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Turkey Tracks: “Knitting Myself to Peace”

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Turkey Tracks:  January 21, 2015

“Knitting Myself to Peace”

The thing I love best about quilting, knitting, painting, writing, cooking, gardening, cleaning, etc., is using my hands.

But, hand sewing or knitting or feeding fabric through the sewing machine is deeply peaceful and calming to me.  I miss sewing so much on the days when I can’t carve out some time for it.  I always feel kind of “jangly,” as if, somehow, the sharp edges of the day never got soothed out.  Knitting comes a close second.

Friend Barbara Melchiskey sent me this piece by Sarah Smiley.  And, of course, I understood it and loved it.

I hope you do too.

And that you have something in your daily life that smooths the sharp edges.

Knitting myself to peace — Living — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine.

Written by louisaenright

January 21, 2015 at 10:09 am

Turkey Tracks: Sewing/Knitting Projects Update November 2014

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Turkey Tracks:  November 17, 2014

Sewing/Knitting Projects Update November 2014

Late October (that strange blizzard) and early November have brought a fair amount of inclement weather.  It is snowing off and on today, as a matter of fact.

So, I have been snuggling into a whole array of winter projects.

This big quilt is quilted, and the binding is on.  It is just waiting for me to sew down the binding.  It’s 97 inches square, so it will take some nights of hand sewing.

 

 

 

 

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BUT, I’ve been finishing knitting a white linen shawl at night.  There’s a tale here.  I started this shawl on the J&E Riggin in early September.  I had it completely finished but did not like the tension, so I took it apart and went down a needle size.  I’m much happier with it now, and it’s almost done.  Just a few more nights.

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After linen is knitted, one thoroughly wets it, dries it, and irons it.  In the process, the linen turns soft as butter and very shiny.

Our Coastal Quilters and Georges Valley auction took place last weekend–and look what I bid on and won:

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Gail Galloway Nicholson made this quilt, and Joan Herrick quilted it freehand on her long-arm.

Here’s a closeup:

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It gives me such pleasure to have the work of friends and family in my home.  Everytime I walk past one of these pieces I am reminded of the loved ones involved and of all the wonderful energy that they have put into their work.

You can see that this quilt is so, so happy to live on my coral chair!

I am in the process of making other quilts for this downstairs room.  I need quilts that can be loved, used, and washed–in place of the dog-blanket strategies that live in this sitting room/tv room/den space.  So, here’s a quilt top I’ve just finished that’s going to go on the back of the couch–where Rey Rey likes to hang out so she can see the back door comings and goings:

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Fun, huh?  It’s 85 inches square, and I think I’ll just bind it without adding any borders.  I’ll quilt it when I return from Charleston December 2nd.

Here’s the backing–which is especially nostalgic as grandson Kelly Enright picked it out with me this summer.  He’ll get such a kick out of seeing this quilt with it’s lively backing when he next comes to visit.

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This quilt is made with the 2 1/2-inch strips that I cut up from my stash two summers ago.  I had a HUGE bin filled to the top.  Look now:

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OK, I have a few of the darks and mediums out on the cutting board as I’m using them in another quilt top:

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It’s Bonnie Hunter’s Scrappy Trip Around the World version, and I’m having so much fun putting together various sets of 6 strips for each block (at 16 inches).  Here’s two of the blocks I made yesterday:

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I’ve seen so many variants of this quilt now, and I can’t wait to see how mine develops.  I’m sure the blocks will get moved over and over again until I’m happy with the results.

My leader/ender project now is a low-contrast quilt made with a focus fabric and 2 1/2-inch light and dark blue blocks.  I’m mixing the focus fabric into the four-patch/eight-patch blocks.

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Here’s what’s forming on the design wall–in a dark corner of the wall.  I’m playing with creating a center of 8 pieced blocks surrounding one of the focus fabric squares.  I don’t know how this will work out…   I’m just playing.  I may play with some single 4-patch blocks surrounded with sashings of the focus fabric as well.  Or, use another fabric that co-ordinates.  Who knows?  That’s what play is all about…

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I made a big soup yesterday so was able to quilt until I got hungry.  AND, I’ll freeze some of it to have on the night I return.  The meat is from the turkey I roasted earlier in the year–a turkey from last Thanksgiving that came from my neighbors:  Susan McBride and Chris Richmond of Golden Brook Farm.  Sometime last summer I defrosted the turkey, cut it up, and roasted it.  I froze one-half of the turkey breast and am just now using it.

