Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Brightening up the music room ... spring visitor ... another project ...

My music room walls are pale blue, the ceiling is white. The wall behind the piano is dark blue, but there is little of it that is painted as there is a double-door closet in the middle of the wall. All the art in this room is one of two themes: winter/snow or birds. I'd been thinking that having looked at the blue walls for 4 years (yes! almost exactly... just a few more days to the anniversary) I wanted to brighten it up a little bit. So I visited my stash of finished quilts and found just the one; it works perfectly! All the color I could want now drapes the corner of the room I look at when practicing piano...

Happy, happy!

The snow is gone. There has been goodly amounts of water flowing down the mountain sides and Halls Brook has been roaringly alive the past few weeks.

Well! March seemed to take an eternity this year, but it is past and we are now enjoying April showers. There has been a good deal of mud around, but the glimse of greenery--and even some flowers!--shooting up out the ground tempers one's feeling about the dirt. The Fritillaria are coming up for their second year! I remember reading that they had trouble surviving our New England winters, but some bit of luck has sustained these two. Also seen peeping above ground are daffodils and crocuses. The crocuses have bloomed, the daffodils are a ways off still.

The ritual of bringing the bird feeders in at evening time has begun. A clamor on the deck last week alerted me that the winter pajama party is over for the bears. She (or he) has grown this past year--if this is the same bear that was around last spring. It was drizzling rain when I went out to take a few pictures: I was on the deck, she was below, enjoying the contents of what used to be a bird feeder. It made me a little nervous that she went around to the other side of the house and poked her head into the kitchen entry room. Oh dear. I opened the kitchen door and made some sound; they don't like hearing human voices. She backed out quickly and went along her way.

I have started another quilt, and truth be told, I don't like to have multiple projects (of the same type) going at the same time. I like to bring a project to completion before taking on another. However, this quilt will be made of wool applique and the technique is totally unlike piecing cotton, and lends itself to being worked on at a different time of day than piecing. Therefore, I consider it a good idea to get started. I like piecing in the morning or afternoon when there is plenty of light. I like hand sewing in the evening, when it is quiet and the day's labors are done. The wool applique will all be hand sewn. I'm following a pattern; there will be multiple blocks in the finished quilt, including one large central block. This is my first block in progress:

You can see the basting thread (white) on the pieces I have not yet button-hole stitched into place. This is a large project and will take some time. I found the pattern at a quilt show over the weekend. A very inspiring show, it was.

Work will begin soon on the kitchen entry and it's only 4 days away from my 4 year anniversary moving here. Another post on that to come.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Secret Message ...

J&B I am unable to send email to your address! Will investigate to see if I can discover what's behind this mystery!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Progress ...

Many good things are happening. Music wise, I've made much technical progress with my left shoulder, ergo, my left hand is better positioned these days to execute musical requirements both at the piano and cello. It makes me happy to progress... at least to feel--subjectively--that I am progressing. It's such a joy, and yet at times so gruelling. They go hand in hand these two. I'm currently on a Debussy kick at the piano. I do love his music so. I have 2 of the 4 pieces in Suite Bergamasque pretty much down: The Prelude and Clair de Lune. Now to get the other 2 in my hands.

Suite Bergamasque played by one of my very favorite pianists of all time, Claudio Arrau:

Speaking of Debussy, we had a lovely Debussy sort of day yesterday... very atmospheric. I love these dreamy, fantastic, real yet almost illusory days:

[I'm expecting a bear to walk out of the mist any day now. Temps rose to the low 70s the other day!!! Their hibernation must be almost over. Many turkeys around the place this week (present company excepted!), and many, many birds making an appearance in the yard. Saw my first robin of the year!]

New topic. I attended my first quilter's guild meeting this evening. The Heartfelt Quilter's Guild based in Rumney, the town adjoining ours to the north. It was great! The guest speaker was Linda Baxter Lasco and she spoke of her journey and the many quilts she's made over the years. There was a show-and-tell from other members who have recently completed quilts; all the usual structured meeting points of address: treasurer's report, old business, new business, etc.; and pizza and a variety of delectable desserts. I'm very happy to have finally joined.

