Friday, December 31, 2010

One Last Look at Christmas 2010

Giving two parties before Christmas, getting ready to spend it in California, doing the last-minute Christmas projects and gift-buying--all of these meant that I never posted about our Christmas decor!  This is our second Christmas in our new house, and I think I duplicated what I did last year.  Pictures are below.  After tomorrow, all will be put up--I am writing this on New Year's Eve.

This tree was new last year.
It's one of those "skinny" trees,
 pre-lighted.  Since it's
up on the bridge on the second
floor I used out-sized balls and kept
the color scheme to silver and white
and on it put all the clear glass,
acylic, and crystal ornaments.

Our dining room.  Every year
I put all the glass and crystal
candlesticks, trees, and
angels along the glass
centerpiece.  When all
the candles are lit and
the room is darkened,
it looks very pretty.
On the hutch in the breakfast area,
at the end of our kitchen, I always
arrange all the various Christmas decor
items that Supper Club folks
have given us.
The Santas are always on the
mantel.  Bob and I bought these years
This is our "main" tree.  It is located on the
first floor, in front of the window,
in Bob's study.  Pre-lighted, artificial,
pretty old now, but still in good condition.

Mother gave Bob the big Santa years
ago.  He is often on the coffee
table, but this year, I put
him on the sofa table for
awhile, and then moved him
to the sugar chest you
can see against the windows.  You
can see another Santa there, too--a
Scottish Santa that I got for Bob once.

A green and a red-dressed Santa, part of the
mantel display.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Embroidery Basket for Lia

I bought this lovely old wicker basket at an antique store once for $10.  I've never done anything with it, but I knew that someday I'd find the perfect use for it.  At last, I've found that perfect use.  Granddaughter Lia (10 in January) watched me embroider when we visited them in October.  She was so interested that I gave her a quick lesson.  In fact, I posted a blog about this on October 19th, complete with pictures of Lia and the snail she drew and then embroidered during that visit.

I asked Lia at the time if she'd like me to give her more lessons, when we returned at Christmas.  She was most enthusiastic!  And so I've had fun lately assembling items to go into her embroidery basket.  Here are some pictures:

Here's everything placed
inside the basket.  There's plenty
of room for Lia and me to
add more fabric of her
choice for future projects.

Here are the contents of the basket spread out:  books, floss,
two packaged kits (one with the called-for floss included),
a hoop, a wonderful buy on DMC floss that includes 26
skeins, a bobbin winder, box for the bobbins,
needles of several types, felt squares,
a retracting measuring tape.  She has small scissors already
in the sewing kit I put together for her several years ago.
No thimble!  I use one, but I've yet to be able to
persuade a child to try one!

Here are the books I bought for her.  I think
the one called EMBROIDERY FOR KIDS
is the best, most complete, one.  The
other two, however, both include some
excellent project ideas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Supper Club Christmas Party

My husband and I are so fortunate to belong to a supper club that has been meeting on and off since the early 70s!  More "on" than "off", though twice the group dwindled and disbanded.  Since probably the early 80s, though, these friends, some couples from the very beginning, others being added later, have met continuously.  The host always provides the main course, and then others sign up to bring appetizers, before-dinner drinks, salad, vegetable, or dessert.  The couple who last hosted gets a break and brings only bread!  Each couple brings their own wine.

Normally in December we dress up and meet at a nice restaurant.  But this year we decided to try having the meal catered and to hold it at Rosemary's house.  She has a new dining table, around which all of us will fit--now 13 members.  Another tradition is the exchanging of small Christmas gifts, always one of the fun highlights of the evening.  Here are some pictures:

All seated around the table--only our hostess and the photographer Vern are missing!

Seated:  Dave & Faith; Preston & Genie
Standing:  Vern & Martie; Rosemary; Bob & Alice, Ray & Jo;
Steve & Sharon

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010--Michigan--Part Two

 Both of our daughters and their families started a new Christmas tradition a few years ago.  One of Santa's elves hides in a different place every night, and the next morning the children race around, looking for him.
On the evening before December 1st, I read Dawson and Malcolm the book that cleverly explains this tradition.  Another habit of ours is for the grandparents to give the grandchildren their presents early, on the alternate years when we spend Thanksgiving with them.  One present that we gave the boys, which they particularly loved, were snow globe night lights.  Below are some pictures of the boys with their new night lights.  Also, below the night light pictures are my promised pictures of Ace and Twist, as well as a photo of Scott with his broken leg!  Too, one picture of Malcolm after the first soccer game we attended, the one his team won so handedly that we quit keeping score!

