Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Catching Up

After spending the day at my son's house on Saturday, we returned to a neighborhood that was flooded with light.  Hip hip hooray!  Electricity, A/C, TV, internet.  All good, except... my friend, my guest blogger from last week, Kelly, had a tree fall during the storm onto the roof of her car.

She was driving.  It landed on her head.  It broke the vertebrae between her skull and her spine.  Ligaments were torn.  Her niece, in the passenger seat was untouched!  OMG.  But no paralysis.  I went to visit her today in the hospital.  She's flat on her back with a neck brace.  She's going to be fine.  Maybe a long recuperation, but as Kelly said "I may not be able to sew, but I can shop."  Spoken like a true fabric collector!  We're all there for you Kelly.  Everything seems to pale in comparison. 

I am happy to report that I have finished the 3 torah covers.  Before I share them with my blog readers, I want to present them to the temple.  I am very pleased with how they turned out.  The most stressful step for me was attaching the "skirt" to the top.  Happily,  it went very well. 

So now, after such a long term project, it's time to first clean my studio and then have a fun sewing day.  What do you do when you finish a quilt/project?  Leave me a comment to share.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Powerless in Pennsylvania

Between 3 and 4 PM on Thursday, a powerful windstorm followed by a huge downpour came through our area.  Trees fell onto powerlines.  Power was lost to 200,000 homes.  The storm lasted no more than 20 minutes.  It predominantly affected 2 counties in our area. Many people felt it was a tornado.  The weather people say no. 

We have no power.  We have no telephone.  We have no internet.  We have no A/C and it's in the nineties.  I know it could be worse, way worse.  Noone has lost their life.  A few houses have had trees fall on them.  We are not supposed to get our power back until Sunday night.  Some say Tuesday!  That will be 3, maybe 5 days, but it seems like forever.  I have been desperate enough to go to Panera for breakfast to jump on  their internet.  Today, I am hanging out at my son and DIL's house, enjoying their internet, A/C and TV.  (Yes, I 'm a TV lover.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Floral Inspiration

Chanticleer is one of the best kept secrets.  It was a pharmaceutical executive's estate, located in Wayne,PA.  His son donated it to the township and now it is open to the public.  It is called a pleasure garden and that is certainly understandable.  Sprinkled among all the different flower beds, are beautiful handcrafted chairs, for you to sit and take in the beauty, rest, o chat with you companions.

Serene, calm and eye candy.

 A wonderland of big beautiful hydrangeas.

Handcrafted bench in the vegetable gaden.  Check out the carrot and asparagus legs and the celery arms.

A "Fred Flintstone" seat made enitirely of stone.

Can you see the sculpted head lying in
the grass?

What a beautiful place.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

We have a wonderful vacation  house on a small lake in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  I spent a good part of each summer with my 2 boys there while they were growing up.  Their father would come up on the weekend.  It was a true Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn kind of childhood.  We all have such nice memories.  So much so that my oldest son got married on the lake last November.  We don't get there as much as we should these days, but I do make sure that my at quilt group manages to have a getway there at the end of each summer.

The dock is integral to much of the fun -  location of many meals and home to many hours of fishing.  After many winters of the lake freezing and thawing, the posts started leaning, taking the rest of the dock with it.

It was certainly difficult to balance your dinner on you lap without worrying about ending up in the lake.  Forget about those glasses of wine.   I would take the seat closest to the edge - just in case.

                                                                              So for Father's Day, my husband asked for a work weekend from our adult  boys, to fix the dock.  He had built the original dock about 15 years ago and he wanted to rebuild it so it would last another 15 years.  It turned out  to be a wonderful idea.  Level dock, happy husband, happy quilting friends, happy boys.

Tranquility again!

One other job was doing a little trimming of the spruce trees.  After hearing a bird squawking away, my one son noticed a birds nest.
Upon closer inspection, he saw a bunch of baby birds, that we guessed were robins, packed in like sardines, barely moving, very young.  The youngest I had ever seen.
Oh, how I love the mountains.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Knitting, One Project At A Time

I finished my fickle finger scarf.  Yipppeee!

This is what it looks like rolled up.  It looks very sculptural.  I like it.

Or rolled out:

I can't wait to wear it.  Too bad it is 80 degrees outside.

Unlike with quilting, I really felt I had to finish one knitting project before I started another.  I don't think I could stand another collection of UFOs.  So now I can start my self-fringing shawl.  I bought this hand dyed yarn at the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival in May.  I think it will be a lovely accessory when I lecture to quilt guilds.  It should go pretty fast.  The directions call for casting on 140 stitches with size 17 needles. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Guest Blogger, Kelly Meanix

I have a very good friend, Kelly Meanix, that is a wonderful quilter.  She has a special eye for color.  At one time she was a Thimbleberries girl and then one day, she gave away all of her fabric and went in a completely different direction.  Now she uses the clearest, brightest fabrics that she can find.  She is so knowledgeable about the current fabric designers and cutting edge blogs.  I have invited her to write about her favorites.  Kelly - take it away.