New topic again. Several wash cloths finished and a face towel under way on the knitting needles:

Oh! And the 8-shaft loom is almost all threaded for my next project. This picture was taken the other day shortly after I had started threading. Well under way now.

So I took several (four, to be exact) tumbles (fell flat on my back to be exact) the past 3 weeks. Ever since we passed the equinox, yet continued with winter weather activity! Twice, while shoveling and they were OK because I slipped on ice that was under the snow and my fall was padded by the snow. Once at the top of the deck stairs which was fine--more or less except that I hit my head against the rail post. Haven't done that since I was a kid, so the trip to nostalgia was nice. Finally, once again at the top of the deck stairs. This slip on the slush--which compacted when I stepped on it and made a most slippery surface--caused me to land on my back against the stair tread. I knew when I fell that something about it had a little more "umph" than the other falls. I didn't land squarely against my spine, it was a fall to the right side of my back. Now that the general discomfort and, yes, pain has subsided, I am left thinking that I might have cracked my lowest rib, in the back. I've had broken ribs before (doctors did it, not me!) so I'm familiar with the feeling. Will be making a visit to the doctor's soon just to confirm and to make sure all my bits and pieces are on the right track!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lot's of quilt activity ....

I had sent the scrappy, basic but utilitarian top off to the long-arm quilter's a few weeks ago. That happens to be my local quilt shop: North Country Quilters. They have a very long long-arm quilting machine and I've been more than happy with the results. (There is a picture of the long-arm machine on their web site.) For this quilt I chose a pattern called "Aspen Leaf" and it worked out very nicely. The top's piecing is all rectangular, angular, and straight lines, but "Aspen Leaf" has curves and they create a wonderful contrast. I chose to fill the quilt with wool--utilitarian requirement for the winters up here. I like cotton filling for spring/fall quilts but since I made this one quite large (80"x100") I want to get good use of it during the frigid months between November and--as present weather can attest: March! Indeed, any notion that March might be a spring month up here really needs to be dismissed. We may have reached the equinox, but there is some lag in play which keeps spring at bay. We are expecting another snow storm tomorrow into Saturday!

It's OK, rather. I am content to know that the day lilies, which I bred and raised into what will be their 3rd year this summer, are safe and sound (I hope) under the protective coat of snow. This should be the year I discover what sort of blossoms my handy dabbing between stamens and pistils has produced. I went on this hemerocallis sexcapade at the urging of my dear friend Bobbie--a day lily hybridizer on Cape Ann--whose garden is a glimpse of heaven. I can't remember the parents-to-be of my babies, but I'm pretty sure it's written down somewhere around here. If I get good blossoms, it will be my honor and privilege to name the new hybrid. But that's jumping the gun... it won't be known until mid summer if indeed I'll be handing out cigars.

Oh that's right, I was talking about the basic, scrappy quilt that is now quilted and bound. I recall the day I brought it into the shop to pick out a quilting pattern, filler, backing material, and thread. Another customer in the store, upon seeing the top, exclaimed that the colors "popped". They popped. I remember when colors didn't "pop", and seem to think this usage of the word came into being on television arts and crafts programs within the last few decades. The word in this context makes me cringe. Understatement. It makes me want to pop someone ... well never mind. I shall not allow violent thoughts to intrude on my blog! But the sentiment was kind and I appreciate it; and she got away unscathed.

It took well nigh 400" of binding to finish the quilt. I make my own. A nice, uncomplicated, relaxing endeavor. I sew the first edge of the binding onto the quilt with the machine, but then fold it over and finish the second side by hand using an invisible "ladder" stitch. I enjoy this bit of hand sewing. I leave it till late evening when the day's work is done, turn on a creative television program or put on a video and stitch away. It took 4 evenings to finish.