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I used a chicken bone-broth base (of course), the turkey, and what I had on hand:  frozen tomatoes from the summer, onions, carrots, celery, fresh parsley, rutabaga, some brown rice, and the Indian spices (cumin, coriander, a bit of cinnamon, tumeric).  It’s super delicious!!

My fabrics for Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilt 2014–Grand Illusion–are ironed and ready to go!  I’ll get the first clue the day after Thanksgiving, but will not be able to start it until I get home.  But, I’m ready!

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I leave for Charleston, SC, this Thursday, for the Thanksgiving holidays with my family, and, as always, posting to the blog with the ipad is always chancy–but I’ll take lots of pictures and will post when I get home if all else fails!

 

Turkey Tracks: A Knitted Sock Story

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Turkey Tracks:  March 21, 2014

A Knitted Sock Story

At least six years ago–maybe longer–my Virginia quilting group, which meets every year in Williamsburg for a week, wanted to make socks.

I had probably been making the first socks I was learning to make the previous year.  I was using bigger needles, size 3, Lion Brand sock yarn, and their free pattern–which makes a heavy sock best for boots.  (I now use size 1’s, and the sock is finer.)

So, I rounded up yarn and needles and Lion’s brand yarn and gave those interested a set.

Rosie Pilkerton started a pair of socks with this yarn.

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The next year, Rosie brought back her sock, which was almost done.  But, the needles had been too big for her gauge, and the sock was too big and stretchy.   We were all afraid she would not have enough yarn to finish a second sock as well.

“Rosie, you have to start over with smaller needles.”

“Your mean, rip it out????   No way!!!”

The following year, Rosie brought the sock back and we had the same conversation.

Then, I missed three years as John was too sick for me to leave him with dogs and chickens.

This year, just after we had all settled in, out came the sock.  And I repeated the remedy for this sock problem.

“No way!!!!!” said Rosie.

But this year, Caroline Razeq, who had gone on to make other socks, picked up the sock, handed me the loose end to wind, and with Rosie moaning beside us, we undid the sock.  Along the way, I kept promising that I would fix it for her.  As we unknitted the sock, the adage “you break it, you own it” played in my head.

So, I put aside the sock project I had brought with me and started reknitting Rosie’s socks.  I just mailed the completed socks to Rosie (it was her birthday too!) the other day.  I had located some of my yarn that would work to complete the toe, but I did have enough of the Lion’s yarn to complete both socks.  That’s usually the way–it never looks like you will have enough yarn, but you do.

And that felt pretty good–to be able to fix something for an old and valued friend who will likely not knit another pair of socks ever in her life.  Though, I should add, she knits scarves with intricate patterns that are beautiful.  And I should also add that socks are not difficult to make, they just look daunting.

Meanwhile, Caroline had two pairs of socks with toe errors.  She had sewn them together going up and down rather than side to side.  And we had to rip one back to the point where she decreased to get the toe right.  But, here they are–all fixed and, hopefully, being worn now:

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Caroline is now working on a dark green pair which will be very pretty.

She’s ready now for a good sock book–I recommended Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks, which I have really enjoyed and highly recommend.

 

Turkey Tracks: First Snow

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Turkey Tracks:  November 26, 2013

First Snow

I woke this morning to our first snow.

I love the stillness that comes with the first flakes–and the white sky.

We didn’t get much–but I didn’t start off on my errands until the roads were plowed.  Linda McKinney was here early, and she said the roads were very slippery.

Together we got the house ready for Gina Caceci (Falls Church, VA, beloved neighbor) and Maryann Enright (beloved SIL), both of whom will arrive tomorrow–God willing and the creek don’t rise.  (We are expecting weather tomorrow, but also warmer temps.)

I bought a handmade Christmas wreath at Good Tern Coop in Rockland this morning.  The fresh-cut greenery made the car smell so lovely all the way home.

That’s a bow made from birch bark.

Christmas Wreath

But what drew me in addition was the Pretty Bush (purple) berries.  We had a Pretty Bush back in Virginia, and I have not seen one here in Maine.  But, they must grow here as these wreaths are made from local plants.

Christmas Wresth detail

I will tuck some Christmas Balls into the wreath when I get around to it.

I am a staunch defender of keeping Christmas confined to December.  But Thanksgiving is very late this year, so it’s gobbling up Thanksgiving in all kinds of ways–not to mention that Black Friday has now become Black Thursday and Friday.  But that’s what the market will do if you don’t beat it back into a place that’s good for all people–including the ones that have to work for stores to be open.