Hi Cheryl thank you so much for inviting me to post to your blog. I must admit I am hooked on them and look forward to reading them every day. Here are a list of some of my favorites besides yours.

CL:  Who is your favorite fabric designer?
KM:  I have many, I love Kaffe Fassett, Amy Butler, Heather Ross, Heather Bailey and Michael Miller Fabrics.
CL: I love Michael Miller also.  They sent me some free fabric for one of the projects in my book.

CL:  How do you find new blogs to look at?
KM:  I go to the ones I like then I check out their links and usually find similar blogs to the one I am looking at.

CL:  What draws you back to a blog more than one time?
KM: Lots of pictures and lots of quilts. I love to see the progress of projects they are working on. I like blogs that post 3 or 4 times a week.

CL: Does reading blogs give you ideas for projects?
KM: Yes it does and it also shows me the new fabrics that are out there that are not in my local quilt stores. I try to buy locally most of the time but occasionally I buy things on line.

 CL: Do you get motivated by reading blogs
KM: Yes I do. I see things that I never would have thought to try. Usually it is because of the fabrics they use. Like hexagons, I never had an interest until I saw them used in something other than Grandmother's Flower Garden with very contemporary fabrics. Blogs expose you to different people who do very different things, I love that!

CL:  Have you discovered a new tool/technique from cruising the blogs?
KM: Yes  I have found that I really like doing more improvisational blocks and again going back to the hexagons, English paper piecing. It is something I never had an interest in before I started surfing blogs. I think it has also given me the "courage" to do some things that other people may raise their eyebrows at.  Now I know there are other people out there that like what I like!

CL:  Tell me about the postcard challenge that you participated in - was that from a blog?
KM:The postcard challenge was from a blog. You signed up and they picked about 25 people to participate. Then it was closed (no one else could join). You made a post card for each person and they made one for you. It was sent through regular mail and we had a 2 month time limit to complete. Everyone except 1 person responded. I was so excited to get a new post card every couple of days for about a month. They came from all over the world which added to the excitement. There are many challenges like this all over Yahoo. Recently I participated in a pot holder swap here
CL: Do you only follow quilting blogs
KM: No I also follow some cooking blogs and home decorating blogs. The majority of them are quilting ones, like 99%!!.
KM: Cheryl thanks so much for inviting me to blog, I may just have to start my own.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Torah Cover #3 Heal The World

Time to get back on track and create the third and last torah cover.  The theme for this cover is "Tikkun Olam" or  Heal The World.  This is one of my favorite practices of the Jewish religion.  It originated in the 16th century and includes anything from helping the homeless to being environmentally healthy.  It's what we call today social action. 

This is the drawing of my original design.  The world is broken and it needs to come together to be repaired.  As I look back on this, from my pesentation,  I am surprised that is was chosen.  My colored pencil drawings just do not do the fiber torah cover justice.  The silk is so much richer and luxurious than paper and pencil.

I started with a piece of batting that was bigger than the finished torah cover.  I used many of the different colors of the silk dupioni that I had used in the other two torah coves.  This would bring unity and a cohesiveness to the 3 covers.  To develop the design I cut strips from each silk and then layed them out on the batting.  This was the basis for the cove.  Next I sewed the silk dupioni into vertical sections.

This is the torah cover constructed from the strips.  My plan was to construct the cover using the batting as a base, with a technique that we quilters call "sew and flip".  This ends up as a "quilt" that is pieced and quilted at the same time.

Next step:  Torah Cover construction.

Friday, June 11, 2010


This pen and paper has brought me many hours of fun and creativity. 
I was introduced to Zentangle several yeas ago and have wanted to try it ever since.  I finally carved out a bit of time to experiment.  I used a Pigma Micron pen and the 4"x6" photo paper that comes with new inkjet cartridges.  I started by watching a  YouTube Video, that gave a nice introduction.  Zentangle is really a fancy form of doodling.  Here is my first one.

I found it to be relaxing and so enjoyable.  The lines and designs appeal to quilters because the lines and patterns  can be applied to quilts.  There are lots of blogs and websites to peruse.  Some of them detail what type of pen/paper to use.  I like using the photo paper, but it is not superabsorbant and does smear a bit. 

I have tried to do one a day.  And each time that I do one, I search around for new fill-in ideas.  This ends up increasing my "vocabulary".    A Sharpie marker works well to fill in larger areas.  Here are a couple more.

