Thursday, December 31, 2009

Millenium Yo-Yo Quilt Finish!

I did it! I finished my Millenium Yo-Yo quilt before the end of the first decade of the 21st century and I just made it-I finished it last night! It is made with at least one yo-yo of all the fabrics that I had in my closet on Dec. 31, 1999-all the quilting fabrics, that is. Not every yo-yo is unique however, I didn't have that many fabrics!
It came out quite a bit smaller than I expected...I started with a 4" circle, making 2" yo-yos but when I sewed them together, they got a bit smaller.

Recognize any fabrics? There's everything from batiks to big florals to reproductions (that double pink is one of my favorite fabrics ever-I have about a 4" x 6" piece left :( .

This is probably how I will display it...isn't that a dreamy, romantic look with the net curtains, vintage bedspread and yo-yo quilt at the foot of the bed? Ever since I saw the movie "Twister" and the yo-yo quilt at the foot of the Aunt's bed, I've wanted one and now I have one!
Happy New Year! Drive carefully tonight! See you all in 2010!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Book Review: Exit Music by Ian Rankin

This is the last in the Inspector Rebus novels and the first that I have ever read. I know this is coming at this a bit backward but I’m not upset at all…I don’t think I really would like to read another.

I know these books are very popular…the book told me so: on the cover: Number One Bestseller and at the end of the book, well, 16 pages of Reading Group Notes including a bio of the author (he’s an OBE and his books have been translated in 30 languages), a list of discussion of points about all of the Rebus books and then a plot summary and discussion points on this specific book!.

So why am I bucking the trend…well, I’m not sure I am. Maybe if I had read the earlier books I would have enjoyed this more. It is very well written and it moves quickly (it was great reading it on the treadmill-the time just flew by). Maybe DI Rebus just needed to grow on me.

As it is, the 418 pages of complicated possibilities as to who murdered the poet and why, and other mayhem related to that murder (or not), was very interesting and then the whole was cleared up, rather prosaically too, in less than 30 pages-with nothing related to the previous complicated possibilities! (That’s a spoiler but what can I do!) That is what turned me off.

This is my twelfth and last book review for the 2009 Support Your Public Library Challenge. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I'm a Craft Gossip give-away winner!!

I'm so lucky! I won a give-away from Craft Gossip Needlework! This book just arrived at my house...
here's the back cover-check out that window!
and here's a close-up of the small left side square...I can't believe this is machine stitched!
Something new has been added to my mental list of 2010 projects-trying free motion machine embroidery! I'm thinking totally out of the box for me-some small embroideries to frame!

Thank you Denise from Craft Gossip Needlework and thank you Patty from Pip Stitch for letting me know about the give-away!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Book Review: The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

In this clever literary mystery, a wonderful first novel by Matthew Pearl, a Dante scholar and Harvard professor, 19th century Boston is brought to life. Soon after the end of the Civil War, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow translated Dante’s work into English with the help of some of his friends and fellow poets. They met regularly to discuss and review Longfellow’s translation and dubbed themselves the Dante Club. Mr. Pearl uses this as the jumping off point for his story of how someone is killing people based on the punishments from Dante’s Inferno.

Mr. Pearl has written a wonderful cast of characters, including of course, Mr. Longfellow and fellow poets, James Russell Lowell and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes (the father not the Chief Justice!) taken from history but also Mr. Rey, as the first Black police officer in Boston, Mr. Bachi as an Italian immigrant and Mr. Camp as a Pinkerton detective-using them to discuss issues of race, immigration and corruption in the 19th century.

This beautifully written novel gets off to a ripping start with a scary “Caution to the Reader” preface by C. Lewis Watkins in wonderful mocumentary style!

I enjoyed this book very much and I’m looking forward to reading Mr. Pearl’s second novel, “The Poe Shadow”.

