Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Books: The Winters After

This week I read All the Winters After by Sere Prince Halverson. The story takes place in Alaska. A man goes back home to Alaska after 20 years away (in Texas). He and various family members are dealing with the long-ago deaths of some of the family in a plane crash. The trauma leaves residue of guilt and pain in many of their lives. The man meets a woman who has spent 20 years entirely alone in order to escape from some family issues and trauma of her own. Together they learn to explore the pain they both experience and to transcend its ramifications.
Good: description of the setting, Alaska, both its harsh winters and its luxurious summers
Not so good: character development - tended toward sappy and stereotypical. Entertaining book, but not great.

By the way, I read this book on my Kindle, but the printed book has a gorgeous cover. You could buy it just for the cover beauty and enjoy some light (although unhappy, at times) reading while on vacation.

reading a Nora Roberts book while waiting for car repairs

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Quilt Show 2016

I attended the Minnesota Quilt Show this year, but had limited time. I didn't even see all the quilts. I did get some pictures and am happy to share them with you here. I am sorry, but I cannot give you the quilt makers' names. I just did not have time this year to do my collection of info in a careful way. Hopefully you can click on a picture to get a bigger view.

The first one, below, is depiction of Northern Lights. I love this one!
Above: the tree was made from tiny pieces of fabric strewn about and covered with toule/netting (not sure what to call it), and then carefully and painstakingly quilted all over in a tiny stipple fashion. Very nice! Pictures don't do these quilts justice, as you well know... just sayin'.

Below: this first one was made by someone from Eagan, MN.. that's all I remember. The second one was made by Susan Cleveland of Minnesota.
Above: was one of the Best of Show, but I can't tell you which category or who made it. Don't you love the blouse worn by that woman observer?

This one.. oh, my... observe the awesomeness of the background. The pattern of words and letters was made by the way she quilted! The thread and the negative spaces of the thread make the background become intricate! Wow. This one was made by someone from Germany.

This year even I had two quilts in the show. The reason is.. one of my guilds, the Minnesota Contemporary Quilters, does a theme challenge each year, and the quilts from this challenge usually hang at the MQ show. So, here I am. WARNING: FOR GROWN-UPS EYES ONLY.. and then decide if you want your kids to see this (I'm serious).

The challenge was "Changing Times." My first entry, "Visiting the Other Earth," you have already seen. I made it as a result of a class by Jane Sassaman. I call it that because I like to think there are other planets out there, and eventually we will figure out how to visit them. On the way to the Other Earth, which knows how to get along without war and pollution, we will see lovely sights such as these in space:

The next one is called "Is This What We Want For Our Children?" .. the little blurb on the quilt says "her last day of school."
This quilt expresses my horror at all the senseless gun violence going on in the USA, especially at Sandy Hook, the elementary school in which so many little children were killed. The quilt gave me an outlet for my sorrow.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Deer, a Bear, and a Pheasant

Last week a group of friends went to my sister's cabin for a quilting retreat. We try to do this once a year. As always, we had a great time.

On the way there, I saw a deer next to the road. It sort of twitched as if it wanted to dart out into the road. Thankfully it did not.

We had our usual fun chatter, laughs, good food, good weather, and lots of sewing. "M" and I went for a refreshing swim. The first picture below is a quilt my sister made on our retreat last year. It was fun to see it completed this year.

One day three of us were sitting on the deck. My sister had been telling me of bear sightings that had been frequent this year. We have been going to that lake for 53 years, and had never seen a bear at our property, but occasionally would hear of a bear here and there. This year the reports are way up. Well, all of a sudden, on the path that parallels the lake, along trotted a bear! I must admit, I had a sudden panic instinct, and I jumped up and ran into the house. The bear heard my commotion, looked, and was equally startled. It took off at a faster trot along the path, toward my cousin's cabin. That was the last we saw of the bear all weekend, and my first-ever sighting there in 53 years. I wish I had not been a wimp but instead had grabbed my camera. If it occurs once every 53 years, I probably won't get another photo op.

We did our annual ice dyeing. "M" gave us each a pair of bamboo socks. I now have two pairs. I love them; they are so soft. Last year's are green. This year I used a dye called "orchid" for my socks and for two little kid hats.
Weather was gorgeous. One day we went into town for shopping and for lunch. I saw a moose right in the middle of town! (Oh, it's a fake one. Never mind.) We always have to visit the local quilt shop and the bookstore.
The sign was on the door of a pawn shop. It's supposed to be funny, but... is it? The shooting in Orlando had just happened the day before. Sadly, this sign may be serious. We must come to our senses one of these days!
The blocks are for two different Sunshine projects: one for a retreat a whole year from now, and one for a current project. We probably doubled the number of blocks after I took these pictures!

When we packed up to go, it was sad (as always), but decent weather for packing... and then it rained quite hard the whole time I drove home. We were lucky it didn't rain while we were packing up our vehicles. I saw a water-logged, bedraggled-looking pheasant plodding along in a farmer's field. That was it for my wildlife sightings; for auditory pleasure, we heard beautiful loon songs every night.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Books: 100 Years Old

I read (slowly) and finally finished The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. The author is Swedish, and in my limited experience, he fits into the "unique, quirky" category that I think describes Swedish literature. I may be wrong, as I've only read two or three Swedish authors that I'm aware of. But of the ones I have read, they've both or all been unique and quirky.