Malcolm with his Xmas tree night light

Dawson with the snow man
night light

The very sweet, very elderly
border collie Twist--Rob's beloved

A victorious Malcolm after his
soccer game

Scott, his broken leg, and the usually
very rambunctios, very lovable Ace, a
Labradoodle, who will be 2 years old in March, on
Dawson's 7th birthday.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010--Michigan--Part One

The skies in Michigan in the winter are often gray and overcast.  But the Monday after Thanksgiving we awoke to clear skies and a beautiful sunrise.  I am a sucker for taking sunrise and sunset pictures, as my
followers can no doubt surmise, given the picture I've chosen to headline this blog!

But now on to Thanksgiving.  We had a delicious meal and a lovely day.  Our son Rob from St. Louis, and his dog Twist, joined our daughter Susan, son-in-law Scott, and grandsons Malcolm and Dawson for the holiday.   Below are a few pictures from Thanksgiving Day.  Soon I'll post another blog with more
doings from my week in Michigan, that will include pictures of the other two important members of the family present on this occasion:  Rob's border collie Twist and the Gaynor/Baird's young Labradoodle Ace!  If I can get it from Susan, I'll also include a picture of the photographer, absent in the photos below--me!

Granddaddy carves the turkey, supervised
by Susan.

Malcolm, Dawson, Susan, Scott
Uncle Rob at the end of the table,
Malcolm, Dawson, Susan, Scott, and Granddaddy.
You can clearly see our delicious menu:
turkey, two kinds of dressing, green beans, mashed
potatoes, and rolls!  All very yummy.  When we went
around the table, from youngest to oldest, saying
what we were thankful for, both of the Gaynor boys
said "our family."  Son Rob said, "My mom's dressing!"

Dawson (6)
and Malcolm (9), admiring the pumpkin,
pecan, and buttermilk pies!  Susan
made the pecan and buttermilk
pies "from scratch."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Festival Quilts--Especially for Jo, Sharon, and Rosemary!

My friends Jo, Sharon, and Rosemary share my passion for blue and white china.  (We often threaten to "borrow" something blue and white from one another's homes--borrow permanently, that is!)  I've admitted to this passion in my "About Me" at the right, where I explain the "Alice" wall hanging.  A quilt in Houston made me think these friends.  It was in a section I almost skipped--the quilts in "Merit Hand Quilting."  Having long ago abandoned hand quilting, I thought that was one I could pass by.  But then this quilt caught my eye!  Not only is it totally hand quilted, and beautifully and intricately done, but it features blue and white vases and pitchers, all different, each holding a lovely appliqued bouquet.  The containers were obviously designed by the quilter and carefully constructed and appliqued, not an easy task with those delicate handles on many!  The flowers are hand appliqued.  So above is that gorgeous quilt, which as you see won a blue ribbon, and below, some close-up views of it:
This is a close-up of the lovely border design.

Here you can see close-up views of
the variously-designed containers. 
I studied each one to choose my
favorite, and this one won--perhaps
because I so love tulips!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

International Quilt Festival and Kaffe Fassett

One of my true heroes in the quilting world is Kaffe Fassett.  I won't repeat his biography here; you can read it at the link.  He himself doesn't sew quilts, but he designs them.  He also designs out-of-this-world fabric which his able associates use to make his quilts.   This year in Houston there was a special exhibit of his quilts from one of his latest books called "Simple Shapes, Spectacular Quilts."  This was one of the first exhibits that we saw, and we returned to it several times.  I have many Fassett fabrics; enough, in fact, for two quilts.  I also own many of his books and am eager to get his latest.  Someday I will make these quilts for which I have the fabric--soon, I hope!  Below are some of the pictures of Fassett's spectacular quilts from Houston's Festival.  For some reason, I didn't always take a picture of the whole quilt.  I regret that!  I suppose I chiefly took close-ups as a reminder of how simply many of them are constructed.  Fassett's designs are an outstanding example of letting the fabrics themselves be the stars of the quilt:

This diamond quilt demonstrates the "simple shapes" principle.  The spectacular
nature of the quilt comes, of course, from the spectacular fabrics.

Here's a close-up which better shows his
fabrics, as well as the way this quilt is constructed.
No doubt, after "framing" the diamond-shapes, you sew
this quilt together in diagonal rows.  But this is a guess on
my part!

Again, simple shapes--framed squares, with an interesting and intricate sashing and cornerstones.

This shows the myriad of fabrics Fassett uses in a quilt, and the variety of those
fabrics.  I love the pinwheel cornerstones!

I love the "Indian Blanket" look to this quilt.

Circles, a simple shape, perhaps, but not so simple
to construct!  I'm sorry I took only close-ups of this, so
you can't get the full effect of this one, which I believe is
called Bicycle Wheels!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More Festival Quilts

This pink ribbon winner (honorable mention) had all sorts of charming
farm animals.  See the close-up of the dog below!
A friend expressed that she didn't care for animal portraits rendered in fabric.  I think she said that no cloth portrait could do justice to an animal.  Well, I hope to dissuade her with these animals in quilts that I particularly liked at the recent International Quilt Festival!
I thought the dog was particularly well-done.
I was most impressed with this cat, because NOTHING is quite as hard to render in
fabric as a black animal! 

