Monday, March 29, 2010


So, where were we?  Oh - we were talking about entering quilt shows. Well, I thought that I had this great piece - it was borderline, falling somewhere between traditional and art quilt. I had NO idea what category to place it in. My friends were little help.  So, I took this huge leap and went for - what DID I go for?  I can hardly remember, but what I DO remember is that it was, sadly, out of its element, sandwiched in between a Log Cabin and a Double Wedding Band.

I spent soooo much time finishing this piece.  It was hand-quilted, using a splendid woolen batt and a very spidery slippery variegated quilting thread (which made me weep with frustration over the knots) and THOUSANDS of Czech glass beads in the margins.  TONS of hours, hand quilted.  I had an esoteric title for it too, 'Duffer's Fortnight', which is a magical time that any good fly fisherman worth his salt would understand.  It went right over the heads of my collective judges.  They gave it an Honorable Mention.

I was ok about the award.  Disappointed, but holding my own.  The thing is this - walking out of the exhibit I had the opportunity to speak with my icon - Ms. Joan Lintault.  This woman truly defines quilting and if you don't believe me, go check out her website.  She had come along with some of us to see this show, which was, to my mind, even more exciting than attending the show!  Anyway, leaving the pavilion I fell into step with her and she turned and looked me right in the eye and chuckled.  She said, "want some advice?" (I almost fell to my knees) I managed to squeak out a timid 'yes'.  "Lose the ties", she said, and walked away.

The ties.  I had tied certain areas of the quilt, thinking that it added to the theme (fly fishing, hand ties....) I thought that it was a clever addition to an already over-embellished quilt.  And, in my defense, I happen to LIKE ties.  I like the old-fashioned application - I like the little hills and valleys and puckers that occur - I like the vast array of threads available to choose from.  I like that Joan was so succinct.  

How did it go so wrong?
I mean, just LOOK at the detail (and those ties - those lovely ties!)
I used hundreds of Miyuki glass beads to embellish several of the trout bellies!  (It was great fun and when over, I had graduated to the next level in corrective eye wear)
I truly love this quilt - hands down, my all-time favorite.  Flaws and all.  Kind of a self-portrait.
Fish, fireflies, sunrise, deep liquid pools and even a bee - all of the elements for a perfect day on the water -

Thus, the beginning and end of my quilt show career!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


A few years ago some of my quilting friends encouraged me to enter a local quilt show.  I had only thrown my 'hat' in the ring one time prior to this show, and the results were heady and memorable.  I sent a patriotic piece that I had made for my son, who had become a career firefighter that year, to the local county fair.  That's right, the LOCAL. COUNTY. FAIR.  Oh, and did I mention that this show commenced in 2002? The tragedy of 911 still clung heavily to New York hearts, especially here in Dutchess County, 80 miles north of Manhattan, where we suffered many personal losses.   Suffice to say, I won.  Oh, I won BIG!  Best In Show, Best Hand-Quilted Piece, Judge's Choice Award.  I'm sure that I didn't deserve all of that, but it's ok.  My karma was about to be leveled in a major way!  
Can you tell that this just came out of the cedar chest, without the benefit of a good press?  It lives here with me, at my son's request, until he has a home of his own.  Harley seems contemplative.  He's probably wondering why he hasn't had his breakfast yet.  And why that quilt smells a little like Andrew ...

It's fun to look back - I used every technique that I knew - machine embroidery, hand quilting, paper-piecing, hand embroidery - no beading!  Anyway, you can see why it captured the Judges' post-911 hearts. 

 Sometimes I wish that we could return to the feeling we seemed to embrace back then - people were kinder, for a moment in time.  You felt it at every turn - on the highway, in the market, at church.  It took an unspeakable tragedy to unite this country, but how quickly we have forgotten what that meant.   I won't even start - the road rage, the inhumane treatment of animals, the war, the killing fields right here at home - on our playgrounds and in our schools.  I am not suggesting that we need another horrific hit - simply, I wish that people would or could TRY to embrace the 'random acts of kindness' that we know to be healing.  Restorative.  Human.  It's a place to start.

I digress.  The Quilt Show.  It was the Real Deal, with qualifications and fees and schedules.  There were a lot of entries and the work was Really Really Good!  But more about that, next time. 

It's Palm Sunday, so I need to count my blessings and think about the tremendous sacrifice that was made 2000 years ago for me.   And for you.  

