October 26, 2011

What's Black and White and Re[a]d All Over?

My book - I HOPE!

OK... going "off topic" this week - I want to tell you about my new book, which was launched last week and is now available on Amazon.com!

Flying Over the Rainbow is a collection of stories about my experiences in moving to Australia and living in the middle of a temperate rainforest. I've been here since 2006 and have found it to be an amazing experience. We have kookaburras, koalas, magpies, and a host of other fascinating wild animals that live in the forest surrounding our home. Wild parrots, which have lost much of their fear of humans, visit our home on a daily basis. In addition to the native wildlife, there's a certain amount of "wildlife" inside the house, too! Our pet birds (a Blue and Gold Macaw, Green Cheeked Conures, Eclectus Parrot, and a canary) keep me in stitches, and I've included a couple of stories about their exploits.

So whether it's wildlife, birds and parrots, or Australia that excites your imagination, you'll enjoy this book.
Click the cover (above) to go to the book's page on Amazon.com - and if you'd like to see some excerpts from the book, click here.

October 19, 2011

Fabric=Yes/Design=No - "Crosswords"

I KNOW I'm not the only one who buys fabric occasionally without actually having a design in mind. Earlier this year, my husband and I made a trip back to the U.S. to visit friends and family. While there, I did a fair bit of shopping and, of course, trips to fabric stores were included. In Ohio I found calico identical to prints I see here in Australia, but for roughly 1/3 the cost. So of course I went nuts and bought a LOT of fabric. I figured I'd be able to come up with designs later.

Here's one of the prints I picked up. I bought 2 yards. I've no idea what I'm going to use it for - any suggestions? I'm not really a crossword fan, but this one, with quilting words and terms makes me smile every time I see it.

The photo makes the vertical and horizontal bars look a little "off", but that's just the photo; the print itself is pretty much even with the grain.

So.. hm... should I just make the quilt as a solid panel with this fabric, and then border it with solid borders of white, black and/or red? Or should I do a "crossword" quilt - using small white and black squares, applique or embroider a letter inside each white square - and then using this print as the border (and then bind in red)?


October 12, 2011

Quilt 12: Finally Moving Again

FINALLY! I've finally gotten back on track with this project. My poor newlywed friend may actually see her "wedding gift" BEFORE her first anniversary (but I'm not making any promises about getting it to her before Christmas...)

Some time ago, I bought a package of pre-cut batting for a double-size bedspread. I don't know WHAT I was thinking. I mean, really... I have no need for a bedspread that size, nor does anybody I know. So... I've decided to cannibalize that batting for other "small" projects, starting with my set of placemats (Quilt 12).

So here we go - I've got one top spread on top of a corner of the batting.

And here we go - just cutting a nice bit of "extra edging" all around the top (you NEVER want your batting/backing to be the same size or - God forbid - smaller than the top).

And here I am, pinning the sandwiches...

And, finally, selecting threads. I've got a boatload of "gold" (not sparkly, but gold-ish) thread left over from my 2nd quilt (the Ohio Star). There's more than enough thread to quilt the four placemats and the "trivet" mat, too.

October 5, 2011

The Rose Quilt

In 1975 I was 19 and still living with my parents. I had a job F&R Lazarus & Co, a local department store, working in the "music" department (where we sold LP's - this was long before CD's came into vogue) and occasionally assigned to the "notions" department. "Notions" was a section of the store that sold miscellaneous goods that didn't quite fit into other departments, including small makeup bags, knitting needles, and embroidery kits. One of the kits caught my eye: a stamped embroidery kit to make a bedspread. Greatly underestimating the work involved, I bought the kit, which contained a dozen square panels for the top and side panels for the border.

I embroidered one "ring of roses" panel (possibly the one below) before growing weary of the project. Then I stuffed the lot into a bag and shoved it into a closet, forgetting about it completely.

Nearly fifteen years later, my mother discovered her own "quilting gene" and started churning out quilt after quilt. She came across my long-discarded project and decided to finish it. She embroidered the remaining panels,including this rose bouquet:

And then the rose garland border:

She spent a year on it, finishing the embroidery, joining the panels, and then finally hand quilting, following the elaborate design stamped on the panels. She says she nearly went blind doing it, and I can easily imagine that. Her stitches are fine, even, absolutely perfect: exactly 5 stitches to the inch, and each stitch is identical to the other.

The quilt is exquisite, a work of art. The top is stunning, but even the reverse side is beautiful. On the reverse the incredibly delicate stitches are shown to their best advantage:

When she was done, she gave it to me as part of my Christmas present. I will never forget the moment I unwrapped it; I was flabbergasted. Even now, so many decades later, I am still in awe of my mother's talent and patience.