Sunday, January 31, 2010

Apple Quilt and Bread

It's been a busy weekend. In addition to the usual washing and cooking, I've had time to put some borders on the quilt top. Sorry for the horrible photo, my camera was in the car and I obviously didn't give it enough time to come to room temperature before I photographed the quilt on my bed. I would go do it again, but since the bed is now occupied, I'm not sure that he would think it needs to be re-photographed tonight. These are the letters that I did for the border. I think I'm going to really like them. I have run out of border fabric, that's what I get for making it up as I go along, and will have to get more tomorrow, so the top border isn't done yet, but the others are. I'm binding it in strips of all the colors. The colors in the quilt are actually the same as in the quilted coasters that I made out of the scraps. I made the coasters big, 6x6, because they are for my big mugs that I drink tea from, and as you can see the coasters are pretty colorful.

These are the coasters, undone, I'm binding them tonight. The binding is slower because I do it by hand, so it takes longer, but it looks much better than if I do it by machine. I machine lettered Eat Michigan Apples on one and One Every Day on the other.
This was my other project today. I have never made bread before by hand. The bread maker doesn't count. But this morning, as I was laying in bed, I decided I wasn't getting any younger and I wasn't sure what I was waiting for, so these are the unbaked loaves ready to go into the oven. Making bread is one of those things. You know, the ones that you don't do because you are positive they won't work. I have always regarded people who can make bread as magicians, more or less. I tried to make something about 37 or 38 years ago that had yeast in it and the yeast didn't rise. Since then, I have been sure that I couldn't make breads with yeast. It turns out that I can. One of the baked loaves was eaten with the potato soup that we had for dinner and the other is on the counter waiting for breakfast. It's hard to make bread that isn't good if it's got butter on and it is just out of the oven, but it turned out really well, so I'll try it again, maybe next weekend.
And, I'm going to re-evaluate that list of things that I can't do.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gee's Bend

Ok, so it's a good thing that I did not set a goal about blogging. It turns out that I don't really have that much to say on a daily basis.

Last Saturday, I visited the Flint institute of Arts to see the Gee's Bend quilts. Very interesting from a cultural perspective. These 4 generations of African American women quilted at night after working in fields and taking care of families in order to keep their families warm in houses without heat. They used what they had, recycling old work clothes, dresses, whatever, into quilts in what is now called a liberated quilting style. The community was geographically very isolated for a long time and some of these quilts were done in the days before they had TV, so there was little else to do in the evening, so they sang hymns and quilted. Some of the quilts are very striking patterns with strong color differences, like abstract paintings. The quilting is fairly large stitches and not terribly even. They looked like the quilts that I remember as a kid in Ohio when I went to visit my grandparents. There was always an old quilt on the bed that I slept in. I'm not an artist of course, and I'm still trying to decide exactly why they are art, hmmm, not sure, but they are memorable. And as I said, the quilts and accompanying video were very interesting from a cultural and social perspective, so I was glad that I went. The stories were intriguing and seemed indicative of the 30s and 40s in a small community. I'm not sure what makes these quilts different from other utilitarian quilts that were made from recycled clothes and fabric. Here's a link to some of the quilts if you are interested.
My quilt guild is going as a group next month to see the exhibit. I'll be interested in their comments.

I've started another quilt, using red, golds, and cream fabrics, some with apples and apple blossoms on them, others with the names of apple varieties. I'm trying some free form pieced lettering to go with it in the borders, which I haven't done before, and I think it's going to look pretty cool. I love the idea of being able to personalize quilts with words. I'm also going to try a new way of machine quilting that I recently read about in a magazine. When I tried to machine quilt before, I couldn't keep the different layers of fabric together evenly and the sewing always puckered at the end of the seams and where I crossed other seams. The new way calls for using a spray basting product to layer the top, batting, and backing together, so the fabric layer acts as a single piece and won't slip. This will be a good quilt to try it out on.

I've also got the ideas together, and most of the fabric purchased, for 2 new quilts, both applique and large. I'm not going to show photos of these as they are intended to be surprises, but I am going to start on them very soon.

Also thanks to R, P, and K, for joining me a couple weeks ago for a long quilting weekend at R's cabin up north. It was wonderful to have K cook, and to be able to just quilt for 3 days. We bought fabric on the way up, compared notes, debated color and placement, ripped out seams, had 3 machines going, did some hand applique, read some quilt books, and in general, had a blast. We are thinking of making it at least an annual event. So in retrospect, I guess it was a fairly productive January.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year to all. It's a new year and I'm back to blogging. And though the holidays are over and the family and friends have gone back to their own lives, we have been so fortunate that all our kids were together, H's sister's family could join us, and my sisters were both here for a few days. Family is good. The best gift is that everyone is happy and healthy. However the video of my sister's family purchasing toys for Toys for Tots as gifts for our family was very cute and such a good idea.

My crafting goals for the new year are to complete a pieced Michigan map quilt for my son, the appliqued Civil War Bride's quilt for me, and a (as yet undecided pattern) wedding quilt for my stepson and his soon-to-be-bride. I also heard the other day that another wedding date is being planned, so that quilt will be on the agenda soon too. I have plans to take a few more classes at the local quilt shops and intend to participate in the 2 workshops that my quilt guild has scheduled. I've also got a couple basket classes planned and my friends and I are doing a quilting retreat at R's cabin in January. I also want to make time for the art guild and garden meetings. Of course, when spring arrives, I get to plant my new annual garden that my family put in for me last fall. It will be spectacular. Lots of color and texture and will provide inspiration for more colorful quilts and baskets of natural materials.

I made a couple things over the holidays, but since they aren't in the mail until next week, I'm reserving the photos til later.