anna Maria Horner quilt which has captured my heart.DSCN7181

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littles

DSCN7162DSCN7161DSCN7160So I just kept on going because the snow was falling (again) and there was snoring in the quiet house and the aroma of meatballs simmering.DSCN7163Of course I have my favorites and the list grows!  Thinking ahead, the task of paper removal on the blocks will be impressive.  DSCN7164DSCN7165The Economy Blocks – how I love them!  When other projects are not going well, if I have quilter’s ‘Block’ (the terrible irony of the term!) or if I’ve just completed something and need a break … they are the perfect stand ins.  Oh, I HAVE a completion, but Suz, you cannot read on.  Promise?DSCN7153Fresh out of the dryer – soon to be packaged up and sent off!DSCN7159DSCN7156DSCN7158Finishing a piece is a happy event.

I have some serial serious knitting waiting for me this week.  I am hoping that we will have sunny days because the yarn is inky blue and difficult to manage with poor lighting.  I have been unable to work with it at night so lunch time knitting will become premium time.

Bloggers in the northeast are longing for spring.  As a gardener, I find that I need this wintry break in order to rest and restore and reunite with my indoor passions.  Long snowy days are made for seed ordering and dreaming about the placement of peonies while working on quilts and such.  Spring will come, she always does.  Meanwhile, I plan to enjoy the whitened wonderland that is my backyard.  Snow is the perfect backdrop for the scarlet cardinal and the sassy bluejay coats – no other element can showcase them in such brilliant ways.  People look at me with curiosity when I speak of my love for this season.  Lately, and especially after the last 14 inches of the white stuff, I’ve learned to zip it.  No one is amused.

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