Sunday, 30 January 2011

A "finishing" weekend...

Yesterday morning I finally finished another pile of marking (well, until mid-February anyway), and I celebrated by tidying and dusting the sitting room and then I sat down for the afternoon to work on block 2 of the Beyond the Cherry Trees Album Quilt which, I finally finished just after midnight.

I am quite pleased with this block, although I am not sure about the thickness of the embroidered stems. I used a single strand of one of the variegated silk threads I bought last weekend. I am wondering whether I should have used a double strand, but there again, the original only has a single. I will "live" with the block and see how I feel a little later.

I have already begun block 3 and, whilst I would like to say I will get it done, by next weekend, I do not want to jinx it, just in case another pile of marking shows up!

I have joined the international group blog doing the Beyond the Cherry Trees Album Quilt. There is much inspiration on the blog, with some wonderful colourways. I especially like the blocks that use a very "fresh" looking green, and I am looking forward to joining in on some of the discussions about the quilt itself. I am sure the blog will help me to maintain my motivation through talking with like-minded quilters.

Sharon, the "blog mother" has asked me to post some more photographs from the quilt. I have to say I am a little uncomfortable about this as I do not have Gay's permission, but here are two more pictures - the centre blocks (below) and of a block that has yet to be published (above), but I included it because it shows those devillish "fingers" on the pineapple block!

The centre block of the quilt (see above) is interesting in that the grapes are in the brown/purple one would expect, but then the centre vine is done in a light (sky) blue fabric as are the grape tendrils which have been embroidered with chain stitch. The same fabric appears in other blocks, such as the decoration on the fruit urn below the centre block.

This same plain blue fabric, which seems more "modern" than the remainder of the quilt, also appears in many Baltimore Album quilts such as the Captain Russell quilt (above) in the Baltimore Museum of Art's collection, where, amongst other things forms the blue bows in the centre of the quilt. So, based on this evidence, the colour of the blue is contemporary to the quilt.
Sadly, the very centre of the block has deteriorated, one wonders whether it held a verse and the inks used have oxidised and destroyed the background fabric? or, is it just wear and tear from being folded from the centre?

We will never know, but as I stitch these blocks, I am sure more thoughts will come to mind.
Have a good week!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

A little bit of shopping and yet more temptation!

Another week over and I am afraid to say I still have not been able to complete my second block of the Beyond the Cherry Trees album quilt, although I did get the second stem and four centres stitched on last night, so there is light at the end of the tunnel!

I decided to give myself a day off yesterday from the marking and went... shopping! Regional 2 of the Quilter's Guild of the British Isles were holding a day in Sevenoaks, so I decided to go along, not to the presentations or workshops, they were out of my interest field but to see what the traders had. It was a very small selection to choose from, but look what I found...

The purples and blues will be used for the grapes in the centre of the Beyond the Cherry Trees album quilt and I will add a dark brown that I have been saving for the project. I think it will all go well together although for me the batiks and Fossil Fern fabrics are a bit of a shock to the system! The threads will be used for stems and the tendrils on the centre grape block and I just bought the red thread for... just in case it's needed. If not, I will add it to my collection of embroidery threads.

More temptation...
Do you remember at the beginning of the year I wrote a list of all my projects currently underway? I have so many more projects that I want to do sitting in drawers and project boxes and now there are three more to add to them - Barbara Brackman's Civil War BOM in remembrance of the sesquicentennial year of the US Civil War, Rosemary Young's Detroit News Applique Flower Garden series and now Margaret Mews' Maltaville 1847 Quilt BOM.

Made for Mary Hill by the ladies of the Presbyterian Church at Maltaville, New York 1847.

I saw the Maltaville Quilt on a trip to Washington DC in November, 2008. It was on display in a glass cabinet on the ground floor of the Smithsonian Museum of American History. I wasn't in a particularly good mood that day - another story, but this quilt lifted my spirits considerably and the securty guards were very obliging as I took photograph, after photograph. Unfortunately, though from whatever angle I tried I still got the reflection from the lighting and the vertical line is from the glass panels, so I do not have the best of photographs :-(

Each block is signed by a member of the Presbyterian Church of Maltaville, New York and some have a verse. The block above was signed by Almira E Ohnstrad. The brown fabric in the tulip centre has unfortunately oxidised, but the rest of the quilt is in a very good state.

Oh dear, these blocks are really quite simple and I have so many of the fabrics already in my collection, so they wouldn't take me that long to applique each month... surely?

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A frustrating week, the Sundial Quilt and a recipe

Not a lot of stitching has got done this week :-(
Work, work, work... mark, mark, mark

I had hoped to have finished my second block from the Beyond the Cherry Trees Album quilt, but it still lacks a few centre circles and a stem. Hopefully, over the coming week, I will finish it ready for next weekend's blog entry.

I did however finish two more blocks for my Sundial Quilt whilst on my daily commute too and from work. This is a big project and one that I have been looking forward to for 42 years, ever since my father gave me my very first patchwork book - he would never know what he had unleashed! The book, Patchwork by Averil Colby has many black and white photographs of old quilts, but two always drew my attention, The Isle of Wight Quilt and the Sundial Quilt and they were really what inspired me to start piecing and applique. It is not exactly a book for teaching yourself quilting, but it got me started and it kept me quiet for many hours in my teens trying to fathom out how "to do it"!

