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!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Berlin Wall-20th Anniversary of the Fall

We got to Berlin just in time for the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Here you can see how the line of the Wall has been marked in the pavement...
and here it continues onto the sidewalk with one of the pieces of the Wall. This is at Alexanderplatz where there was a "History Walk" set up as part of the festivities to celebrate the anniversary-the sigh says Democracy and Human Rights. DH and I spent about 2 hours walking along and reading everything that led up to the Fall on November 9, 1989. I, of course, remember it from the news but it was quite different to be standing right where the Wall had been.
We went to the nearby Mall to warm up! :) (What a difference 20 years makes!) I thought it was a lovely mall...DH thinks they all look the same!
Posted by PicasaWe didn't go out for the big party at Brandenburger Gate (we watched it on TV :) as it was very rainy and miserable last night! How old are we!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

We’ve arrived in Hannover…and I love it! Everyone down south was saying how it is a boring city but to me, it is a lovely small city, very easy to get around in. We’re staying in a small hotel near the Leibniz Library and I can easily walk to several museums while Dan is busy at the archives. The picture above is the old City Hall...isn't it just a classic! Does your City Hall (new or old) look like that?! :)

There is a beautiful park right in the center of town, the weather has been wonderful and we've had a great time just walking through the park.

Yep, that's me resting on a bench with the City Hall reflected in the lake!

My favorite tree-a weeping willow! There was one growing on the lake near our house when I was growing up.
Posted by PicasaThe lecture went very well…played to a full house :)…and afterwards we went to a lovely dinner.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wine, Wonder and Wurzberg

We broke our train trip from Munich to Hannover with a three hour stop in Wurzberg- for a luncheon meeting with one of Dan’s collegues and a quickie tour of the town! After a lovely lunch in a local restaurant ( I had a regional specialty-a soup called Leberknoedelsuppe) we made a mad dash through town to one of the special vinters of the local Franconian wine. The wine comes in a distinctive blue bottle and it is said that wine has been produced in this area for over 1000 years. (We’re taking the wine to friends in Hannover. ) You can see the vines have been cut back for winter.

We stopped off to view the famous staircase…isn’t it mystically dreamy!

And the fall colors! I am so enjoying being here to see the leaves change…its been years and I will probably continue to bore you all with photos of the leaf colors across Germany! :)

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

More embroidered beauties from Munich

I wanted to share some more of the wonderful things I saw in Munich (Picasa is very bossy and would only let me upload 4 pictures! in my last post.)

This is a corner of the Courtly Love embroidery showing a kneeling woman. The embroidery was done in silk and gold threads…I’m not sure what the red background was-it may have been paint!

IThis is from a different embroidery-isn’t it a wonderful face!

Does this make you think of an applique quilt?...its a wood inlay table!

All in all, we’re having a wonderful visit so far-days visiting museums and evenings talking and eating with friends! And enjoying the beautiful fall foliage!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Report from Germany: Frankfurt, Munich and an antique embroidery

You know how I and many other quilters like to make reproduction quilts…well in Germany, they have reproduction buildings!

On this major-square in Frankfurt, these half timbered buildings have been rebuilt to replace the buildings destroyed in WWII-using pre-war photos to exactly reproduce the buildings.

In Munich, we went to the Residence-also a reproduction building!The Residence was the palace home of the Dukes of Bavaria. They were later called the Electors and then the Kings of Bavaria. They were called the Electors as they were part of the select 7 who elected the Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire.Did you know that the Holy Romany Empire continued until the 18th century? I didn’t-I thought it ended with the Fall of Constantinople in the 15th century-apparently not. Only the Eastern Holy Roman Empire ended then the Western continued until Napolean. (I’m learning quite a lot of history on this trip…I really only know American and British history!)

This is a photo of the building from one of the interior courtyards-it is trompe l’oeil–click on the photo and you will see that all of the shadows recreating the look of a stone exterior are painted on a simple stucco exterior.

The Residence is chock full of wonderful reproduction rooms…rooms with Rococo wall and ceiling plasterwork, rooms with painted wooden ceilings and rooms with brocaded walls…I think I am more impressed that this is reproduction work being done today than if these were 17-18th century rooms! What a wonderful job! Unfortunately, no flash was allowed and none of my photos came out.

The Residence also has a wonderful Treasury full of the crowns and jewels of the Bavarian Dukes/Electors/Kings. From the 13th century, there is a wonderful crown and a jeweled necklace, both with semi-precious stones the size of eggs!

We also went to the Bavarian National Museum-this building is partially original and partially reconstructed-and used to house the King’s wonderful collections-sort of an overflow repository for the treasures he just didn’t have room for in the Residence! There’s a whole silver state dinner service including plates, servers and silverware…made me feel better-it, like my silver, needs polishing!, a wonderful display of Meissen porcelain figurines-showing both painted and white (pre over painting) examples of the same figurines!, and down in the basement wonderful rooms filled with painted Bavarian furniture (a complete bedroom set for one) and local redware pottery that looks so like the painted furniture and Redware from Pennsylvania!

Some wonderful embroidery pieces-this is one of two couples that are the center design of this “courtly love” 14-15th century Bavarian embroidery.

Posted by PicasaIt was very dark in this room and I, of course, didn’t use a flash-wow! the wonders of digital manipulation!)