Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Favorite Quilt from the 2013 Vermont Quilt Festival

You will note that I said "A" favorite quilt from the 2013 Vermont Quilt Festival, for in truth I had many and for different reasons.  I did decide to feature them in separate blogs to do them justice.

Years ago I stood in back of a child while both of us were admiring a full-sized art quilt and were reading the blurb written by the artist.  It stated that the quilter had taken more than a year to complete the quilt and the child was expressing his astonishment, as I was doing the same.  The child was blown away by the fact that any project should take THAT long and I was blown away that it took her ONLY that long.

I have many quilts started that won’t be finished for ten or fifteen years or more.  For me, starting a quilt is one thing and finishing it is quite another, though I relate to my started quilts like they are already done, for in my mind, I can see their intricate borders and detailed hand-quilting.  I hope to live long enough to finish mine, though I continue to plan more?

Back to the 2013 Vermont Quilt Festival and one of my favorite quilts. The pictures are worth more than any words so I will spare my readers.   Do note the beautiful quilting!! Picture-taking at shows must respect the other viewers and often the lighting is less than optimal to properly catch the full beauty of the quilts, and so it is with this quilt!  I am so glad, however, for the opportunity to see them and thanks to my husband and daughter, to see them again and share them with my readers!!  My congratulations and thanks to Georgia Spalding Pierce for sharing this beautifully designed and quilted work of art!!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My Inspiration: The Vermont Quilt Festival

Every year I treat myself to a day of inspiration and go the the Vermont Quilt Festival.  While I am inspired by pictures in magazines, books, and on-line and attend smaller quilt shows, this is the big day that I can’t wait for every year!

It is always toward the end of June, close to my birthday, which is rather significant, as truly I feel like my creative spirit is reborn after seeing all that there is to see. Besides the many beautiful quilts displayed, there are vendor booths with every imaginable sewing notion, materials of all types, patterns, books, and artwork for sale. The demonstrations of new techniques is always fascinating too!

My birthday gift is my family joining me in this event and taking photos so I can enjoy these quilts for years to come. Gifting me with a bit of cash to spend there, is always a treat as well, for I will not see such variety of sewing wares for another whole year! More and more vendors now sell on line as well and so, when my money runs out, which it always does, I have a collection of  business cards directing me to on-line shopping opportunities for the rest of the year!

Being surrounded with other sewers as well is wonderful.  I find that we are all “cut from the same cloth”! To date I have never attended their classes, but for those that are more able bodied, it is typically a three day event and lodging and transportation are available!  One day is about all my body and brain will hold of this splendor and I find myself oohing and awing and talking to other quilters and sewers as we admire the fine artwork displayed.

Instead of downsizing my collection of sewing stuffs, I am still avidly dreaming, scheming and collecting.  My ideas bounce off of what I see and I pray that I will live as long as Grandma Moses and be so prolific in my stitching as she was in her painting.

My joy truly comes from designing and stitching and it is becoming almost an obsession for me. I laughed not long ago telling another sewer of the great estate sale that expanded my library of materials, patterns and threads and launched my business.  I figure that my greatest gift to the world will be the estate sale following my passing, though  I am not going to downsize until I have taken my last stitch....and then I will be so happy to pass on my sewing collection to another that will love them as I do!

For  quilters, textile artists, fabricaholics, or those who simply love home-arts as I do, don’t miss putting this event on your calendar for next year.  You can find all the information you need to know to plan ahead for this show on their website http://www.vqf.org/. Information is there too for those that wish to enter one of their own quilts in this fine display! They say it is the oldest and biggest Quilt Show in New England and their collection of antique quilts is wonderful as well.  I am not paid to advertise for them, but I am merely passing onto my readers that if you haven’t ever attended this quilt show, it is worth making a trip to Vermont to see!

(I will feature some of my favorite quilts in my future blogs.  They were all so beautiful and deserve taking them one at a time to fully appreciate their detail!)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Zeldie Notes That The Chickens are Gone...

Almost all the hens are gone to Maria and Jon’s Open Farm (http://www.fullmoonfiberart.com/) . They went with their packets of bird seed, just in case they get “peckish” being away from home.  My computer doesn’t know the word peckish, but raise chickens and you will know just what they can do when they get cross and decide to pick on another!

