Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

I hang this quilt in my dining room every fall. It is just right for the season.

I call it the Pumpkin 25-Patch. It measures 72" x 74" and is circa 1900.

I found it at a Topeka, Kansas antique mall in 2004. The squares in each 25 patch block measure 1 1/4”. Many of the 25 patch blocks are stitched with just 2 fabrics but several get wild, which I love.

It's in good condition with a few slight stains. Hand pieced and hand quilted, the quilting runs diagonally in both directions across the quilt. It is bordered with the same fabric as the solid squares. The backing is muslin, which is turned to the front to bind the quilt.

Here's a picture of my chokeberry bush near the front door. Its been such a pretty fall here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Medical procedure

Sometimes, as we grow older, we have to have medical procedures (polite language for things like colonoscopies).
They are no fun, as they involve things like fasting, prepping, etc.
But they are so worth it. This morning my doctor described the polyps she'd removed in my last procedure 3 years ago. She described their size and said they were on the verge of the size when malignancies can happen (they were benign).
She said sometimes she goes for days doing this procedure and finding nothing. And she wonders if its necessary.
And then she has a case like mine, and she knows it is.
Today, she found no polyps. I was too dopey to remember this, but my driver told me she hugged me when it was time to leave.
I am so happy we have smart people like her saving our lives.

Monday, October 26, 2009

An Experiment with the Silly Rabbit

One of the projects in Maggie Bonanomi's new book, Nature, is this one called Silly Rabbit.

This little guy generates a reaction in all that see him.

Donna di Natale, the technical editor for the book, stitched up this sample. She took him to her knitting group. They dubbed him Scary Harry.

So Donna gave him to me and I decided to take him out for an opinion survey.

He went to lunch at Free State Brewery. Our waitress Kaitlin pointed out that "this is an example that even inanimate objects like our beer". She thought he was adorable but a little creepy but cute too. "There is something endearing about him," she said.

The opinion of a friend of my lunch companion was, "Oh My!"

He went to stitch group. That seasoned bunch pretty much dismissed him BUT he did babysit one member's newly pulled MOLAR.

We took him to the Blue Valley Quilt Show in Kansas City. Many people were curious about him there. One woman called him a little rat with creepy arms. Another likened him to a praying mantis (!). Someone else said, "Maggie can get away with anything." He was called walrus like and kinda horrid. well!

Ruth Gascoigne loved him unconditionally. "He's wonderful," she gushed.

His last foray was into my favorite thrift shop of all time, Maj-R Thrift in Grandview, Missouri. We photographed him at the checkout counter there and then left him behind. luckily I thought of him a few miles down the road and when I returned, he was waiting there for me, a bit forlornly.

That is the end of his traveling adventures, I don't want to lose him. He graces my office desk now and I'm pleased to have the little guy around. I've always liked him. if you want to make your own, check out Maggie's book!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Our local guild, the Kaw Valley Quilters Guild, has an annual country store - a meeting devoted to shopping. Members reserve tables to sell their wares. Sellers included an antique dealer and several artists, people selling older quilts, fabrics, books, etc. I was there early to set up my table of books for sale, so I had time to look around a little, and......

I scored! I got this quilt for a song and it came with a great story. The seller had a pile of quilts she said her mother collected at garage sales years ago in western Pennsylvania. She thought her mom couldn't stand to see unwanted and unloved quilts so she brought them home. This one was purchased in the late 70s or early 80s.

The quilt measures 67" x 78". A few of the 14" hourglass blocks contain whole pieces but many of the blocks have pieces that were patched together. The fabrics are very familiar and comforting: many look like clothing scraps. It is machine pieced and hand-quilted in large stitches. The batting is a thick homestyle cotton. Best of all, the back is a soft flannel, that comes to the front to bind the edges. It will be a great quilt for snuggling.

I may call this one Dad's quilt. I showed it to him today and he obviously liked it. He doesn't get enthusiastic about many quilts - perhaps something about this one felt familiar to him. Anyway, I told him it's his.

I also purchased these vintage blocks from Terry Thompson. I love them! Terry has a lively eye!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Old Favorite

One of the best things about this blog is that it helps me keep documenting my quilt collection. This one is hanging on my wall now. I would have loved to have seen it before some of the fabrics became so faded. It measures 64" x 77". We think it's circa 1890. Its made of many homespun fabrics - I found it at a local antique shop a few years ago.

The block has these names in Brackman's Encyclopedia: Fanny’s Favorite, Diamond Ring, My Favorite, Old Favorite, and Grandma’s Choice. Notice the brick border is on only three sides of the quilt. Worn and faded in spots, its in fragile condition. The quilt is machine pieced and hand quilted in straight furrows.

I like how the pieces seem a little curved when you stare at the whole quilt, like Storm at Sea.

I'm documenting my quilts by recording information about them in a word file. I insert a photo of the quilt under the text, then print it and keep it in a notebook.

Monday, October 19, 2009

From Fabric to Pottery

We were at the Maple Leaf Festival in Baldwin, Kansas yesterday. Our friend Joanne Tolkoff's dad came all the way from LA to show his pottery at the fair (and to see what Joanne sees in Kansas.....).
Dan Tolkoff's pottery is vibrantly colorful, just like the fabric he and his wife Marcelle designed for their Tiger Fabric company in the 1960s. Look at the vase we bought: I think it looks like a lovely sunset.

