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Archive for March 13th, 2011

Turkey Tracks: Katie Climbing Trees

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Turkey Tracks:  March 13, 2011

Katie Climbing Trees

 When I went to visit my brother’s family on my recent trip to Williamsburg, his youngest daughter Katie met me as I got out of the car.  She came with big hugs.  Then, she climbed this tree.

Do you remember climbing trees when you were little?

Do you remember the feeling of accomplishment and power you felt?

How easy it is to forget such a simple pleasure.

It’s going to be so interesting to see what trees Katie climbs in the years to come.

Written by louisaenright

March 13, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Turkey Tracks: Williamsburg 2011

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Turkey Tracks:  March 13, 2011

Williamsburg 2011

Every year for at least the past 10 years, this group of quilters has gathered in Williamsburg, Virginia, to spend a week with each other quilting, visiting, eating together, visiting local quilt shops, and attending the Mid-Atlantic Regional quilt show in, now, Norfolk.  (It started in Williamsburg in multiple hotels.)  Other quilters who live in the area also come to visit, to “show and tell,”  and to, perhaps, sew with us for a day or two.

This group started in the now-defunct Falls Church chapter of the Northern Virginia guild.  We were all members of the same “bee,” which was a way to break down the larger Falls Church chapter into smaller, more personal groups that could work together.  One member moved to Roanake, met a quilter there, and the two often come to join us.  But, not this year.      

Rosy Pilkerton, center, pink shirt, organizes us all.  She is a wizard with the time shares she owns, and this year, she had saved points for almost 10 years to have us stay in this HUGE, amazing apartment with FOUR huge bedrooms.  Thank you Rosy!  Your gift to us was so appreciated!  From the left:  Louisa, from Maine; Libia, from Mexico; Rosy, Carrie, and Denise from Northern Virginia.  This year we were missing one quilter, Caroline, whose uncaring boss called a weekend meeting, to which he did not ultimately show, which prevented her from coming.  (He insisted she be at work for this “important” meeting the next week.)  She was terribly missed, and if we could see him, we’d give him a piece of our minds!   

Each of us is uniquely different, and each of us is uniquely special.   We quilt in all different kinds of ways, and, over the years, I’ve learned much of what I know about quilting from these women.   It’s also interesting to see how one of our quilting styles or interests rubs off on others.  My love of clever children’s fabrics stems from watching Rosy make so many charming children’s quilts over the years.   

Since I fly into Norfolk from Maine and since Libia comes from Mexico City, Rosy, Carrie, and Denise organize and bring all our equipment.  Who brings what is now down to a science for them, and everything we need is there:  a cutting table, ironing boards and irons (two),  a portable design wall, rulers, rotary cutters, sewing tables, a box of food staples (salt, pepper, sugar, tea), and so forth.  Carrie always brings me a sewing machine, and Rosy brings me and Libia Ott lights.  This year Libia brought her featherweight from  Mexico.  I had only to bring my project fabrics and small items like scissors, pins, needles, threads, and so forth, which is getting harder with shrinking airline bag sizes and extra charges.  We all come with small gifts for each other as well, and that’s always a fun time.  You’ll walk away from your machine, and when you return, there will be something special there for you. 

The first thing that happens is that we move around furniture so that we are all together in one room.  The dining room table is good for at least 2 sewing stations.  In this palatial palace, it was big enough for three.  Carrie and Denise set up in the tables next to the wall.  Denise brought fabrics for a large quilt that would be strip pieced.  She had to cut and sew a ton of strips, cut them, and sew more.   

 The cutting table is behind Libia–in front of sliding doors to a patio that overlooked a little pond.  It was warm enough on a few days to sit outside in the sun.  The living room and TV were in this room.   

And the ironing boards are along a wall in the kitchen. 

Here are some “works in progress”:

 Libia made TWO  twin-sized quilts from these tiny squares.  Here’s one of the tops finished:

And here’s one of the quilt tops Carrie finished almost right away!  She made another BIG one and a new purse.  Carrie has a new long-arm too, and we watched a set of instructional videos together during the week. 

And, here’s a picture of a Christmas quilt with very unusual fabric that Rose was putting the binding on.  The back is a warm, red fabric. 

 Here’s my most favorite picture I took all week:

I miss them all already.   What a lovely week we had.

Written by louisaenright

March 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Turkey Tracks: Warm and Wonderful

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Turkey Tracks:  March 13, 2011

Warm and Wonderful

Here’s another scrappy quilt made wholly from my stash.  This one uses the 4-inch blocks, and can I tell you, I have at least enough bright ones left to make a whole other quilt! 