This is my 11th book review for the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vintage Thursday Thingie: Hannukah

This brass Hannukah menorah or Chanukiah was my grandparents on my Dad's side. You can see that its been well used ...its a little wonky and leans a bit to right. Not sure of the date-this is a traditional style so its hard to date. This is an illustation from a children's book of Jewish holidays that was my mother's. It was published in 1928 and she received it as a gift in 1933 (by the inscription) from her father.
The illustrations are by the Jerusalem Bezalel artist: Ze'ev Raban. It is a wonderful book!

Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday and New Year! (in case I don't make it back before 2010-I seem to be more hit and miss than I used to be :)

For more vintage treasures, please go to Coloradolady...she holds the key to wonderful vintage goodies!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Yo-Yo quilt and Double Wedding Ring quilt updates

I've been working on the yo-yo quilt-mainly sewing "blocks" of 5 rows by 5 rows. It seems to make the whole thing seem more manageable! :) This pile contains 9 blocks. I've also been working on the DWR-I got it on the frame and I've started hand quilting! Yeah! I'm 1/4" outline quilting the ring wedges and I think it looks nice. (the top row looks like its quilted 1/2" inch because it is-I've left room for the binding :) and I'm very proud of myself that I remembered to do that!

I'm really happy with the way the design is looking too...wish it was a nicer day and I could get a better picture. I know I shouldn't complain but it has been raining for days!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

My son recommended this book and I have to say he picked a winner! If you like historical novels and books that are character driven, like I do, you will really like this book. But a word of warning, this is the first book in a series-four have been published so far-and I was so “smitten” that I j ust had to read the others. Now my public library did not have them all so I was reduced to “beg, borrow…and buy!”

This book takes place in an invented medieval world complete with Kings, Queens, knights, rival houses, heroes and villains. In Chapter 1, we meet the Stark family, northern nobles, and some of my favorite characters: the father, Eddard, mother Catlyn, boys: Robb, Jon Snow, Bran and baby Rickon and the girls, Sansa and Arya. Throughout the book, we follow their adventures and interactions with the King and House Lannister. Trust me, you will find yourself rooting for some and booing others!

The book is arranged in chapters narrating the story of each main character…I liked that a lot. While sometimes the chronology overlaps, it makes for fun reading and yes, sometimes I did peak ahead to read the continuation of that character’s story but usually I was very well behaved and was willing to drop that thread and pick up the next.

A word of praise: as complex as this story gets, there were no slip-ups- I never thought “but wait, earlier you wrote…” There was simply wonderful consistency through-out-all characters true to themselves (while growing and changing), all events remembered and built upon.

The Chicago Sun Times said it perfectly “…this novel is an absorbing combination of the mythic, the sweepingly historical, and the intensely personal.”

This is my tenth book review for the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge .

(And no, I won’t be reviewing the others as they’re not library books but just know that I finished all of them in about 10 days-I couldn’t put them down).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tutorial: A quick and easy fabric grocery bag

I had this 1/2 yard piece of fabric sitting in the closet and thought this would make a great grocery bag! Here's how I did it... its really quick and easy! (click on the pictures to enlarge)

Cut 3" from the selvage edges and trim up the edges...

Fold 1/2" in on both of the long sides of the 3" cut offs...

Fold the piece in half and take it to the sewing machine. Sew 1/4" from the two- fold folded edges and then sew again right up against the fold.

Fold the raw edges of the short sides under about 3/4" and sew that down. Voila! A handle! I did it again and had 2 handles.

Refold the big piece of fabric with right sides touching and the wrong side up.

and fold down 1" from the edge (the edge I'd cut the 3" off ) on both sides...

and sew these hems down.

Put pins in the sides and sew up the side seams.

Pull on the bottom corners to make pointy triangles, measure 2" from the point and draw a line.

Sew on the drawn line.

Repeat for the other side, turn the bag right side out and press.
Find the middle of the top of the bag, put a pin in to mark the center and measure 2 1/2" from the pin and pin a handle in place.

Sew the handle on by sewing a "square" all round the bottom of the handle and then diagonally across. Done!

