Saturday, April 30, 2011

Carrickmacross lace

I know a little about Carrickmacross lace. It’s all book learning, not hands-on experience. When Robert and I published fiber art books in the late 1970s we put out a title by Mary Doyle with instructions for making the embroidered lace. Some of her Carrickmacross lace pieces were placed in my hands when she brought her manuscript and examples to our office. Her book told of her experience learning to make the lace at the Convent of St. Louis, Carrickmacross, Ireland. She said the technique originated in 1820 and was still being made there.

The world saw a beautiful example of this delicate art at the royal wedding on Friday. The bodice and sleeves of Kate’s dress were done in Carrickmacross lace with motifs including a rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock to represent England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The lace work was done at the studios of the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) at Hampton Court Palace. Carrickmacross is done by appliquéing organdy shapes on netting with decorative stitching. It was reported that the needleworkers for Kate’s gown were required to wash their hands every 30 minutes.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

William & Kate

In honor of the wedding in London today, I pulled out this old (sort of messy) paper pieced pattern for you to try. You can copy the pattern by clicking on the small graphic below and printing it out for your personal use. The four foundations are for the four quadrants of the flag. You will also need to rotary cut two 1 ¼ inch strips of red fabric. Use the strips as sashing between the quadrants for the final UK flag.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Knitted Royal Wedding

Are you going to watch the Royal Wedding? Here is a knitted preview.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Pesky posies

It seems many bloggers are posting pictures of beautiful spring flowers this month. Diane captured some lovely blossoms yesterday on her blog, Going to Pieces. I can’t beat those so I might as well join in. My wisteria photo was taken in my front yard today. Although the flowers are nice, they are really pesky in my life. They have climbed over my neighbor’s side of our fence and they are choking my potato vine. They are also sending tendrils through the fence boards. I’ve asked my lawn mower guys to prune them back so they won’t pull the boards apart. It is really too bad.

Wisteria brings to mind a beautiful Kona Bay fabric called Emperor Collection II – Black. The cloth isn’t just for quilts. I did a blog post about Mrs. Obama wearing a dress made from the same fabric back in 2009. The fabric is still available -- I saw it a Queen B's Quilt Shop the other day.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday potluck

If you want good food, go to a church potluck. St. Alban’s Episcopal in Brentwood invited all of us to a gathering after the service today. I brought fresh baked bread. I was pretty nervous about my offering but people seemed to like it. I used Robert’s recipe with a recent modification. (I am getting so cocky about cooking nowadays that I dare to make modifications.)
The potato salad was delicious and there was a lemon meringue pie that I loved. Pasta, salads, egg rolls, marinated beef, and more were laid out on the bountiful table. I really like church suppers.

A member wore a shirt that I thought was so appropriate for Palm Sunday. Check it out:

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Fabric friend

You don’t have to run out of fabric before you must go shopping for more (unlike running out of toilet paper and cat food). Ah, what a refreshing afternoon I had visiting my favorite quilt store – Queen B’s Quilt Shop. Bernie Cabrera is such a warm, welcoming person. I did need some more reds, purples, and pinks for my fifth try on the hearts pattern.
Bernie’s store has expanded into the space next door and has a new classroom. I exclaimed about the change and she said it must have been a year since I’d been in. I didn’t think it was that long ago, but then I remembered the last time I was there was March 29, 2010. I wrote a blog post called “A nice day out.” It turned out to be the day before Robert went to the hospital and received his dreadful diagnosis.
I found just the fabric I wanted today, and I signed up for a class because I need to get out and meet some new people.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday thought

When these two items run low you have to go to the store, no matter what.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

. . . Garbage out

What comes in must go out. You go shopping and bring home stuff and it later mysteriously transforms itself into garbage. This is the way life goes.
Earlier this year, the county board of supervisors voted to raise the garbage rates for unincorporated Contra Costa communities (cities set their own rates).
The local paper reported: “The supervisors approved a nearly 14 percent garbage rate increase for about 7,700 customers in unincorporated Brentwood, Concord and Oakley, as well as Bay Point, Discovery Bay, Bethel Island and Knightsen. Starting March 1, the cost of a 96-gallon can will go from $31.85 to $35.85 a month, while a 32-gallon can will go from $28.85 to $32.85 a month.”
We had a 96-gallon toter can, supplied by the garbage company, for years. We didn’t have a choice. The 96-gallon can was way too big for our minimal garbage. Most weeks I only have two 10-gallon plastic bags in the can.
When I learned of the rate increase I called the company to have them take away the big can and asked for a 32-gallon can. They told me they did not have them available for our area. They told me to buy my own 32-gallon can. I went to every hardware store around here to get one. I could not find a toter can – the one with the big wheels that can be hefted up by the garbage truck’s automatic lifter. I bought a regular 32-gallon can for $18. The first week I put it out at the curb; the lid was tossed aside and squished. I bought another can. I put it out and it was damaged somehow.
I called the company and asked if I could put my garbage at the curb in a big black plastic leaf bag. They said I could do it one time, but that I was required to use a garbage can. I said I really wanted a 32-gallon toter from them. They said the small toters might be available in September. That meant I had to pay $215.10 for a 96-gallon can for six months, or keep on buying 32-gallon cans at the hardware store to get the lower rate of $197.10 until September (maybe).