What I had fun with here is the placement of the paper doll blocks.  The first one was an accident; I was just using warm colored 4-inch squares roughly alternated with neutrals.  Linda McKinney passed through the quilt room one day and expressed delight with the faces and feet now scattered about the quilt.   So, I deliberately did more and placed them advantageously. 


Here’s a close-up, so you can see some of the quilting.  I’ve learned to use stencils and pounce powder (or erasable chalk pencils) to trace in stencil lines and then to quilt them.  You can see a bird and a dragonfly, at least, in this picture.  And, I densely quilted.  This quilt is a lap size, about 56 x 72, and it took FOUR industrial-sized bobbins.  I used a commercial big-cone thread and had no problems with thread breakage.  Indeed, this is the first quilt I’ve done on Lucy with which I felt really at-ease.  

The backing is a warm beige that, it turned out, I had enough of to make the batting.   


Warm and Wonderful was made especially for someone special. 

Written by louisaenright

March 13, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Turkey Tracks: Spinner

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Turkey Tracks:  March 13, 2011


I’ve been on a mission to use up more of my stash fabrics.  After all, I loved them when I bought them.  And, it’s true that I still love most of them now.

Whenever I finish a quilt, I cut small leftover pieces of fabric into the largest useable square I can, beginning with 6 inches and going down to 2 inches and 1 1/2 inch strips for log cabins.  Lately, though, especially after making this quilt, I’ve been cutting pieces into useable strips and not cutting further since this quilt needed a rectangle, not a square, so I had to cut those extra. 

The 8-inch “Spinner” block was designed by Bonnie Hunter and appeared in the March April 2010 (#132) issue of QUILTMAKER magazine.  Her idea is as you cut and sew other projects, you make a few of these blocks here and there, and soon, you’ll have enough for a quilt.  I found myself putting aside other projects and making all of these blocks uninterrupted.  They’re fairly addictive.     

What is helping control the quilt is the repeating red square within each block and across the quilt–a tactic Hunter recommends.  Here is a rather fuzzy picture since somehow very often I can’t seem to hold the camera still reliably.  But, note, also, the little quilt to the left, which was made from the small triangles that are cut off of Spinner’s large rectangle’s flip and sew method.  That small quilt is called “Essence,” since a friend who saw it on the design board said that it was the essence of the large quilt.  Essence is almost finished now, so will appear here soon no doubt.   


I quilted Spinner on Lucy the Long Arm, and I think it came out rather well.  I learned to use a round template on the outside borders.  I think I had old thread, however, and struggled with thread breaking a lot.  I got an additional thread spike that sits close to the take-up arm on the machine, so maybe that will help with the Mettler cottons I use for machine quilting on the domestic machine.   

 The pink pig backing, seen below, came when I realized Marge of Mainely Sewing in Nobleboro had some of this fabric left.  Remember that Karen Johnson,  The Community School student who learned to make a quilt with me last year, used it to back her quilt?  In fact, this quilt is very like Karen’s quilt, which probably shows how much I liked what she did.   You can see Karen’s quilt in the May 17, 2010, post called “Two Quilts.”  


Don’t know who it’s going to yet.

Written by louisaenright

March 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Turkey Tracks: Red Fish Quilt

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Turkey Tracks:  March 13, 2011

Red Fish Quilt

 I finished the Red Fish quilt.  I started it the summer of 2010 in a class with Jo Diggs at the Pine Tree Quilters’ Guild show. 

 Here it is:

 Each piece was hand appliqued onto the hand-dyed background fabric.  I hand quilted around each appliqued piece to make them stand out from the fabric.   I hand quilted the green fauna in the foreground bottom and the dark hillock at the bottom.  But, the hand quilting on applique shapes didn’t show up, and there were too many layers to do it easily.  So, as I machine piece well, I used that skill to get the final effects I wanted and to make the three thread painted little blue fish.   In retrospect, leaving the small fish’s fins and tails alone might have been a better choice…  I don’t think the quilt needs more beading than it has. 

There are more hours in this little quilt than I want to think about, and I’m glad it’s finished.  I have even more respect for Jo Diggs who makes BIG quilts using this method.  Take a moment and look at her gallery, and you’ll see what I mean:  http://www.jodiggs.com/jodiggs/Gallery.html.    

Here’s a very close-up view of a piece of the quilt. 