My new grocery bag...cute, reusable and it won't tear easily like those funny paper fabric bags...I'm going green and you can too!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Yo-yo quilt update and links to great vintage and antique quilts

I've been working on the yo-yo quilt and its grown! Its now twice the size it was-20 yo-yos by 20 yo-yos! For a lap quilt, I'm thinking I need about 28 yo-yos by 35 yo-yos so there's still a ways to go.
Thought I'd share some great sites for seeing antique and vintage quilts that I've found about recently.

Here's a wonderful place to see lots of Amish Quilts on line-the Indiana Museum collection. Thanks to Pepper Cory for this link that I'm just passing on!

The Quilt Index has now added a whole new section on Signature Quilts. These are sorted by period so you can just pick and choose the when of these wonderful quilts that you want to visit!
We saw some wonderful Signature Quilts two years ago when we were in Pennsylvania at the West Chester Historical Society. Signature quilts were very popular with church groups, both as fundraisers (you paid say $1 and had your name inked or embroidered onto the quilt) and as gifts to departing ministers. It was great to see these quilts as they are not your usual museum fare but more like the kind of quilts we all make...generally Historical Societies are great places to see the material comforts of long ago and not-so-long ago everyday life.

Here's another place to view vintage quilts:
and read some articles about them by quilt historians.
You can read some fun short stories-written by quilters-here. They're all written as if they were written by long ago women and all have quilts!
Have fun getting totally awed and inspired.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Book Review: The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory

The Virgin’s Lover by Philippa Gregory

The Virgin’s Lover, a historical novel by the author of the best seller, The Other Boleyn Girl, explores the early days of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I with an emphasis on her relationship with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. The most interesting thing is that Philippa Gregory includes the view point of Amy Robsart, Robert Dudley’s wife.

Historically, it is well known that Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley were friends from early childhood, that Elizabeth I attended Robert Dudley and Amy Robsart’s wedding and that Amy Robsart died from a broken neck, from a fall down stairs. The speculation that a talented author can have with these bare facts is whether the relationship between Elizabeth and Dudley was more than friendship and did that have a direct bearing on the death of Dudley “inconvenient” wife…the real fun is how Philippa Gregory weaves her web of court intrigue and romance-bringing alive the days of 16th century England.

This is my ninth book review for the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Vintage Thursday Thingie: 1950s-crystal jewelry and a very weird commercial

Today is Thursday and that means Vintage Thursday Thingie, hosted by Coloradolady. Don't forget to check out the vintage treasures waiting for you there but first...

This is a crystal necklace and clip-on earrings set from the 1950s that were my Mom's.
Scary marketing strategy in this 1950s commercial but check out the woman's outfit! Hmm, think she could be wearing a crystal necklace and earrings....No, probably pearls!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Double Wedding Ring Quilt

Inspired by Karen's hand quilting and Eileen's posts about the wedding ring she's working on, I decided it was time to take this big block Double Wedding Ring Quilt out of the closet and get working on it.

I drafted the pattern a few years ago after seeing my friend Teresa's vintage wedding ring quilt-I had always intended to trace the pattern from her quilt but never did. ( They were transferred and so I lost my chance :) I loved the big rings and thought it would be easy to sew such gentle curves.
I was right. The quilt top went together quickly and easily...once all the fabric was marked and cut with scissors!

I finally decided on the quilting patterns and I hope you can see one here! I've marked about half of the quilt so far but then had to put it away as I got busy cooking and baking for Thanksgiving!
Here's the pattern for the "melon" pieces. This is an adaptation from a vintage Mountain Mist border pattern...I like the idea of echoing the rings in the quilting-the square to me represents the home!

You're probably wondering already about the fabrics used: part vintage and part reproduction.

Here you can see some more fabrics-on the top left arc the first two are vintage, next two reproduction, next vintage, last is a red dotted swiss that while a new fabric is timeless. The vintage fabrics range from feedsacks from the 30s and 40s to dress cottons from the 1950s and 60s .

I'm planning on marking some more tomorrow: DH will be playing bridge and I'll use the big dining room table, put on some country music and mark away!