Zeldie, my cat misses them terribly!  For some reason, she grew attached to them in the process of creating them. I would keep them on my dining room table and one day I found her head sticking up among theirs.  I went for the camera, but Zeldie seemed to know and the picture never happened.

As my dining room is open to the rest of the house, without doors to shut her out, I tried to train her to keep away. When that failed, I took to covering them just in case Zeldie considered them her play pals. I would then find her carefully stretched out across their backs. Needless to say, the hens were soon finished and quickly tucked into my craft storage room, a room with a door!

Zeldie continued to seek them out, and has now taken to sleeping across a batch of pincushions on my table. I keep them covered well. I can’t help but wonder if she thinks she is hatching more chickens? This is but one of many” Zeldie” stories.  She truly has a life of her own though she resides with us.  Cats I have learned are never owned by anyone.

We have a lab/coon-hound dog as well, and unlike Zeldie, Cassie knows her place.  She has a special bed in several rooms and that is where you will find her, though sometimes if Zeldie gets there first, you will find Zeldie instead of Cassie.  Zeldie has her own bed, but that is not the one she prefers. Now that I think about it, this is a pattern of hers, claiming what is not hers and making it her own...even the back of my sofa has a blanket across the back now and my “vacation chair” too!

And remember my sister’s comforter that I was making? I had to spread tin foil over it to keep her off of it while working on it, and then there was the Sashiko log cabin quilt that I was writing about, one of my first blog series,yet to be completed.  It became one of her “pet projects”, forgive the pun!.  She bit a few tiny holes in the back of it and I am still waiting to applique a penny rug on its back to cover the mended holes. It will read “by Zelda and Jane McMillen 2012” and I will appliqué her paw prints along with my embroidered signature. She does have a way of uniquely adding work to my work!

She is my “mostly” and "sweetest" companion and I will miss her when her short life is over! Life will, however, then be filled with quilts on beds, furniture left uncovered and projects safely laid out on my dining room table again! Whoops, what am I thinking? Cats have nine lives and add to it my one life and that makes ten lives for Zeldie!

P.S. Don't forget Jon and Maria's Open Farm this Sunday, July 21st. There will be lots of artwork of animals with attitudes for sale in Maria's studio. Don't miss it! Visit her blog by clicking on the link above for further details!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Victorious Women of Today--Of Course They Can!

During World War I and II people were urged to plant their own garden either in their own yard or in public parks to reduce pressure on public food supply.  It was considered to be a patriotic gesture as well as a civil morale booster during war times. Don’t miss the wonderful poster art that goes with these times. (Simply Google "Victory Garden Posters"--where I found these great ones!)

My favorite image is one in my head that combines these two posters: one of the woman pictured with her arms full of canned produce and the writing “Of course I Can” and the other of a Rosie-the-Riveter sort of woman, flexing her muscle and holding a pitch fork, though in my head she would be holding the canned produce instead.

While I was usually too tired from working to garden, I did enjoy being friends of nearby farmers that were willing to pass on the extra produce of  their gardens, just as I passed on my tomatoes and pumpkins the first year we moved to Vermont when I, too, had extras to share! I am proud to have joined the ranks of women that can proudly hail, “O Course I Can!”.

My first serious gardening experience turned out to be a tomato orchard, as I naively re-planted 98 tomato plants along with too many pumpkin seeds! (Read about the tomato farmer here). I never imagined they would grow and produce like they did and instead of opening a garden stand, and reaping the rewards of my efforts to send my kids to college, I “bought” new friends in this foreign rural land of Vermont, not an altogether bad investment.  Some friendships didn't last past the free-give-away-tomato-stage, but perhaps earned me victory points in heaven for contributing to spaghetti sauces for many a table? I also learned from a girlfriend that green tomatoes covered with a heavy blanket and left on a sheltered porch will ripen, providing fresh tomatoes throughout the entire winter, as opposed to my mushy frozen tomatoes good only for stews, soups and sauces.

The real success of this one-time surreal garden experience was that I planted the seeds of hope in my children becoming gardeners one day. And now we have a very real "Victory Garden" right in our own backyard. It has been my oldest daughter's work-in-progress for the past few years. It is a happy place and we are enjoying home-grown rhubarb, carrots, radishes, lettuce, broccoli, kale, dill, basil and peas and are looking forward to tomatoes, beans, squash and pumpkins as well!