This was a fun story about a man who lives, mostly discontentedly, in a nursing home. On his 100th birthday, he can't stand the thought of going to his own birthday party, so he climbs out the window and wanders off, and disappears as far as anyone can figure out.

The book follows his escapades, and switches to flashbacks of his younger years. Remember the exaggerated story line of Forrest Gump, where he meets presidents and other famous people? The 100-Year-Old man does the same thing. His entire life is a series of being in the right (or wrong) place at just the right time, and hob-knobbing with the Movers and the Shakers of the mid 20th century. It's funny and odd.. quirky and a little bit out there. That's what makes it fun.

I never laughed out loud, but it was kind of sweet and funny and just odd enough to be.. almost weird. I hear they made a pretty good movie of this book. I'm going to have to find that movie and give it a try. I have a feeling it would make a great movie.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

More Sewing and My Prize

I have done a little more sewing, and if you can believe it, I still have not finished reading that book in which I was very nearly to the end! What is wrong with me?? Well, at least I have done some sewing.

This turned out a little smaller than I intended. I could add some border, I suppose. It's waiting in limbo while I decide.

I was very lucky to win a gift certificate at the Fat Quarter Shop from the Hands2Help challenge. They are so generous with their prizes! I used my gift to "buy" this pretty set of strips. I love the colors.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Friday Book and a Quilt Top

I thought I'd be ready with a book review today, but I'm not quite done. See?

I'm sure I'll finish it tonight or tomorrow, so look for a review this weekend.

Meanwhile, I've been sewing. My two primary machines were both in need of repair, so I'm using a third option, which does not give a consistent 1/4-inch seam. I decided to make an entire quilt top using that machine, so at least the seams would be consistent. Here you go -- a look at my 16-patch quilt top.

I had two mini-charm packs and I also purchased a bag of pre-cut squares for $1 at my quilt guild, so I decided a 16patch pattern would be fun to make. This turned out to be about 42-inches square. Some baby will be the recipient, eventually.

My Juki sewing machine was all done being serviced today, so I'll be back at normal production as soon as I get it set up again. Hooray!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Building Barns with Julie's Help

I follow Julie S. over at her blog, Me and My Quilts - Exploring the Possibilities, and saw that her book was being published. I quickly ordered it and got it right away after its publishing date. The book is:

The book is really fun to read; she talks about her process of looking at barns, building quilt block barns, in a very fun and readable style. It's like talking to her while she makes her beautiful quilt. I saw this quilt in person at the AQS show in Des Moines a couple of years ago. It's beautiful and is way bigger than my little baby-size barn quilt. Julie inspired me to make a few barns and houses of my own. Here's my quilt top (hanging on top of some other stuff, so it's hanging wonky):

I made it small on purpose, and in my usual, impulsive style I made it quickly...not nearly as thoughfully as Julie built hers. Maybe I'll do another one some day soon and make the project more deliberately. As I drive around the countryside this summer, I'll be looking at barns, and maybe photographing them.

Here are the blocks that I built:
just a simple house with a tree

this one is a big, tall barn with a silo, and I decided to add some animals.. oh, why not some elephants? It's an elephant farm. I love picking fabrics for these kinds of blocks. I liked the ruler design for the silo.

another simple house... but what's that? Giraffes in the back yard! Must be my house.

I'm not following the exact order of the blocks as they are in the quilt. I wanted to show you this barn now, because I loved how the green fabric worked to look like furrowed farm land. It was kind of intentional, but mostly just a happy accident. I had the cutest farm animals on one piece of fabric. I meant to use them again, but I stupidly lost track of that fabric until weeks later. (That probably explains the use of elephants on one of my farms.)

After that happy accident with the farm land, I tried again several times.. I had that same line of fabric in several colors. None of them worked out as great as they did on that first one, but they make decent farmland, I guess. Just not as perfect as that first one. These animals are hard to see... they're rabbits.

a house and a tree.. I tried to make this house the way I draw houses at an angle, but it was harder to do in fabric than with a pencil. So it's just a wobbly house. I've seen plenty of those out on abandoned farms around the state, that's for sure.

another simple house. I decided to put a small, struggling tree in the yard, and then something possessed me to put a monkey in the tree. That tree is too small for that big ol' monkey! But, that's the fun of making houses and barns out of fabric. They don't have to be 100% believable, which is a very lucky thing for me. Then I added a dog house.

This is my last barn. I finally got the front door big enough. I was so pleased with that yellow fabric in the upper window.. the hay mow. I used to play at my friend's farm, and we had such fun in that hay mow. The yellow in this one reminds me so much of all the hay we jumped around in, and there always seemed to be some new kittens to discover in the hay, too. My friend's older brother must have just driven up in his shiny Corvette. (This never really happened, but a person can pretend, right?)

The middle block in this quilt was made by someone else. I often end up with people's orphan blocks, and I can't remember who made them. Sometimes I buy them; sometimes I am given them. After I got this all put together, I wished I had put a block of my own creation in the middle, but I don't think I will re-do it at this point.

That's my foray into building barns. I expect I will do it again some time relatively soon. Moo! Neigh! Meow! Oink, oink....and that deep rumble that elephants make.