BTW has anyone else had trouble uploading pictures to blogger? I tried at least six times starting yesterday and finally I was able to load the pictures one at a time and even then one timed out and I had to start that one over again!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Book Review: Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger

Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger

This latest book by Lauren Weisberg is the story of three friends, all about to turn thirty…Emmy, just out of a 5-year relationship, Leigh, book editor extraordinaire, and Adriana, the wealthy “playgirl”. The title and the book cover make you think that their main concern is getting married but that’s really not what the book is about. While they certainly would like to find The One, they are still discovering who they are.

“One Saturday night at the Waverly Inn, the girls make a pact: within a single year, each will drastically change her life.” Our fun is watching them do it!

Did I enjoy this book? Yes but it is not as much fun as her previous books ( much less name dropping than in The Devil Wears Prada-which was kind of fun-and not as interesting as Everyone Worth Knowing.)

Yes, I’m a sucker for chick-lit but the season has changed and its time to get into something a little more serious…well, maybe not too serious! I know I haven’t posted reviews consistently but I have been reading! I’ll be posting one review every week until the end of the year to meet my commitment to the Local Library Challenge.

This is my eighth review for the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! (We had a great time, no oven drama! and now we get to eat all the leftovers! :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Yo-Yo Quilt Story

Anyone remember Millenium Quilts? In 1999, there was quite a buzz about making quilts to take note of the turn to not just a new century but a new millenium. Now there were quite a few possibilities for these quilts: quilts from your stash of (obviously) 20th century fabrics, quilts with 2000 pieces,and charm quilts using special collections that fabric manufacturers made available with new fabrics for 1999.

I decided I would make a yo-yo quilt using my stash...after all, I had been quilting already for 10 years and thought it would be nice to have a quilt using all the fabrics in my closet (even ones I'd never yet cut into!) I made a circle template, cut off about 4 1/2" from each piece of fabric and marked the circles, marked circles on larger pieces from my scrap drawer and voila!

You saw in my last post my pile of cut's a stack of only marked circles!

Here's a bag of sewn yo-yos...
And here is my effort so far for my Millenium Quilt! 20 rows with 10 yo-yos in a row! :)
I think I had better get working on this! I'm thinking of a pre-New Year's Resolution: finish this before 2010! Think I can make it??? I'm not sure but I'm going to give it a try.

What's your longest UFO?


Monday, November 23, 2009

Some thoughts and Yo-Yos from our trip

Some thoughts from our trip:

1. Germans love Italian food...I think every block had at least one Italian restaurant if not two! and breads and rolls...Mmmm, and a very delicious sweet cinnamonny biscuit called a Wuppi Zimt!

2. Cobblestone streets make wearing high heels impossible!

3. Bike paths are on the sidewalks not in the street so watch where you walk and even wait for the bus! I was pleasantly surprised that DH escaped unhurt.! :)

4. Use the S-Bahn subway system or buses in Berlin. Everytime we used the U-bahn subway, we had a misadventure...the last time we had to go 5 stops...after 2 stops I had the feeling the train was going in a different direction than before: how ridiculous! I thought...until we ended up back where we had started! There was work going on on the line and we had to change from the U1 line to the U2 line after 2 stops, go 2 stops, change back to the U1 for 1 more stop...see what I mean! (We also once walked for about an hour, never found the station (walked past 3 of them apparently) and ended up taking a cab back to our hotel!)

5. We went to 2 concerts and 1 opera and about a dozen museums-both big and small!

6. We had a great time!

7. I thought I would take something along to sew so I grabbed this pack of circles-all cut and ready to be sewed into yo-yos for my yo-yo quilt. (More about that later...stay tuned for The Yo-Yo Quilt Story :)

This is what I got done! All of 25 yo-yos...but at least they're sewn together!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Rhine, the Romans and the Return Home

We took a day trip with our friend Gabi and her brother from Bad Hamburg to the Rhine. We crossed the river by ferry... to the medievil town of Bacharach . It was raining so I'm not sure if this is a bit blurry from the rain or my inept photography. You can see how one house has an overhanging second floor-very popular during the Middle Ages. (I remember that from elementary school!)
We ate a wonderful lunch (sauerbraten and spaetzle) at this half-timbered Inn, built in 1368! and appropriately called the Altes Haus (Old House!).