I'm very much pleased with the result. It's going to be a useful quilt; it wasn't hard to piece; and the yellow/orange/red warm colors create vibrancy with the green/blue/purple colors. They ... No! I shall not use dreaded "p" word! ... they create striking contrast.

The "Aspen Leaf" quilting pattern is a nice contrast to the lines of the piecing:

I am currently binding another quilt, one that was finished and quilted some time ago but for some reason and another never got it's binding. When that's done, I have still another quilt to bind.

Progress is proceeding well on the "Celtic Solstice" quilt and I expect to finish piecing it sometime next month. I am hoping. Another post to come on that.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Moving right along ...

The scrap quilt--the diversion--was finished last week. It's off to the long arm quilters at the moment. Since I forgot to snap a picture of it all sewn together with it's borders, it'll have to wait till it comes back. The Celtic quilt is now back in play. I don't think I ever showed any progress pictures, so here's a few pics of some pieces and believe me, there are a lot more pieces to go.

I think I'm ready to tackle it once again. Making the large, not too difficult scrap quilt has put me in the mood.

The "big honkin' shawl' is done! (Except for some loose ends which I'll weave in this weekend). The time has come to stop referring to it as the "big honkin' shawl'. The word "honkin'" isn't suitable now that it has been blocked into it's fine finished state. "honkin'" worked when it was a mass of unruly stitches; now it's a refined shawl. There were close to 900 stitches around the last row. Holy moly, those rows took time to knit! Much pleased with the result. It measures approximately 62" square.

(Click pictures to make them bigger.)

The beads that I wanted to use for the edge did not work out, so instead I used small seed beads. But they are red. I'm just as happy with this result. Now that I see it, I think the original beads would have been too large. I'll save them for another project.

With that massive amount of knitting off the needles, I've decided to take it easy for a bit and I'm knitting up some simple, yet elegant, wash cloths. I'm planning to make soap again soon (my neighbor and her friend want to learn so we're going to make a fun project of it) and isn't it nice to have lovely new wash cloths to go with some lovely new soaps? I bought new scents this week: "Sweet Pea and Ivy", "Sandalwood", and "Jean Paul Gaultier" (A spin off of the pricey cologne. I bought a bottle some years back; one of my favorite modern colognes.)

This is an inexpensive cotton I found at Walmart. Perfect for wash cloths, on size 7 needles, knit corner-to-corner.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A diversion ...

The Celtic quilt requiring much focused attention is on hold for a bit. The dimensions of my currently finished blocks are causing concern. Somewhat skeptical of how to proceed, so I've shelved it for the duration and will re-tackle it after a good rest hopefully restores my faith and vision. Have offers from the local quilt shop to present my queries and will most likely take them up on the offer. What to do when one's blocks come out smaller than expected?

So in the meantime I decided it would behoove me to work on something less challenging, and fulfilling. And that's exactly how I've proceeded. Found another lovely pattern in my favorite book and went ahead and worked on it as a scrappy quilt. The pattern is less than pronounced seeing how it's made of scraps, yet still, I am very fond of it. Scrap quilts, I dare say, are my favorite: Something from scraps. How perfectly delightful!

I have sewn all the pieces so far on my 1878 Wheeler & Wilson treadle sewing machine, but now that I will be assembling these pieces into yet larger structures and then gathering those into a quilt, I may switch to the modern--yet deficient--machine. If only because it's much faster. For shame I should succumb to such trivial concerns! I have all the time in the world! ... I haven't quite decided yet.

I laid the pieces out on the living room floor this morning to ensure a somewhat balanced--and correctly oriented--placement. Picture herewith. All that remains is assembling the pieces into blocks, blocks into rows, rows into quilt, and then 3 (most likely) borders in green, blue, and purple.

I DO love scrappy quilts.

If you tilt your head back and squint you may be able to discern the pattern that is partially obscured by the use of various tints and shades of scraps.

Sharing a poem ...

It's been a while since I shared a poem, but I recently came upon one which must be shared.

By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesnt interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if have been opened
by life's betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn't interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.