I finished the big Wheels of Mystery Block quilt–now named “Earth.”  It’s gorgeous.  I’ll put up pictures after it lands at its new home–which will be after our December Coastal Quilters’ meeting on the 14th.  But here’s a picture of part of the top–I made many of these blocks by hand and then discovered they sew quite well on the machine.  I love all the geometric shapes the block forms.

Earth block

I’ve gone quite mad in the quilt room and have five projects going–six if you count the little clam shell quilt I am hand quilting. Seven if you count the time I spent the other day making more of the fabric strips from small pieces of fabric in my discard bin.  Bonnie Hunter calls them “crumbs.”  I’m making 2 1/2 by 8 1/2 strips–and I showed some in an earlier post.  They will be a border to a quilt one of these days.

I’ve cut out the first kite-shaped fabrics for the first medallion–see earlier post on hand quilting projects.  It’s the quilt from Material Obsessions 2.  And, I’ve marked all the seam joins.  That took quite some time actually.

I am making myself sew together the quilt top of another Dancing Nine’s quilt top–as I’ve got a lot of really beautiful fabric left over from the Wheels of Mystery quilt.  Here’s one set of blocks:

Brown Dancing Nine

I nixed doing a border with half-square triangles–also from this batch of fabric.  It’s too busy and too narrow.  I’ll do the piano keys border again, with a narrow inner border to separate it from the quilt body.  (Bonnie Hunter has the best design eye it seems, and this is her pattern.  These blocks are a bit bigger than hers as I’d already cut 2 1/2 inch strips.)

Bonnie Hunter’s current leader/ender project is with 2 1/2-inch half-square triangles–so I seem to be doing that with these browns.  You can combine the light/dark blocks in at least 50 ways.  I’ve just put these four block together this way until I get more of them.  So stay tuned on this one as I have no idea what will happen with it.

Bonnie Hunter's LeaderEnder Project

I started a leader/ender project with leftover 3 1/2-inch light and dark green strips some time ago.  I now have at least 300 of those blocks.  So, here’s what’s happening–I chose a classic Contrary Wife traditional block with which to experiment–only I made the bigger block a four patch and am paying attention to the light/dark orientation of it so that the quilt will have long runs of light or dark little blocks–something I learned from Bonnie Hunter.

Red and Green 1

Here it is with two more blocks added yesterday:

Red and Green 2

It’s going to be gorgeous!  Everyone comes in says “wow!  I really like that red and green one.”

And I’m pulling from the 2-inch red and green strip bins from the cutting frenzy this summer.  It’s so EASY just to pull pre-cut strips from the bins and not have to wade through a ton of fabrics in the stash:

Red and Green bins

That purple stripe fabric is in the bin by mistake–from my pulling of fabrics for this “fish” project that seems also to be happening:

Fish

I bought a new coat from LLBean a few weeks ago–and none of my scarves go with it really.  I have a hat that’s the right blue, and it’s trimmed with a burnt orange yarn.  So I stopped by Over the Rainbow yarn shop in Rockland yesterday.  Here’s what I came home with–the coat color is the dark, smoky blue in the yarn:

Cowl Project 2

I’m going to make a cowl kind of scarf–and make it twice as long as this one, which has this very interesting textured pattern.  One uses a circular needle to make it, and it knits up REALLY fast–or so I was promised.

Cowl project

How fun is that???

So, now it’s time for me to leave for the monthly meeting of my Book Club.  We are discussing Steward O’Nan’s Wish You Were Here, which I enjoyed rather a lot as it is about a family where the father/grandfather/husband has died and where those left behind have to figure out how to move forward with their relationships–which have altered in the wake of the patriarch’s death.  Nothing will ever be the same again for those left behind, and they struggle in the short space of a week, to come to grips with the immensity of all that has changed.   The novel does not hit you over the head with this truth, though.  Rather, O’Nan patiently and calmly walks through each day and shows you with exquisite subtlety just how much everything has changed.

Turkey Tracks: Quilting Projects Update

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Turkey Tracks:  October 15, 2013

Quilting Projects Update

I have really enjoyed making the Wheel of Mystery/Winding Ways blocks–many of which I did by hand.  Here’s a picture to remind you what these blocks look like:

Wheels of Mystery 2

The line-up of lights and darks makes the “wheels of mystery.”