Saturday, March 27, 2010


A celebration - 100 posts for The Daily Fiber.   I don't make attachments easily, but this form of journaling has wrapped its arms around me and held on.  And, unlike all of those beautiful notebooks that I've collected and partially filled over the years, THIS story telling 'vessel' provides the photographic illustrations so that you can 'see' what I see.  The small victories and defeats - the little details and profound events - the many layers, real or imagined.  Your "following" is important to me and my story.  I value each and every comment.
 I have been knitting - my perennial Blue Sky Alpaca "Silk Alpaca" in a color that defines spring for me.  It is almost willow-green - a twin to those first tender shoots that are emerging now.
Airing out the batik 'biscuit' coverlet - old fashioned tied and pieced in those spring greens, caribbean blues ...
The morning began with baking.  My BFF is having family in for the weekend and I volunteered to bring over a cake.  She works so hard during the week that there isn't much energy left by Friday night - and since I am a free agent, without restriction for the next few weeks, I have enough get-up-and-go for the both of us.   I decided to make my 'Bishop's Cake' which is easy and delicious and if there are left-overs - they are sensational to toast.  Basically, it's a glorified pound cake.  I won't tell you how much butter goes into this bad boy.
Out of the oven, sans frosting.  The thing is - this little beauty will never see a frosting.  While I was preparing it, I did something that I have never done in 30+ years of baking; I dropped an eggshell into the batter and before I could turn the mixer off, it incorporated the shell into the mix.  There was no turning back - I fished out what I could and threw the rest into the bundt pan to bake.  I'll set this out, in the form of crumbs, for the birds.  This cake calls for 5 eggs, so I had to go to the little farm up the road and buy more eggs.  Starting over ... but this time I'm in the mood for something a bit more dramatic, and I happen to have some nice oranges waiting in a bowl.
Orange Poppy-Seed Bundt Cake w/Orange Glaze - from the Silver Palate Cookbook

8 TBS sweet butter
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 c flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c milk
1/2 c poppy seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of 2 oranges
orange glaze

Preheat oven to 325, grease a 10" bundt pan
Cream butter with sugar until fluffy and light
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each
Sift dry ingredients together and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk
Fold in poppy seeds, vanilla and grated orange zest
Pour batter into prepared bundt pan
Bake 50 - 60 minutes, let rest in pan for 30 minutes before turning out
When cake has cooled on rack, prick holes in it with a toothpick and pour glaze evenly over the top

Orange Glaze
1/4 c fresh orange juice
1/4 granulated sugar

Combine in a small saucepan and simmer gently for 5 minutes, until a light syrup forms

The daffodils were asking to come home with me this morning.  I picked them from my friend Louise's garden.  Louise is not living in her house any longer, but her spirit remains behind, informing all who stop by that she is far from gone - that she has simply moved on to the next level.  I have a lot to say about Louise and I will, in time.

So I have sent 100 posts out into Blog World.
Before I actually hit my first Publish Post button, I was hyper-aware of my language.  I spent a lot of time editing these short posts.  It was important to me not to bring the sorrow and darkness that I had been experiencing in 2009 to this journal.  I mean, really.  Who wants to 'follow' the posts of a sometimes maniacally depressed individual - one who can be needy and despondent, crazy and depleted, but always, and I mean ALWAYS, willing to pony up the good stuff?   I limped along, dropping little slices of my fiber life and some of you decided to follow me into the woods.  You love to create as I do - to stupid excess!!!!  I think that we are grand.  Thank you all for helping me to be more courageous and authentic.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


It's a gorgeous day in the northeast.  After spending much of the morning in the sewing room, I promised the dogs that we could go out to the garden and plant, roll around, sniff and tackle the asparagus stalks.  Soon, you guys.  Blogging first.  Sewing.  It always calls to me this time of the year.  I went in search of one fine coat pattern yesterday and discovered that I'd stumbled in on the wave of a patten sale.  So I came home with more than the coat pattern.
I scored this pattern for $3.99!  When I first started to sew, patterns cost less than $2.00, so this was an impressive find!  Matching it with fabric will be more difficult - for that, I'll have to get in the car and drive to Norwalk, Connecticut.  There is a fabric mecca there called 'Banksville Fabrics" and I could devote more than one post to them, but I'll save that for a rainy day.
Less than $5.00 for this combo -  just cannot do better than that!
Some silk and seersucker and embroidered linens and rayon ... all leftovers from last year that I will put into action this season. I have a different color palette in mind for this spring, but the local fabric store had ZIP in the way of pale pink and good grays.  Again - a trip to CT is in order.
I ordered this pattern a while ago - I think that it will be fun to create in linen or chambray.  My denim "Bee" shirt is almost completed - I had to opt for a pima cotton to line the plackets and yoke as the denim was thick and unruly.  I hate it when that happens.
The last block was sewn for the "H" quilt and now I have to locate a sensational border.  I have a wild pink/fushia batik in mind - in keeping with the flamingos!
Thanks again to Wanda for the inspiration.  This quilt was a bright spot of color throughout the dreary wintry days - especially the weeks that I spent indoors by myself while Scott was off in the bahamas.  Speaking of which, he jets off again this week.  Where is it written that he gets to build in such gorgeous spots????  Someone has to put their foot down!  He's hired the painters to come and do the hallways while he's gone, and I have guests lined up so I shouldn't complain too much.  But I always do.  It's my job.
Oh - another pattern and the only magazine that I allowed myself - it was that gray lace on the cover that did me in.  I have instituted a freeze on magazine purchases and it's been going pretty well.  I'm good as long as I stay away from Barnes & Noble.  And the LYS.  And the card aisle at the market.  Basically, I cannot go into any stores that feature magazines.  I'm flawed.