The next day, we went to the Roman ruins and museum/fortress near Bad Hamburg. Kaiser Wilhelm rebuilt the fortress that was one of many on the border between the Roman Empire and those pesky folks outside . (Handrian's Wall in England served the same purpose.) The grassy mound is part of the unexcavated wall.

While building the fortress complex, archaeological excavations discovered about 100 wells and pits in the area-filled with refuse...ancient trash-archaeological treasure! I have never seen such wonderful finds before.
Here is a cabinet filled with shoes found in the pits. The black shoes are Roman-the brown are reproductions made by the museum!-a wonderful idea! There must be at least 6 different styles of shoes, some open toed and others closed.

There was also quite a bit of pottery, tiny samples of cloth, lots of tools, arms etc. but I thought I'd share some wonderful, wonderful pottery that reminds me of Japanese Jomon pottery.

Aren't these faces wonderful!
We're now back home and it is nice after almost a month away and of course, just in time for Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vintage Dresses...Antique Belts

We went to the wonderful Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin and I thought I'd share two beautiful dresses that I saw there-the one above from the 1920s has beautiful beading on the sheer overdress (a notch up from the simple black dress!) and the one below from the later 19th century has simply the most amazing beading and pearls and check out the ribbon rose! (We also saw wonderful Art Nouveau glass there (Tiffany and Lalique and others) but it didn't photograph well at all.)

We went to services Friday night at the Neue Synogogue (1859) and then back on Sunday to see the little museum but unfortunately they didn't allow photos-the front part of the building survived the war although it needed some repairs and so you can see the wonderful dome and inside the beautiful wall paintings. (The building was protected by the local police chief and wasn't touched on Kristalnacht (Nov. 9, 1938) when synagogues were burnt down by the Nazis all over Germany.)

We also went to the Jewish Museum, a wonderful history museum, which had some embroideries but I wanted to share these very interesting wedding belts. Now this is a tradition that I knew nothing about. Apparently in the Middle Ages, it was the custom for the bride to wear a beautiful jeweled belt...

and for the groom to wear a simpler one (still pretty fancy!) I found this fascinating...did they have to buy these belts? That is a much bigger outlay than a pair of wedding rings!, did the community provide them-sort of lend them out-or did the couples rent them like Israeli brides rent their wedding dresses?
(Israeli wedding dress rental is something I just don't get-you can pay as much as $2000 to rent a wedding gown with fittings and everything so the dress fits perfectly but then after the wedding, you return the dress to the shop! Now, what does the shop do with that dress??? wait for someone with the exact same shape or smaller (shorter... thinner...) so they can alter the dress down to size? Totally incomprehensible to me!)
We're off to Bad Homburg (near Frankfurt) and then home!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Neues Museum and Nefertiti

The Neues Museum in Berlin just reopened on Oct. 16, 2009. It was originally built in the mid 19th century and the building was heavily destroyed during WWII (the art work had been moved). There was alot of controversy as to how to restore it...I've written about all of the "reproduction" buildings I've seen in Germany-the original idea was to do that with the Neues Museum, completely restore it but in 1997 the English architect,David Chipperfield took over the project and changed it wonderfully.
He left the building as it was...with the bare brick walls (reconstructing the walls where needed) and added the original painted plaster fragments whenever they were available (having been found in the rubble). He added new stairs, etc where needed and created a wonderful mix of old and new. When I first entered the Museum I wasn't quite sure what I was seeing, but once I got it...I loved it!

The Museum is wonderful but the best is that I actually saw-in person- Nefertiti! She is more beautiful than I imagined and like the Mona Lisa, photos just don't do her justice...but here are mine.

Isn't her smile wonderful! Her skin seems almost luminencent when seen in person...and here's a view you never get in books:
Posted by PicasaWe'll be out of internet contact for the next few days...have fun everyone!