Anyway, after sewing while watching all of the tv series “Suits” and “Falling Skies,” I started making some blocks by machine to speed up the process.  And, then, started wanting to get the top finished.  (There is a quilt to make for granddaughter AIley’s third birthday in late November.)

When I get focused on finishing a top–it gets finished.  All the blocks are done–so I will start sewing rows together–which will require patience as there are lots of joins that need to be perfect.

i’m going to do two borders that will finish at 3 inches–and come out to a border of 6-inch nine patches in the fabrics of the quilt–with the dark fabrics predominant.  I hope the math works.  It does on paper.  These blocks are kind of stretchy and wonky–what with all the bias edges.  It could be a disaster.  It could be ok.  Time will tell.  It will be what it will be.

Anyway–handsewing blocks is a big thing in quilting now.  “Hexies” are all the rage.  And other shapes are showing up.  Micky Dupre and Bonnie Hunter have a new book out that mixes hand-sewn blocks with machine patchwork.  I can’t wait to see it.

I love hand-sewing.  For the moment I’ve given up on knitting and am hand sewing some clam shell blocks.  I walk around with the ingredients in a bag in my purse–such as at the airport last week to pick up sister Susan. Here are some of these blocks sitting on my knees:

Clam shells

Here area  few sewn together against the blue arm of the chair in the airport waiting room:

Clam Shells 2

Here’s what the top looks like as of today:

Clam Shells 3

It has not been ironed–but it’s going to lay down nicely.  I’m not sure it’s wide enough.  I’ll trim up and put on multiple borders and will hand quilt the clam shells at the very least.

This fabric came from a collection Susan Barry, who died of cancer a few years back now but who is still remembered, put together.  It came to me in a nice plastic box–all matched up and ready to go.  I wanted to do something with it to remember her by.  The clam shell block seemed to be perfect for these fabrics–which are sweet and soft.

Can I tell you that clam shells are hard to sew?  There is a lot of fabric that has to be eased into a small curve.  Heres’ a TINY clam shell block done by a dear friend who is leery of internet so she will remain nameless.  It’s not a great picture.  I’ll try to retake it.

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Each of these tiny clam shells is perfect.  The quilt is called “Shore Dinner” as I recall.

I can tell you that I have grave reservations about my clam shells being this perfect.  BUT, I am enjoying making them.

Written by louisaenright

October 15, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Turkey Tracks: Easy, Fun Knitted Dishcloths

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Turkey Tracks:  September 3, 2013

Easy, Fun Knitted Dishcloths

 

At our (mostly) annual auction, one of Coastal Quilters members always gives a stack of knitted cotton dishcloths for the Silent Auction.  They are beautiful, uniform, and wash and wear like iron.

I always buy as many as I can for gifts.  Both of my daughters-in-law love these cotton knitted squared as much as I do.

“They’re easy,” my friend always says.  she got the pattern from Cut ‘N Sew Fabrics and Yarn, Globe shopping ctr, Littleton, NH.

Now, don’t laugh, they are easy once you master the “yarn over” stitch–which I always seem to get garbled in my head.  Here’s my first one–made with size 7 needles, I think.  The best I can say is that it’s serviceable…  (I used Peaches and Cream varigated cotton yarn–which needs to be used up and gotton out of my yarn stash.)  I thought the knitting was too loose…  We won’t even talk about the border the YO stitch forms…

Dishcloth 1

Here’s the second one–which is much better, but knitted with much smaller needles (1’s?), which made it really tight and way too small.  (I was starting to feel like the Three Bears story…)

Dishcloth 2

Here’s the last one–and by now I felt at ease and as if I could crank these babies out.  I forget, though, what needle I actually used.  Maybe a 3?

Dishcloth 3

Best of all, the yarn stash went down by three balls!!!

Here’s the pattern:

Row 1  K2 YO K1

Row 2  K2 YO K2

Row 3  K2 YO K3

Row 4  K2 YO K4

Continue to increase in this manner until there are 50 sts on needle.  (If you want your cloth smaller, 45 sts will do, or if you want it larger, go to 60 sts)

Decreasing:

Row 1 K1 K2tog YO K2tog K to end of row

Continue to decrease in this manner until there are 5 sts. on needle.  Next row:

K1 K2tog YO K2tog (four sts remain)

K1 K2tog K1 (three sts remain)

Last row:  bind off last three

Weave in loose ends.  Happy dish washing!