Friday, March 19, 2010


This is what I saw when I emerged from my morning shower - Scott was lifting a kitchen floor board.  I had NO idea that this old house had a foundation comprised of FIELD STONE!  No kidding.
This is an interesting time - I hope that I'm not boring you with our house discoveries.  To my mind, this is a beautiful sight:
The talented fellow that walks about on these is turning my hallways into pure poetry!  (and he arrived before 8:00am - who DOES that these days?!)
I'm going to be needing some help with paint choices.  After the wainscoting and chair rails are built and installed, I want to cover the upper walls with a juicy saturated color.  I'm thinking saffron.  Bubbha likes pink.  ANYTHING pink.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


No fecking Irish here, sadly, as I love the culture and especially the brogue.  But there IS the wearing of the green.
Tulips - the first sighting.  They are called 'Marguerita' and you will see why in a few weeks.  The Giant Allium has made its way to the surface, along with the rhubarb...
The strawberry leaves have been green for at least a week or more.  But I think that the best part of a spring morning is how happy it makes this fellow -

And another happy sight - the first shirts flapping on the line - a true testimony to Spring's arrival.  

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Mary Richmond, you are brilliant.  And generous.  Thank you for your 'Anthropologie Inspired Wrap'.  I love it.  I'd been coveting the original and now you have provided me with the next best thing!   
Perhaps the rainy weather has figured in, but pussy willow gray is my color of the moment.  And Cascade 220 Peruvian Wool has just the right shade -  I see this worn with a dove gray linen shift ... maybe a white Tee ..
I'm a little worried because this wrap needs to block out to 15 inches, and it took a 10.5 needle to get gauge.  Mary says that it will work, so I believe her.  (DO check out her blog - Luckyknitter.blogspot)  We share some similar issues with Mother Nature - and I suspect that's just the tip of the iceberg!  One of the things that I've discovered as I continue on my Blog Journey is that I am not unique - that the world is just brimming with kindred spirits.  I like that.  It's humbling.  

Thursday, March 11, 2010


And sheet rock - it can multiply one's happiness beyond measure!
After living in this old house for three years w/o walls and ceilings in the dual hallways - we have SHEET ROCK!  I think that it is most beautiful.  Before you know it, those lovely old wood floors will be unveiled as well - and, forgive me while I race ahead - there will be REAL sconces on the wall and a magnificent victorian sofa cradled between ... 

Surprising how a bit of renovation can lift one's March spirits.

An ordinary trip to the green grocer provides promises of the spring garden - I am eager to get started this season.  Each year in the garden is a new opportunity to rethink the old methods.  In 2010, raised beds fascinate me.  Scott is not so eager to experiment because, after all, HE will be the builder of the beds !  

Friday, March 5, 2010


We all took the day off and drove to Albany.  My knitting bag came along and remained untouched, in the back seat.  There were bigger and more important things to focus on.  I give you Carson - brand new NYS Correction Officer who walked off with two of the four awards.
Physical Performance and Firearms Proficiency.  Yikes.  He worked hard - gave it his full effort and we applaud him today.  Congratulations Carson - we are so proud and happy for you.  Now we have a firefighter and a CO officer in the family - young brave strong men who believe in service.  Life is full of surprises.

I cannot speak for Carson's mom, but I know that when we were told that Andrew was in the top 5% of all math students in this country and invited to a Johns Hopkins program, I thought that he might become a nuclear physicist or a professor of mathematics or an architect or even some kind of engineer.  Firefighting was not the profession that I dreamed or would have chosen for him.  Running into buildings, risking his life to save others, just never figured up there at the top of the 'career' list.  But I love my son, and he's shown me that this choice is not about me, and I'll echo the sentiment to Carson - this is all about YOU and living your life the way you envision and dream it to be.  We love you, support you, and are so very proud of you.  May you have a career that is safe and fulfilling in all ways - from my mouth, to God's ears.