Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spinning Memories

This weekend brings memories and honors not only for those who have fought and served in the military but for others who have paved the highway in various avenues and walks of lives.  Many will honor their family members with flower and flag laying on graves, with prayers of thanks for their dedication, while this blog post today will honor friends who provided quiet meanings to our lives.......nothing blaring about their 'common' everyday journey but a touch of sense and purpose to our otherwise mundane days.
This bag of carded green cotton comes from the garden of a dear departed friend, Jo, who gave us many happy times of sheer bliss--her whit, her personality, her joy of living.  During the last couple of years of her fragile life, Jo bought a sack of home grown cotton to our January spin-in.  She was distributing her worldly possessions so she could live in a smaller facility.  The green cotton had been hand ginned by Jo's paper thin fingers.  She was giving me one of her prized accumulations.  Reluctantly,  I took the green cotton and sent it off to be carded into sliver--promising to return the prepared fiber to her the following year; but come the following year, Jo was way to frail to even think about spinning again.
And now as we treadle and spin this special gift, memories flood back--memories of Jo--she was one of the original members of January spin-in when it begun over 23 years ago; when others were triumphantly declaring how much they spun during the event,  she always proclaimed the LEAST spun at our annual spin-in.  Memories of the time we travelled together to 1984 Dallas Convergence  and with a stop at a restroom, the pale look on her face when she emerged from the stall--she had just flushed one of her $50 dollar bills that had fallen from her money belt!  She thought it was loose paper on the floor but when it swished out of sight, she realized what it was...............but, she laughed it off and we continued on our road trip.
These might be cast-offs of debris that has fallen from the fiber, but each of these little specks brings a sense of Jo to my fingers as the cotton is spun, bobbin after bobbin.
And as the sliver is one continuous length, that was the way Jo's life was--continuous and ongoing with love and laughter.
This label might be faded from years of usage, but the memories of Dempsey are strong each time this tool of the trade is pulled out to be used.   The many tools he built with his hands; the wool from his sheep herd that laid on the bobbins always bring memories of days of yore and the times we had on his farm.  It never fails every year when the first two weekends of April roll around, that our thoughts travel to those days when we would drive the distance to meet with other spinners at Dempsey's farm.  It was here that we could pick out our sheep fleece 'on the hoof' and Dempsey would pull up the marked sheep and set his clippers to the wool--yes, this was ours!  His lovely wife, Brenda, would make her molasses cake (made from their homegrown sugar cane) and we would all gather under the pine trees with our wheels, visit, treadle away as we were serenaded by their musical friends. Dempsey's sense of building relationships was always there.  This was our common bond.
This time it is bobbins containing Jo's green cotton that are resting in the 'lazy kate' so two friends, who might have met once or twice or never, are reunited in this simple chore of plying.  And the memories can continue...................
As we ply Jo's green cotton with Dempsey's lazy kate, our memories tumble out and about us.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Another One or Two Bites the Dust!!!

Pulling out all the stops these past few days and digging into the 'aging' pile, we have found this kit--looked easy so why in the world was it buried in the stash????
Everything one would need to make up this delightful wall hanging was there; just needed to read over the directions and begin.
Just a little sewing, some tracing onto fusible web, some ironing onto base fabric...........
Maybe, this will need a little stitching to complete the binding--how can that be so hard?
And May's block with Henrietta--just might need to redo those arms--looking kind of funky there!
And while digging into the stash pattern bin, we found another kit!  Gee whiz, why was it aging?
Once again, all the supplies were included, even the batting--so, why the problem of letting it set so long?  This was purchased almost three years ago.
See, that didn't take too long to complete--well, maybe we need to add some star buttons to the blue area..........................
This is the final panel to the folk art top that has been in the making for some time.  Just need a little border or two and it can head to the quilter's hands.
Whew! whipped out May's calendar wall hanging quickly!!  This was fun to make up--now, off to the quilter.  We came we found, we conquered!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oh, Those Expat Gals!!

What a great group of gals these expats are!! We can sing their praises to high heaven all the time--always there when you need a listening ear, a friendly nudge, a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board for all your compliments or complaints! They'll tell you when you are wrong or when you are right............................okay enough of that 'sappy' stuff and on to the gathering this week.
Judy M had finished the quilting on this year long project--Raggedy Ann & Andy redwork sampler quilt.  It is always an accomplishment to finish a long drawout project and finally fun to see the blocks become a quilt.  This is only complete with the quilting in my book.
Since there was the recurring theme of hearts, Judy used a heart pano to give this quilt some pizazz. Now, for the binding, a little hand stitching and we'll have a quilt for the ages.
Judy had also finished the quilting on Debby's top for Michael, who was one of the foreign exchange students that Debby hosted years ago.  This lovely comforter is a gift for his summer wedding--what a gift!!