Written by louisaenright

March 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Turkey Tracks: Blowing My Nose in Style

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Turkey Tracks:  March 13, 2011

Blowing My Nose in Style

On January 19, 2011, I wrote a post called “Cutting the Waste Stream and Detoxing the Kitchen.”  One of my issues of the past few years has been how to cut back on the amount of paper we use.  My use of paper towels, napkins, and, now that I think about it, toilet paper, seemed/seems excessive.  So, I’ve been searching for ways to cut back. 

Paper Towels:  I’m happy to report that our paper towel use is practically nonexistent.  So nonexistent that I can’t remember when I used one last.  Putting a bowl of cheap white (so I can see stains) wash cloths on the kitchen counter is working beautifully.  They can be used to where I would have once used paper towels.  (I do not use them to wipe out the cast iron skillet, but more on that in a minute.)  They can also be used inside a bag of lettuce or anything going into the refrigerator than needs a bit of drying.  I could also use them to drain bacon slices, though I’ve mostly just put the cooked slices on a plate.  Once cooled, they reabsorb the fat, and meat fat does not make you fat or hurt your heart, contrary to the low-fat ideology of the past 30-40 years.  As for cleaning the skillet, we pour off extra fat for the dogs and chickens, or for us sometimes, like saving bacon fat or using the glorious fat from a beef or lamb roast on toast the next day–all traditional practices lost over the past 40 years.  A swishing with hot water in the sink takes out the residue in the skillet, and drying the pan with a bit of heat preserves its all-important coating.

I also bought two washcloths for each of our bathrooms, put them under the sink, and use them to spot clean the bathroom.  (Our cleaning woman already uses rags and washcloths to clean the house–she brings them with her.)  That’s working well, too. 

All the washcloths just get thrown into the laundry every week.  If some are dirtier or greasier than others, they go into the pile of dish cloths, etc., that might need either a bit of clorox (winter) or line bleaching (summer). 

Paper Napkins:  We’ve been using our cloth napkins at the dinner table–and reusing them until they are demonstrably dirty.  Growing up, we did not wash cloth table napkins every day.  One had a set place at the table and reused one’s  napkin.  Not doing so saves on water, soap, and energy as well as NOT using paper napkins.  But, for me, who for most of my life has had a chronically runny nose (driven I now realize mostly by food allergies), paper napkins were needed as kleenex just wasn’t strong or thick enough.  So, one day this winter, we had lunch with old Tufts friends of  John’s, Jack and Barbara Moore, of the schooner Surprise, and Jack pulled out a BIG, sturdy, handkerchief from his pants pocket.  It was one of those colored bandanas like we now use to decorate the necks of dogs.  When I said “YES!” and explained my search, he told me he bought them at Reny’s (our local version of a mixed-bag kind of store) for under $2 each.  John and I went that same day and got some.  John got a manly navy blue, and I got these:


They were a little stiff at first, but are now, after several washings, soft as butter.  And, I love them!  They’re so much nicer than paper napkins, and they are so much bigger and sturdier than any of the white handkerchiefs I could find online.

Toilet Paper:   Well this issue is tougher, as Colin Beaven discovered when he started his “No Impact Man” blog and the press became obsessed with the family’s toilet habits.  (Beaven’s blog resulted in a book and a documentary.)  To backtrack, Colin, his wife, and their young daughter attempted to erase or to balance  their energy use footprint for one year, though they lived in New York City.  Toilet paper requires a lot of energy to produce, process in sewage, etc.   And, Beaven points out:  “More than half the world believes that washing their nether regions is far more hygienic than using toilet paper, a practice largely confined to our Western culture.”   I wasn’t surprised to read Beaven’s  information as a few years back, my book club had read Mohja Kahf’s THE GIRL IN THE TANGERINE SCARF:  A NOVEL, wherein the Muslim/American female protagonist does a whole riff on how Muslims view Americans as walking around with and sleeping with dirty nether regions.  Think about it. 

I tried, here at home, to wash rather than to wipe after reading Beaven’s book.  It’s not hard as long as you’re  next to the sink where you can put warm water into a container stored by the toilet.  It’s a bit awkward from lack of practice, of course.  And a container that pours is better than one that doesn’t.  It’s impossible in a public restroom or in someone else’s home.  You do need a container and a drying washcloth or towel–not items one carries around or that friends’ bathrooms supply.  In any case, it is MUCH cleaner, so the half of the world that washes rather than wipes is right about the cleanliness aspect of this issue.

Anyway, I’m pleased with how we’ve been able to curtail our paper use.  It’s a step in a needed direction, a step that refuses to be part of the extraction economy.  And a reminder that sometimes those who live in different cultures or who lived “back in the day” might have better practices than we do.