Thursday, May 21, 2015

The siren call of lavender

    Last week,  I went to New Haven, CT to help my sister in law pack up and get ready to move to Rochester, NY as she has retired from Yale. Part of the deal was taking a lot of stuff to Goodwill from her basement and closets. Upon entering the store, perched on outdated electronics rather precariously and unceremoniously was some lavender metal. I was drawn to it and saw it was a Kenmore machine. Only the foot controller was with it, missing the bobbin case. However, it just looked like it had been a beloved machine. It was so attractive among the old VCR, lamp and other electronic detritus. It seemed foolish to even think about it. I found the model number, 158.504, and turned the data on my phone and looked to ebay to see if a bobbin case was available. There was.
      I walked all over the store, but the machine was begging to be rescued. I forced myself to leave with my husband and sister in law and bemoaned the lavender machine all the way back to her house. Since I had a headache, I took a nap and while I was sleeping, my husband went back and got it for $20.00. It was there when I woke up. I was afraid to plug it in in case something nasty transpired. I did not think burning down my sister in law's condo a week before it closed was a good idea. I found the manual online and downloaded it. 
     When we returned to Buffalo, I oiled it all and then started it up. Perfect running. Now I am just waiting for the bobbin case to see how it stitches. I polished it a bit, waiting for the case. The lavender is just so lovely, so real retro. I could not resist the siren song of the lavender Kenmore.

Just the condition I found it

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I'm Sarah's guest today!

Double tulip from my garden

     Sarah asked for guest bloggers for her Hands2Help challenge this year and I volunteered again. Writing directions is not one of my strong points, so I needed help and editing. I think that the Disappearing 9 Patch that self sashes is a quick and beautiful quilt to make. I am honored to be a guest blogger and pray someone will benefit and make some gorgeous quilts!
My garden for a few short days before the heat

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Fading Charms still growing

    Using leader and enders from my other quilt sewing, the borders are getting bigger. I have to add white all around again, a row of single squares, another white, white and color squares at least.

Ah-mazing workshop

      When reading Sujata Shah's blog, I noticed she was going to be teaching in Ithaca, NY. My sister in law lives in Ithaca. She quilts. She has a guest room. So I went. Sujata's book is Cultural Fusion Quilts, which is a great book to use. You cannot find a nicer woman, so willing to give personal attention and design help. She explains things very well. It was such a joy to take a class with her. I can't wait to dive into making quilts this way. It seems to resonate with how I like to work. It is not improvisation- it is using a block structure and bending it. Color is very important. Her Indian background provides a lot of her inspiration. Think Indian colors, Gee's Bend ideas, and tradtional blocks playing along with each other.  Here are my blocks of learning techniques from the weekend:
Lattice top, Windmill bottom
Peppermint Pinwheel plus wonky flying geese plus endless mountains border plus wonky quarter square triangles

Rail Fence

Zig Zag and Crazy Quilt blocks

Crossroads block

Couple of finishes

     Among all the other things I am trying to move ahead on, finished the binding and everything on a Laurel Burch jungle panel and another exploding squares comfort quilt. Both long armed by me (not great).

Just needs sleeve to go to grandkids

Friday, May 1, 2015

Quilt Story from Paducah

     Quiltweek Thurday night in Paducah, the Broadway Methodist Church had a dinner they called fine dining. Was it ever. Cloth tablecloths and napkins, beautiful china, flowers, and such awesome food. They use this as a fundraiser. The whole hall was draped with antique quilts. We had a chicken breast stuffed with cranberries and a chardonnay sauce, green beans wrapped in bundles with bacon and baked, roasted different colored potatoes, homemade rolls, and the most exquisite chocolate pie I ever had. We had to try hard to mind our manners as we wanted to pick up the plates and lick them. Unbelievable. 
Quilts made for the church

    After the dinner, they held a story time about quilts hung in their sanctuary that evening. One man told most of the stories, except for this quilt below- a narrow quilt made for a Graham double bed. One very frail elderly lady came to the microphone. She said her kids would kill her if they knew she was out. She said she was compelled to tell its story. She was not a quilter. 
    She first told how her husband and her had attended the church for many years- from the destructive flood in 1937 to the opening of a plant in town in 1951 that brought in such an influx of people that the infrastructure couldn't handle it. (I looked it up later, it was a uranium enrichment plant- Yikes!). After attending services Sunday morning, her husband would travel to country churches Sunday evenings where they held big suppers and sold quilts to raise money. Her husband loved quilts and bought them. They had chests of quilts. She mentioned a Graham bed they had which was narrower than most. (I have not been able to find any info on them or a photo).
    When he became very ill, he asked his wife to get this quilt out of the chests and put it on their bed. It is not a masterpiece quilt or anything the Quilt Museum would keep. It is a humble fabric quilt made lovingly by someone to fit a particular bed. He slept clutching it tightly. When he became so ill that Hospice was called in and had a Hospice bed in the living room, he insisted that quilt be with him all the time. One night, the nurse woke the woman and she went to see her husband, who had just passed away, comfortably tucked in this quilt. Kleenex time. She was so determined to tell us all this story and I saw the relief on her face when she was done.
    Really, this to me is what quilts are about, what inspires me. They are a personal hug. I will never make it in a big quilt show, but I am privileged beyond measure to have had cancer patients find comfort in the bits of cloth I put together for them.  I made quilts for all my family. As much as I love art quilts and such, this story is my homebase for quilting.
    I have a couple of story quilts of my own made by my mother in law. Sometime, I will share their stories.

The quilt for a Graham narrow double bed

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

More from Paducah, the spoils

     There were quality vendors and fabric to be had in Paducah during Quiltweek. It was hard to decide what to buy or not buy.
Fabric from Paducah
       I got the bright charm packs from Shannon of FabricsNQuilts. The Kona solids, bought from Hancock's of Paducah, are for a class I am taking this weekend with Sujata Shah in Ithaca, NY with the Tompkins County Quilt Guild. The black and whites are from Quilt in a Day. Hope to use them in my Flowering Snowball Quilt. And the gray is for a pair of pillowcase cuffs. I left so much fabric behind. Some stores bring fabric to the empty storefronts and sell mass quantities.
Hancock's of Paducah, just a smidge portion of the store

Hancock's of Paducah, aisles of fabric by manufacturer,
just one corner

Hancock's of Paducah, warehouse portion with bins of precuts

Warehouse with kits, most made and hanging to see

Notions from Paducah
      Bought my favorite piecing thread from YLI, a glazed thin weight cotton- super for lots of seams like my made fabric. Also, their clear monofilament is great for top stitching my bindings down. It doesn't stretch and is thick enough to see to thread the needle, unlike Monopoly.
      The numbered pins will help when I am taking rows and columns off the design wall. The Basix template works on 2 1/2" squares to make neat blocks, the Kai scissors are a smaller version of what I bought in Houston (love the Kai- light, sharp, great action), and Leader Grips for the edges of a quilt on the longarm instead of a single point clamp. The book is one I have wanted for years and I got for $5 at the hurt book sale.
      This may not seem like a lot, but when you have to carry everything with you all day, it was the best I could do.