The Sundial Quilt is a real tour de force and luckily I was able to closely study the quilt during the exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London back last year. The quilt has been in the V & A collection since the late 1930's and nothing is known of its provenance. The more I study the quilt and draw the blocks though, the more I begin to wonder about the original maker. I am sure it must be a little like how Brenda Papadakis was feeling as she drew the blocks in preparation for the Dear Jane quilt and all the questions she wanted to ask Jane Stickle about her life and her quilt, her thoughts, her aspirations and her dreams...

Above are a set of 4 blocks for the Sundial Quilt, I have quite a few more sets done and will show these off in later postings.

When marking takes over, my diet tends "to go to pot". Working late and eating healthily does not go well together so that I end up with either a bowl of cereal or toast and marmalade, a boiled egg or a sandwich/toastie for dinner. I know things are getting desperate when all I can be bothered to do is take a can of baked beans, lever off the lid, grab a spoon and then eat the beans directly from the can - and yes, they are cold! But I love it!

So today I resolved that I really must eat some fresh veggies and between the marking I made myself a large pot of one of my favourite soups - Parsnip and Apple soup. It comes from a recipe from the Cranks recipe book. I am not a vegetarian, but I loved Cranks restaurants back in the 1970's and 80's. Sadly, they are not around any longer, but I have all their recipe books and periodically I will have a Cranks week which always includes my absolute favourite, Homity Pie.

So, here is my recipe for Parsnip and Apple Soup, it makes up a quantity for 4 people.
1oz butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 parsnips (3 if they are small), peeled and chopped
2 apples, chopped
1 pint of vegetable stock
2 tblsp of fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp of dried herbs
1 pint of milk
seasoning to taste

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the apple and veggies and cook the onion until soft.
2. Add the vegetable stock and herbs to the pan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Take the pan off the heat and let the contents cool before blending.
4. Slowly add the milk as you blend - I like the soup to have some texture so you may not need quite as much milk.
5. Reheat the soup to serve, adding seasoning to taste - et, bon appetit!

Now, back to the marking... have a good week!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Beyond the Cherry Trees Album Quilt

Gay at Sentimental Stitches first showed me her primarily red and green quilt back in November 2009, at a Dear Jane meeting in Shipshewana, Indiana.
It is as you see not in the best of shape with faded green leaves to tan in some blocks, some of the brown/purple fabrics have oxidated, the turkey red has badly worn and in places it is difficult to tell whether the original colour was a sky blue, pink or white? But, somehow the quilt has survived 150 or so years and was calling out to be noticed.

Some of the blocks are quite unique in design and some have a familiarity about them when compared to other red and green quilts. There is a certain naivety to the quilt which I love, and the quilting is made up of flowers and individual symbols rather than the ordered quilting of feather wreaths and cross-hatching etc. To me a country quilt unhindered by formality.

Gay has a wonderful website and she is generously offering a different block a month from her quilt for free, so please visit her website. Past blocks are for sale at a very reasonable price.

I finally began my version of the quilt after I fell for a new range of fabrics by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts. Edyta designs batik fabrics and has recently produced a combined batik and reproduction style of fabric for Moda called "Bon Voyage". I loved the teal and mustard colours in the range. I met Edyta at a Dear Jane meeting in Shipshewana back in 2009 when she gave us a talk on how she designs her quilts - she has an amazing knack of being able to mix batiks with reproduction style fabrics to produce wonderfully vibrant quilts, something I would never consider myself, but with this quilt I have decided to challenge myself, although looking at the fabrics I have auditioned from my stash, I need more batiks!

Mustard coloured fabrics for the stems and leaves

Teal, cherry reds and pinks for the flowers and berries.

The large floral fabric is for some of the baskets and is the inspiration for the fabric selection.

I worked on my first block over Christmas and have a further three blocks in various stages of construction, but I finished my first block, block 8 just on midnight of New Years Eve and I am very pleased with the result.

Block 8 - Beyond the Cherry Trees Album Quilt

Saturday, 1 January 2011

A very happy 2011!

After nearly two years (!), I have finally found my way back onto my blog.

A new year means new resolutions - we will see how long I can keep this one!

Are you a starter or a finisher?

This question was posed on another blog. On reflection, I am most definitely a starter - I love starting new projects, all the planning, the sorting through my stash, finding a basket to fit all of the selected fabrics into and finally, starting the project - putting needle and thread into fabric.

I have so many works in progress, but... I do eventually (and this is the operative word!), finish my quilts. At the last count I currently have 11 quilts on the WIP list - Dear Jane Quilt, Sundial Quilt, 1800's Basket Quilt, two Baltimore Album Quilts, the Poppies Quilt, Flower Garden Quilt, Beyond the Cherry Tree Quilt, the Sally Post Quilt, the Rebecca Kohler Quilt and finally, I have to design and make a quilt for my 3" swap blocks I have collected from my friends over the last two years by next November!

So 2011 has got to be the year of finishing off at least two of the above! The 3" block quilt is a must, but which of the others? and, somehow, I have to resist all the other projects that are going on in my head. This is not going to be easy, believe me!

Back in November I went to the USA for my annual quilt trip and I arrived back in England to snow. This is a view of the street from my bedroom window. There was close to 20" of snow. Today, it is all gone, but the above will serve as a reminder of what we had...