I had toters on my mind when I visited a friend in another city. I asked about garbage services in their area. It turned out that my friend just happened to have an extra 32-gallon toter sitting around unused. The little toter came home with me. It’s just perfect – not too small, not too large. I had to get special permission to use this illegal immigrant toter. The staff at Supervisor Federal Glover’s office helped me with the garbage company arrangements.

I had a chance to thank Glover on Saturday at the Bethel Island Bridge ribbon cutting. He said when the supervisors voted to increase the garbage rates they had no idea that 32-gallon toter cans were not going to be available for customers.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

A bridge to somewhere

This bridge connects to somewhere important – my island. Yesterday there was a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate its completion. The bridge is quite a contrast to the old 1948 bridge. One local person, Allene Bean, was honored by County Supervisor, Federal Glover. Mrs. Bean has seen three bridges to Bethel Island. She was an island pioneer in the mid 1940s and remembers the first bridge which she said, “looked liked two planks” spanning the slough. She was around when the “new” 1948 bridge opened. Now in her 90s, Allene was here to cut the ribbon on the 2011 bridge. She is the lady in powder blue seated right in the middle of the photo.

And here she is getting ready to cut the ribbon.

The new bridge construction started in July, 2009. There are pictures here, and some contruction information here.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Wednesday word

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. Benjamin Franklin
I did it myself this year. Property taxes and income taxes are due in the same month -- that seems a bit much.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

“. . . never uses patterns . . .”

Here are some patterns I’ve bought over the years. I have used one element from one pattern in a quilt I made (a horse head called Horse Happy from Chickadee Charms). I didn’t feel I wanted to go through all the work of figuring out a simple horse head when there was one I liked easily available. On the top of the pile is the very first pattern I bought in the early 1990s called Nasturtium Quilt by Sally Lampi.
When I bought it I did not know how to appliqué and the directions were confusing to me. Nowadays, I have the skills and I could make the quilt but I don’t want to. I still think it is lovely looking.

The first quilt I made didn’t use a pattern. It was just simple square blocks for a baby quilt in 1993. I had a quilter friend, Carole, and she went to the fabric store with me and helped me pick out appropriate cloth. She showed me how to sew ¼ inch seams and how put the blocks together. I bought cardboard alphabet letters at a teachers’ store and traced around them on fabric and fused them to some of the squares. I did an embroidered bead stitch around all the letters so they would not come loose in the wash (that quilt was washed and washed and washed and passed on to my grandson’s younger brother). I quilted random stars on it by machine and hand quilted around all the letters and blocks.

I still plan to make The Wild Onion Jacket by Susan Conn Italo. I’m going to get to it any minute.

All this rumination was sparked by a comment on my last blog post. Gerrie Congdon said, “I think this whole process is very interesting - as someone who never uses patterns . . .” I thought to myself, “never uses patterns! How could that be?” Oh dear. Then I realized that I hardly ever use patterns even though I design and sell patterns. I do buy patterns however. I make some art quilts that are more spontaneous than a careful, patterned quilt.
Here are some reasons a quilter might never use patterns:
1. You don’t like pieced quilts, they are old fashioned. 2. All quilt patterns look alike to you. 3. Patterns are too expensive. 4. You sprang from your mother’s womb knowing how to make a quilt (and you don’t use cooking recipes, either). 5. You can look up a traditional block in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and draft your own on graph paper. 6. You have a computer quilt design program and use the blocks in it any size you want, and you design your own unique patterns. 7. Or, as Kathy Schmidt said the other day on the QuiltArt list, "You paint, you stamp, you screen print, you burn and melt and do some stitching to hold your layers together." 8. You only like appliqué.

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Well, that was fun, but . . .

Simplify, simplify, simplify is the thing to do. The hearts table top is pieced, but as I was sewing the last few rows I was struck by a thought. “This is so tricky dealing with all these bias edges.” I asked myself why I had designed parallelograms with 51.36 degree angles. Did it make the piece look any better? Would straight rectangles look just about the same? I almost didn’t finish sewing. I sketched a simpler block with plain rectangles. Nerts. It looks just about the same. There is no need for bias edges. Oh no, here I go again on the fifth try. I have to make new templates, draw brand new diagrams, start sewing, and take more process photos. Frankly, I am pretty darn sick and tired of pink, red, and purple. I am sure everyone else is, too. I’ll get going tomorrow.

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