Joanne is a wonderful artist too, see her visual blog.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall colors inspire my new rug

It was cloudy here all last week so when the sun came out today, it just seemed like a wonderful explosion of color outdoors!
I find myself often working in the colors of the current season. At the end of summer, I couldn't get enough of gold and greens.

Now I can't get enough of the fall colors. I save odd fabrics so I have plenty of colors to choose from to make a new rug.....Notice the colorful fabric strip across the rug, it's from a wild tablecloth I got at a garage sale last summer. The colors are perfect for this rug.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Seen at Market #2: Quilts

In the quilt show: Sampler with Yellow and Red Calico, by unknown piecemaker, quilted by Kathy Colvin. Pieced, mid 1800s, quilted in 2003.

This quilt in Sandy Klop’s booth is one of many on display by Moda designers from a half-square triangle exchange initiated by Edyta Sitar (learn more about that in Edyta’s new book Friendship Triangles, available in November from Landauer books). When Edyta describes her plan for half-square triangle exchanges, you can't wait to try it.

Linda Jenkins of Piece of Cake demonstrates a technique from the new book Appliqué Outside the Lines. Their innovative pieced backgrounds in bold colors caught my eye first - it's so exciting they continue to improvise!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Seen at Market #1: People

Cousin Donna! At the Moda booth late Saturday (first day of the International Quilt Market in Houston), I ran into my cousin, Donna Gehlbach Becke! We were both surprised to see each other there. I was at at market helping with the Kansas City Star Quilts booth and Donna, an avid quilter, was there shopping for her soon-to-open quilt shop in Lincoln, Illinois. I’ll let you know when her shop opens. Photo by Aaron Leimkuehler.

Elinor Peace Bailey showing Kaffe Fassett his fabric on one of her outfits.

Brian, Diane and Deb celebrating the end of the first day of market (photo by unknown Houston man who was walking by…..)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pets on Quilts (again)

A while back I wrote about my cats posing on quilts whenever I tried to photograph them.

Today, I arranged blocks on the floor so I could sew them together. I'm making a sample using pre-cuts (click on Fabrics, then on Precut Fabrics) for Barbara Brackman's upcoming Moda fabrics line Civil War Homefront. One charm pack, surrounded by wovens and alternating blocks of a striped pattern, is producing a sizable quilt.

As often happens, as soon as I laid them out, my co-worker Lucy plopped her big old body right on the blocks! Dear little Barkley soon followed.....

Oreo the cat was not going to be left out of the action. He got on it later and rearranged a small section of the quilt....

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Behind Across the Pond

Another book we've just completed for Kansas City Star Books is Across the Pond by Bettina Havig, on the right with her friend Emer Fahy from Cork, Ireland. They're at the AQSG seminar in San Jose last weekend.

Bettina's book is gorgeous, full of precise quilts in the style we call medallions. In the British Isles, where Bettina has traveled and studied extensively, they are called frame quilts. Bettina met Emer during her travels there.

Emer's taste in quilts runs similar to mine, to the more offbeat, thrift shop style quilt. Emer brought two of her quilts along to the conference. Look at these!

The first is typical of frame quilts from Inisboffin Island on the west coast of Ireland. Most are in diamond or broken dishes patterns. It has no wadding (the Irish term for batting) and zig-zag/wave quilting. This 1940 quilt was given to Emer.

The second quilt below is another frame quilt, from county Claire. The back of this early 20th century quilt is made of feedsacks.

It is good to have a thrift shop quilt comrade across the pond.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Scary technology tales

I was at the American Quilt Study Group conference over the weekend where we enjoyed many visual presentations. However, a few frightening technology events occurred:

Horror #1: Quilter A was relying on slides for her presentation. During her talk, her foot became entangled with the projector power cord. The entire projector flew off the table and landed loudly, upside down, on the floor. Loud gasps! The determined speaker picked it up, set it on the table and miraculously, it kept working just fine. ahhhhh.

Horror #2: Academician B created a super power point presentation on her laptop. She got onto the plane and discovered it had disappeared from her computer. She was able to have the images forwarded from her office and spent the next day recreating her presentation. Her audience never knew the trauma she suffered. Again, ah....

Horror #3: Halfway through keynote speaker C’s talk, a slide stuck. People leaped to the rescue but then a greater horror ensued: as they worked, we shuddered as we heard the sound of slides dumping out of the tray. Keynote speaker C gamely ad libbed, the slides were restored (albeit in a different order) and she finished with her great sense of humor intact.

Like the potholder above that illustrates these stories so well? It's the newest member of my collection, bequeathed by Bobbi Finley, via Carol Jones. I have nearly 40 of these potholders with faces. I need to do my research and find out when and why they became popular.....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A party for Joyce Gross

We enjoyed a reception at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles in San Jose Thursday night.

It was in honor of Joyce Gross, longtime quilt historian and collector. Pictured above are Kathy Ronsheimer, Merikay Waldvogel and Joyce in her leopard jacket. “It’s not hard to get into collecting,” Joyce told an appreciative crowd (of many quilt collectors in town for the American Quilt Study Group seminar).

On display in the museum gallery were quilts Joyce collected and the one she made (below) for her grandson Dylan. She worked on it from 1974 until 1984.