I cheer for every dish put on the table straight from our garden.  I know the work involved and bless my daughter for all her efforts and seem to be getting used to our yard having that “potting shed” look.
Though our garden doesn't have the manicured look I prefer, it is wonderful to have it filled with fresh growing produce and the flower beds spilling over with a wonderful variety of flowers. Gardens are a lot of work, especially for people who work full time, but no matter what your garden looks like, it makes for good and healthy eating!! Thanks to my strong and capable daughter, Hannah, we have some wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables and will again count ourselves among the women who can proudly tout, "Of Course I Can! ( I, of course, credit the garden to Hannah's efforts instead of my own, but will join in putting up the produce and eating it too!

About my oldest daughter, Hannah: She is a graphic artist by degree, though abounds with other talents besides. After working in a local graphic art firm, she moved to Washington State to try her hand at working with kids with autism. Successful, but missing home and family, she moved back to Vermont and decided to work a summer at a local green house as a “fun, hobby-sort-of-job” and it has grown into a year-round career. Adding a bit of Yankee ingenuity and creativity, it has grown into one incorporating all of her skills in art, teaching, knowledge of plants and creative selling, albeit, not at the wages she deserves.

She is now in charge of advertising the owners’ four store locations in Vermont and New York, created their catalog, advertising their wonderful custom sheds, garages, green houses, gazebos, and modular cabins.  She is also involved in buying products, displaying and marketing them in their Vermont store as well as organizing the store's events and establishing their Kid’s Club program.

She promotes and shares her gardening and plant knowledge in our rural area and her special children's programs are being incorporated into local school and kid's activity programs as well! Customers appreciate her assistance in selecting plants appropriate to their needs, wants and gardening talents. Of course, this rave review is written by her proud mother who also uses her graphic art talents and computer skills in her Little House Home Arts business and blog! Give credit where it is due, Hannah's talents are beyond her mother's by far! Thank you Hannah for being such a wonderful daughter, business partner, gardener and model for the victorious women of today who also proudly tout, "Of course I CAN-- and DO"!!
(Of course men can CAN too!")

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day Greetings and Winner of July's Common Thread Give-Away

The Winner of July's Common thread Give-Away is:                         
Cindy dv is the winner of July's Common Thread Give-Away Drawing and will be receiving my special pincushion. Yes, Cindy, it is made of felted wool, sewn and embroidered (versus needle felted).  Thank you all for leaving your comments and for visiting my website.  I do hope you will all come back to visit me.  If you weren't a winner this month, don't despair!  Every month we have a free give-away gift and so there will be many opportunities in the future for you to win.

Independence Day Greetings

Our July 4th, Independence Day celebration is now a very simple one.  My husband and I typically watch fireworks in a nearby town. We typically have an ice cream cone as we sit in our lawn chairs across the street from the Rutland Fairgrounds.  After The Annual Demolition Derby is over, the smashed cars paraded by and the sky dark, the fireworks begin. It’s always a lovely display and then everyone in their cars form another parade as we return home.

This holiday was not always so small and simple.  It was my favorite spinster aunt’s birthday and was often the occasion for a big family reunion. When my mother’s sisters gathered, it was no small event! They had grown up on a Nebraska farm and very used to making their own fun and at the center of the celebrations was always great potlucks and special deserts, visiting and storytelling.  Their closeness was infectious and we kids gathered about them ready to listen.  Love, laughter and fun reigned!  Often a back-rub line would form with care to switch positions so the one at the back got equal number of rubs as well.

We never grew tired of listening to their stories.  Many were repeated, but there was always something new to hear, no matter how many times you had heard them. I think my cousins and I wished we could have been one of the sisters and grown up on a farm as their stories were filled with rural adventures that us city kids missed out on.

It is no wonder that I ended up on a farm in Vermont, with one of my cousins in the rural countryside of Vermont as well. It was in our blood, and with it the love of stories and extended family, along with the blessings and sweetness of living in America.

Happy Independence Day to you all!  May your holiday be celebrated with whoever is dear to you!