Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A little machine quilting and a little Jane Stickle quilt progress

What a busy time of year! With house guests, classes and all I've hardly had time to quilt, visit blogs and except for Tuesday Tomes I haven't posted in weeks!

I did get one day to mark the Drunkard's Path quilt and because of the discussion here on using the Hera Marker I decided to try marking a cable using worked. I've usually just used it for straight lines but you can see in this pix the Hera marks and the one line already quilted. Its actually quite easy to see under the light of the sewing machine...and it must have been at least 10 days between when I marked the quilt and actually quilted!
Here's the cable completely quilted...
and here I added the free motion design right up to the edge of the cable...I've always wanted to do this on a quilt. And this is how the quilt sits...I now want to continue the "flowers" on the other side of the cable and between the yellow squares-I'm hoping to get to it soon. I've often taken months to finish a hand quilted quilt but this is the first time I've been so busy that a machine quilted quilt is languishing!
I have been sewing Jane blocks...well I sort of have to if I want to be ready for class! I am enjoying hand appliquing these blocks...
I always baste up an entire block of whatever I'm working on and then I can just sit and applique when I have time (usually sitting on the sofa next to DH in the evenings). The block on the upper right was curved pieced and then the little diamonds appliqued...
the bottom left was reverse appliqued-I haven't done much of that and totally enjoyed it! On the bottom right is a whole pile of basted blocks just waiting to be finished.

I'm now paper piecing some blocks...not my favorite technique but useful for those blocks with teeny tiny pieces-pix will follow.

Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season! (and those on the East Coast are enjoying the snow!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesdays Tomes: Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of mainly vintage books.

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Its time for some Gothic fun!

Beautiful, sweet, lonely Laura remembers a terrible dream from her childhood…she was just six years old and awoke to find a beautiful woman in her room. She spoke gently to Laura and lay down beside her. Laura fell back to sleep only to be violently awoken-screaming- by the feeling of two sharp pricks in her chest. Her nursemaid ran in-no marks were found on Laura and there was definitely no sign of any nocturnal visitor.

Years pass. One day a young woman and her mother, traveling near the Schloss where Laura and her father live, have a carriage accident. The daughter is shook up, ill and the mother must continue her journey…the daughter comes to stay at the Schloss for a few weeks to recuperate. The daughter’s name is Carmilla.

This is a fun read…written in 1872 (years before Bram Stokers famous book), it is psychological mystery rather than horror. Who is moody Carmilla? How does Laura feel about her new friend?

Jan asked in her comment last week, how do I find these books? I just troll through Librivox…I do download and listen to a lot of books. I don’t always finish them-I may find the story boring or the reader doesn’t suit me-but there are always lots more ready and waiting for me to discover. I love the different sensibility of these vintage tales and the different society that produced them.

Take this week’s book-now I confess I thoroughly enjoy watching Vampire Diaries on Tuesdays (lucky for me-its DH’s bridge night ) and here’s an interesting question: why is popular culture of the late 19th century and the late 20th/ early 21st century fascinated by the same idea?)

Read by the always wonderful Elizabeth Klett, you can download this free audiobook here or the free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here.

Not in the mood to read…well, you can watch Carmilla here…I’ll get you started.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesdays Tomes: The Uttermost Farthing by R. Austin Freeman

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of mainly vintage books.

The Uttermost Farthing by R. Austin Freeman

The Uttermost Farthing is definitely one of the strangest tales I’ve ever read. Mr. Humphrey Challoner lost his beloved wife just two years after their marriage. She surprised a burglar and was shot dead. The police can’t find the burglar/murderer and he vows to himself that he will bring the criminal to justice.

When we first meet him it is twenty years later and he has filled the time since his wife’s death amassing a strange anthropological collection.

He bequeaths his collection to his friend, Dr. Wharton, telling him that he will find the story of the collection in the Museum’s catalogues -written in diary style and telling the tale of each acquisition. We read the catalogue entries along with Dr. Wharton…

R. Austin Freeman, a British author, is one of those authors that I just knew nothing about until I read this book and wrote this review. Famed for his detective fiction featuring Dr. Thorndyke and credited with creating the reverse crime story-the first half tells you the crime (and maybe even the perpetrator) and the second half is all about how the crime is solved and the criminal caught. Sounds intriguing and I’m going to hop on over to Librivox and see if they have a Dr. Thorndyke mystery.

The Uttermost Farthing was published in the US in 1914 and in the UK 6 years later and under a different title: The Savant’s Vendetta. Perfectly read by MaryAnn Spiegel, you can download this free audio-book here or the free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesdays Tomes: Christmas Holidays at Merryvale by Alice Hale Burnett

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of mainly vintage books.Christmas Holidays at Merryvale by Alice Hale Burnett is a little bit of Christmas cheer. This very short book written in 1916 and intended for very young readers is a delight for readers of all ages. It is part of Burnett's series for young boys and follows three fun filled days leading up to and including Christmas morning...looking in at the toy store window and hoping, a snowball fight (with forts!), a sleigh ride to get the tree and children's generosity towards other children.

Cheerfully read by Kara Shallenberg, you can download this free audio-book here, the free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here or just read it on-line here.

I'm sharing the lovely pencil drawn illustrations:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

More Jane Blocks

I've been busy on Jane...I'm almost done with row A. I have more blocks but they're in parts...I don't think mentioned that I'm leading a Jane Club (and also teaching a class) but I am and I've left those blocks unfinished for demonstration purposes-I should have the row done next week.