And now my favorite--a well-deserved blue ribbon winner!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Easy Christmas Stockings!

My new quilting bee met at my house this week, and Rita showed us how to make Christmas stockings.  I mentioned this to a quilting and blogging friend, and she suggested I post the directions.  So here goes!  Thanks to Rita for the clear directions.  And I believe she got them herself from yet another person!

I use the larger rotary cutter
for the long straight edges of the
stocking and then switch to
the smaller one for the curved
I don't know how I can duplicate the pattern here on this blog, but it is easy enough to draw off a stocking pattern.  Ours is 16" long from the top cuff area to the lowest part of the foot; the cuff area is 8" wide; and from toe to heel measures 11".  You can get 2 stockings, front and back, from 1/2 yard of fabric, if the fabric doesn't have a directional print.  You need a bit more for 2 if the print is directional, as my snowman fabric is in the demonstration photos below.  For the lining, you need the same amount.

Cutting:  Cut 2 from the lining fabric, 1 front, and 1 back (these can be different fabrics or the same, as my snowman stocking is).  Also cut one cuff 16" x 8".  And cut one loop 8" x 2 1/2".  I used the lining fabric for the cuff on the snowman stocking. 


Here the lining and the
stocking fabrics have just been cut

1.  Stack the front and back right sides together and the lining right sides together.

2.  Stack and pin all 4 layers together.  Sew from cuff edge to cuff edge.  I used a seam that was a bit over 1/4", to make sure I got all 4 layers included in the seam.
Sewing around the stocking

3.  Reach into the stocking between the lining fabric and turn the stocking so that the lining is on the outside.

4.  Fold the loop in half lengthwise and press.  Then fold the raw edges into the fold line and press.  Put these pressed edges together and edge stitch.

Pinning the loop to the stocking, with
lining on the outside

5.  Pin the hanging loop at the heel edge seam, raw edge placed at cuff raw edge.  I put my loop to the side of the seam, opposite where the seam allowance is, to reduce bulk.

Seam on the cuff pressed open
6.  Sew the short edge cuff seam and press open.  You will have a tube.  Turn and fold so that the seam is on the inside. 

Pinning the cuff to the stocking lining;
stocking front and back still
on the inside.
7.   Place the cuff over the stocking (still with the lining on the outside) and pull it down so that all raw edges are even.  Pin the edges together.

8.  Sew around the top of the stocking.  I always reinforce the area where the loop is with another line of stitches. 

Sewing the cuff on

7.  Turn the stocking ride side out and turn the cuff down.  Voila!  Your stocking is finished!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Festival, Part One: Some Portrait Quilts

The International Quilt Festival in Houston every fall is the largest quilt exhibition in the world, and it is Houston's largest convention.  Since I began quilting in earnest in 1998, I've attended almost every year.  Sometimes taking classes, but often not--often just feasting my eyes on the hundreds of quilts.

This year I attended with friend Carolyn from Dallas.  We spent two days and one evening at the Festival, not only viewing the quilts, but also shopping. 

It is difficult to do so, but I've tried to narrow down the hundreds of pictures I took to some of my favorite ones.  Some are traditional, some are art quilts.  All are inspiring!  Because I'd like to comment on the quilts, I've decided to break my remarks about Festival 2010 into several different postings.  Today's post focuses on portrait quilts.

This quilt, a blue ribbon winning quilt in the "Group Quilt" category,
is an outstanding example of using fabrics creatively to depict the
shadings of a face.  These 10 women from Australia each did
self-portraits, with the daunting challenge of using
Kaffe Fassett-designed fabrics,
 not flesh-colored, plain, ones! 
A close-up will demonstrate how successfully these
quilters met the challenge!

A close-up from the group quilt.  Click to enlarge to better appreciate the unusual
choice of fabrics, yet the creative way this portrait "works"!

A close-up of the book
reading girl, showing
how artfully this quilt
artist has depicted the shading
on the girl's face with appliqued
fabrics of different values.

  This quilt appealed to me also because of my own love of reading and my memories of how, as a young girl, I would get lost in a book, as this lovely young girl is--so lost that the horses from
her book are literally leaping from its pages!  Another thing I love about this quilt is the way the artist has used traditional quilt blocks, skewed, yes, but still traditional, to depict the sky and in the green quilt (or is it green grass?) below the girl.  Most definitely this quilt and a few others I'll discuss later was in my "top 10" or maybe "top 5" favorites!
Here's a close-up of another portrait quilt.  This is a
lovely example of another way to render portraits in fabric--this beautiful
young woman's face has been painted with fabric paint.

Here's the painted quilt, which is called "The Solace of Persephone."