We all fell in love with the backing!  Black satinee--what a whole cloth experience!  We said you could use this back as the top
Karen was working on her new grandson's top--what a bright baby quilt!  She was sewing on the border strips, which is the green fabric used in the sashing.
Karen was 'fussy' cutting her blocks from this fabric.  And being the perfectionist that she is, she used paper piecing to get the main block outlined with the sashing.
Judy continued to add her 4" blocks to her top.  So many little pieces cut to make such an outstanding look.
We welcomed Brenda back after her surgery.  She had been cooped up for six long weeks so we were all happy to give her a big hug and see what she has in mind for her next project.  And it's this 10 minute tiles pattern.  Using variegated fabric, shaded in black to gray to white and reds, she was cutting the necessary widths of fabric.  Please Brenda--let us know if the tiles only take 10 minutes to complete!
Annette,  celebrating  31 years of marriage on this day(!), was working on her "Bee Happy" top.  She and hubby have planned a long weekend away to celebrate with each other.  Congrats Annette and Phil!
What a great block!  So many things happening in just one area to give you an overall motion effect.
Here Annette is 'auditioning' fabrics for the outside border.  Brenda is giving the look- review test.  Annette is planning to make half square blocks to frame the center section.
Linda was putting the finishing touches on her grandson's flight panel for his birthday gift.  He aspires to be a fighter jet pilot when he grows up!  Isn't it great that he so loves this panel and wants it as his grandma gift--yes, we are teaching them right from the start!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Chugging Along!

We are just chugging along with our projects--slowly but surely.  Finally, have a pair of socks off the needles and ready to wear--when the weather turns bitter cold!!
This pattern was interesting to knit; nothing boring about this design! 
This past week was a day spent with a few of the expatchers in Judy M's new studio.  She has brought her quilting machine down from her house and working away on projects.  In an early post, you saw the beginnings of this quilt for her granddaughter.  Now, the top is quilted and ready for binding, along with little 'bling'.
Look how cute this is!  Just taking a preprinted panel and adding some lopsided blocks, along with applique flowers gives you a fanciful quilt for a dear little girl.
The quilting is perfect for this top!
This is the top that Judy finished quilting from my hands.  It looks smashing!!  These blocks took over a year to complete.  There were four more blocks to be added--but enough is enough!
The quilting pattern is 'wrought iron'.  Great balls of fire--something else has been completed!  Hurrah!!
And this top was left for summer quilting--another accomplishment that took over a year--working with one row or one block each month gives you a finished top.  The backing is an orange shade of fabric--bought 110" wide muslin, dyed it with Rit dyes--one package of orange and one of tangerine.
Judy was sewing away on her top for the RV queen size bed--who would think that this pattern could be complicated?  But, you must watch which way the corners are going when you sew the 4" blocks together.  If not, you'll have flying geese instead of stars.
Lots and lots of blocks ready to be stitched together.
The studio is getting new 'looks' every so often.  What a great sampler quilt hanging this one is.
Remember this whimsical Diva hanging by Karen?  Well, Karen was finishing up the binding this Tuesday. 
Sandy had put the quilting stitches around the border of this super hanging.  Just right for a quilt diva--threads going every which way!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

May's WOW!! Group

This weavers group has progressed by leaps and bounds during the past year!  To think that most of these gals are 'beginners' who have tackled many of the difficulties of choosing appropriate yarns, calculating, setts, winding warp, threading heddles, understanding drafts, tromping treadles and producing some outstanding fabrics.....................even those who are experienced or advanced weavers never learn it ALL........that's is the best thing about weaving world--you never learn everything there is to know.  There is always something about different yarns, different color combinations and setts as well as weave structures.
The gals are still weaving away on their summer/winter structures.  Here is another sett that gives a totally different view of this unique weave.

A photo of draft of above weave.
Totally different--summer/winter is so versatile.
Have a problem with tension?  Just use what is handy to weight those pesky warp threads.
Once again, another look at summer/winter.
One color or many, the weave works.
How about this color combination?  Perfect!  Maybe next on the loom?
Sample, Sample, Sample...........................
Our state conference is just around the corner, so Anita wove this towel in conference colors--it's a twill weave--smashing!
A show piece, to say the least, by the hands of Julie, using natural colored cottons--a great addition to any kitchen.
We are assembling our gift basket for the state conference raffle.  Who wouldn't want to win this lovely ribbon dessert plate with handwoven ribbons woven by Julie and Marian.  The gals had such fun with their inkle looms, they are talking about a study group this summer.
A great addition to the kitchen basket is this knitted and fulled pot holder and glove, given by D'Anne.
And here is our completed raffle basket--what a great assortment of wovens, kitchen accessories and food items.  Buy a ticket and place in our jar!
We had some other wovens that were not included in the basket.  Here Marian is discussing her latest scarf hot off the loom. 
And Anita didn't want to show this towel, off the same warp with conference theme colors.  "Why not?" we asked.  She said it wasn't her greatest work!--well, not the greatest in her eyes maybe, but smashing anyway--weave and learn.