I'm not particularly fond of paper piecing so I use it sparingly. Most of the blocks are done by rotary cutting (or templates as in the green block) but I did use paper piecing for the triangles in the top block. Have you noticed that 2 of my little squares are little rectangles? LOL-I cheated a little on this block-I added a seam so that there were no set-in seams. Couldn't do that with A13-the green block. I don't think I've ever seen a block with so many set seams...everything but the center. I'm really enjoying doing this...I'm only using the book and its fun for me to figure out the best way to sew the blocks.
Wishing everyone celebrating a Happy Hannukah...just got that in-today's the last day.
(Yeah, I took this photo the night before last! :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesdays Tomes: My Man Jeeves by P.G. Woodhouse

Tuesday Tomes is a weekly book review of mainly vintage books.

My Man Jeeves by P.G. Woodhouse

In this 1919 collection of 8 short stories (many which appeared earlier in the US in the Saturday Evening Post and in the UK in the Strand ) only half actually feature Jeeves…the first three and the last but it really doesn’t matter-the rest feature Reggie Pepper and the entire collection is humorous.

In the first three stories, Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves are in New York City for their adventures with Bertie’s friends. Here’s how Bertie describes his invaluable valet:

Jeeves--my man, you know--is really a most extraordinary chap. So capable. Honestly, I shouldn't know what to do without him. On broader lines he's like those chappies who sit peering sadly over the marble battlements at the Pennsylvania Station in the place marked "Inquiries." You know the Johnnies I mean. You go up to them and say: "When's the next train for Melonsquashville, Tennessee?" and they reply, without stopping to think, "Two-forty-three, track ten, change at San Francisco." And they're right every time. Well, Jeeves gives you just the same impression of omniscience.’

“Leave it to Jeeves”…how famous is that line and how I wish I had a Jeeves to leave it all too. You know a clever chappy who could not only tell me what clothes look good on me and how to wear my hair most becomingly but who could solve the little problems of my friends as well…well, solve their problems in the same way that House almost kills his patients before curing them!

Have you ever spent any time at the shore? Here’s a peak at what Reggie Pepper has to say about it from “Helping Freddie”

‘Do you know Marvis Bay? It's in Dorsetshire. It isn't what you'd call a fiercely exciting spot, but it has its good points. You spend the day there bathing and sitting on the sands, and in the evening you stroll out on the shore with the gnats. At nine o'clock you rub ointment on the wounds and go to bed.

It seemed to suit poor old Freddie. Once the moon was up and the breeze sighing in the trees, you couldn't drag him from that beach with a rope. He became quite a popular pet with the gnats. They'd hang round waiting for him to come out, and would give perfectly good strollers the miss-in-baulk just so as to be in good condition for him.’

For a fun, humorous look at life on the rich side on both sides of the Pond, you can’t do any better than this wonderfully written, genteel collection. Perfectly read by Mark Nelson, you can download this free audio-book here or the free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here. (Its thanks to a reader’s comment that I thought to look for P.G. Woodhouse at Librivox!)

Here's Hugh Laurie as Bertie and Steven Frye as Jeeves

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Machine quilting between forest fire updates

Have you heard about the terrible forest fire here? It started on Thursday morning. 42 Prison Service officer cadets were killed when their bus got trapped by the fire-they were on their way to help evacuate people. A police car following was also caught by the fire. Several people are in the hospital in critical condition.

Kibbutz Beit Oren was completely destroyed. Yesterday, help arrived from all over. Cyprus, Greece and Turkey were the first to arrive with large fire fighting planes. This morning I heard that a really large plane arrived from Russia. With this help the fire fighters started to get the fire under control yesterday but during the night, when the planes couldn't fly, the wind came up again and by this morning two towns were under threat.

This is not the usual season for forest fires-let alone the worst fire ever-as its supposed to be the rainy season. We had one small rain in October and nothing since. The weather forecast is for scattered rainfall tomorrow...I just hope it rains up north here. We're east of the fire and don't even see a hazy horizon-just a hot sun and clear blue sky.

Between watching news reports, I've been doing a little machine quilting on the drunkard's path quilt. I decided to do a hanging diamond grid on the yellow...that's done by sewing parallel vertical lines (I'd done that already) and then crossing them with 45 degree diagonal lines. I used a Hera Marker to mark the lines-it just creates a crease in the fabric. It works great on a quilt sandwich...when I first got it I tried to mark just the top-that doesn't work.
I sewed each row with my walking foot. When I got to a white area-I finished off but didn't pull and cut the threads. I lifted the presser foot and moved past the white area and started can see the line of thread across the white area-look on the far left of the white. After I finished a line, then I went back and cut the threads, front and back and started on the next line.
I used the little guide that fits on my walking foot too...sometimes I'm a little obsessive. For the first set of plain vertical lines, I just used the guide but I was nervous about doing that on the diagonal...for one thing-the white areas would pop in at different heights so I didn't always have a starting spot from the previous line. I just eye balled it for the vertical lines but it actually was easier with the markings.
Here its sewn...pretty cool! I've always wanted to do a quilt with a hanging diamonds grid-I can't believe how many long-time goals are getting completed with this quilt. Now I have all those threads to bury...