There are books and classes out there, but all you need to start is a pen and a piece of paper.  Try it.  It's fun!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Sharpie Marker Quilt

Sometimes, we as quilters get so hung up on technique, and the proper way to do everything.  There's the right kind of fabric and the right kind of thread and the right kind of drawing implements to write on our quilts.  Well imagine how surprised I was when I drove from PA to CT to go to a baby shower and "the activity" was decorating muslin squares with Sharpie Markers.  A friend of the Grandmother-to-be (a non-quilter) was going to make them into a quilt for the mother-to-be.

There was one of these quilts there as a sample, that was clearly used and loved. 

My initial hesitancy disappeared.  I controlled myself from volunteering to put the quilt together - since this friend had done a great job in the past - and when I saw how much fun everyone had decorating their squares, I was hooked. 

What a great gift that will give years of joy.  But, just a warning if you decide to do this yourself - the marker will bleed through the fabric onto your table.  Use some type of protection.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

June Is A Busy Month

I usually lead a very quiet life, spending most of my time designing and quilting in my studio.  I certainly do enjoy getting out though, but look forward to getting back to "work".  It's not really work.  It's an inner drive that I have.  There is inspiration all around and I want to translate it using fabric into quilts.  From a pattern I may see on a building to the colors of a beautiful flower - there are just not enough hours in a day. So here I am , it's not  even the end of the first week in June, and l have spent more time out of my studio than in it.

I was invited to go to the Devon Horse Show.    It is right in my backyard, located on the Philadelphia Main Line.  It is a huge event in the horse world.  I had never been before and decided to go in recognition of my new daughter-in-law's mother, Char.  Char is a horsewoman, who is a very active rider/hunter in CT.   When I found out that I could bring my buddy, Bailey, as long as she was on a leash, that really sealed the deal.

We got seats in the grandstand to watch our first event.  The ring was set up with all these different jump type things.  (Do you like my technical terminology?)  As they announced that it was 7 and 8 year olds, we all thought we were going to see children on horseback.  Silly us.  They were referring to the age of the horses!  The riders were all adults.  The horses did not look that big from a distance, but as they got closer, wow!  And to watch these beautiful animals use those rear, powerful legs to fly over those jumps, was just amazing.

Then we went to check out the Budweiser Clydesdales.  My normally shy and aloof puppy, Bailey, decides that she needs to befriend one.  When I sent this photo to one of my sons, he e-mailed me back.  I quote:  "I guess it does make sense that a dog named after a liqueur is making friends with a spokes-animal for beer."

The next outing was to  The Gallery Walk in West Chester, PA.  This university town, full of restaurants and little shops was packed with people.   Not only are there galleries packed with artwork, but local businesses also showcase local artists. Wine and cheese/hors d'oeuvres are served at most venues.   "Layers", our art quilt group, was lucky enough to be invited to show our wok in the offices of Morgan Stanley.  We decided to showcase the quilts from our 4 challenges.
The quilts looked great hanging on the walls and in the windows of the individual offices.  It was a new medium for people to see quilts as art and it was very well received.

Coming up on Wednesday, June 9th, I will be lecturing in the Pocono Mountains, at the Pocono Mountain Quilt Guild.  Located in Stroudsburg, they will be meeting at the Senior Center that night at 7 PM.   The topic of my lecture is "Inspiration From Squiggles and Dots".  It brings me back to wanting to spend time creating and sewing and translating all those thoughts into quilts.  If you're in the area, come and hear about how my overactive brain thinks.  You'll either walk away looking at the world in a different way or thinking that I look at the world through an unusual pair of glasses.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Memorial Day Burgers

The weekend of Memorial Day brought beautiful, but hot, weather to Pennsylvania.  For this unofficial start of the summer, lots and lots of people head to the NJ beaches - or as they say here in the Philly area - they head "down the shore".  We are not beach people and do not go down the shore.  But, it was definitely a day to take a break from making Torah covers.

 There has been a lot of buzz about a new hamburger restaurant that had opened in Philadelphia, by Bobby Flay.  Bobby Flay - king of grilling.  I heard that it was so crowded, hours of waiting.   So, instead of having our own bar-b-que for Memorial Day, we thought since everyone would be out of town, down the shore, maybe we could get in.   So off we headed to Center City and Bobby's Burger Palace.  

A good sign - we got a parking space right in front of the restaurant. 

We really did not know what to expect as we entered the restaurant.  We had even phoned ahead to see if they took reservations.  Well weren't we surprised when we saw the menu on the wall and a counter where you placed your order.  
For my first time, I decided to order the classic burger.  Then, we ordered ALL the fried sides - french fries, sweet potato fries and fried onion rings.  You pay, get a number and find a seat.  The food is brought to you.

The decor is modern retro fifties with family style seating at both long tables and at the counter.  We had no problem finding a seat.

We did not have to wait too long for our food to be delivered to our table.  The "fried sides" came in these cute metal buckets.  The burgers were delicious and the perfect size - not too big and not too small.   A great Memorial Day Bar-b-que was had by all.