 

Written by louisaenright

September 3, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Turkey Tracks: Current Projects

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Turkey Tracks:  April 6, 2013

Current Projects

Spring is on the move, but we’ve had a chilly, if sunny, week.

One of my current projects is to practice taking more videos in order to learn what works and what doesn’t.  I erased quite a few for various reasons.  One reason is that it is very hard to hold the cameras steady.  Here’s one of the Camden Harbor at low tide, with the spring-full river pouring into it.  At high tide, the water would rise to a foot or two below the docks.  The wind is high and the noise of it and of the river interferes a bit with what I’m saying.

It’s elver season, and people trap them at the mouths of rivers–as near as I can determine.  Elvers are little eels that fetch the most astonishing prices per pound.  These little guys are sold alive to the Japanese, mostly, who then raise them to be much bigger before eating them.

Have you ever eaten eel?  It’s delicious actually.  You could try it in a sushi restaurant.  It’s cooked with a sweet sauce of some sort.

Anyway, here’s the video:

I’ve almost finished a pair of socks for my sister-in-law, Maryann Enright.  She chose the yarn just before John died.  We had a nice visit one day around early December to our newest yarn shop in Rockland, Maine, called Over The Rainbow.  It’s a fabulous yarn shop, and we are so lucky to have it.  I think these socks might be a bit wilder than Maryann imagined, but she will rise to the occasion with them.  The yarn does not have black in it, but deep navy and dark plum and a tiny bit of dark brown.

Maryann's socks

I am working on an applique quilt made with big blocks of green turtles.  I have not done any applique in some time and am very slow at it, so I refreshed my skills (ha! that’s a joke) with this little Easter Card for Maryann–in a class at Coastal Quilters taught by Barb Melchiskey, who is a master appliquer.  If I were doing this card again, I’d chose either a colored card or a colored background.  The two whites aren’t working so well together, and I don’t like the lines running away from the eggs.  But the eggs!  Ah, the eggs.  Perfect for this very eggy household.

Egg Applique

The turtle applique quilt will get a lot of quilting to bring out texture in the blocks–on the domestic machine.  But, here’s one block ready to go.  Now I need to do more.  I have not decided whether to do 6 or 9 blocks…

Green Turtle block

What is really drawing me is the scrap quilt taking shape on the design wall.  This one calls me from other rooms to work on it.  I have fallen in love with Bonnie Hunter and ALL of her books:  LEADERS AND ENDERS, SCRAPS AND SHIRTTAILS I AND II, and STRING FLING.  She embodies the kind of work I love best to do–make functional quilts that people can curl up under or into and use as much of the stash fabrics as possible.

Bonnie’s motto is reuse, repurpose, recycle.  She has a monthly column in QUILTMAKERS and her web site is awesome.  There must be 50 free quilting patterns on that web site.  She’s coming in May to our state guild, Pine Tree Quilting Guild, on May 5th, and I will be there to see her quilts and meet her, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

Bonnie Hunter also promotes Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s new book:  15 MINUTES OF PLAY , which is so much fun.  Both Hunger and Wolfe are having way too much fun with their quilts, and both employ string piecing methods to great advantage and fun in their quilts.

Anyway, Hunter uses a method that I really like.  She cuts any pieces of fabric in her stash smaller than a fat quarter, or at the biggest, a half yard, into strips:  3 1/2 inches, 2 1/2 inches, 2 inches, 1 1/2 inches.  (I also cut 5 inches as I have rather a lot of those now and want to make a broken dishes block with them.)  These measurements work well together.  She divides these strips into light and dark piles.  When she starts a project, she’s already done a lot of cutting.  And she can cut the strips further down with rulers, like the Easy Angle ruler, into the shapes she wants.  (She also likes the Tri Rec ruler set.)  I’ve been using the Easy Angle ruler, and it makes PERFECT half square triangles, as long as you have an accurate 1/4 inch sewed seam.

This quilt started using Bonnie’s method described in LEADERS AND ENDERS, where you keep a basket next to your machine with some block parts in it–like two-inch squares.  When you would need to cut thread on another project, instead, you just feed a light and dark set of squares through the machine and cut off the piece you wanted to free on the back side of the needle.   In no time, you have a pile of sets of two squares sewn together.  You can finger press those and sew them to another set for a four-square–and so on.

Well!

Here’s what happened in short order at my sewing machine–the idea came from Hunter’s LEADERS AND ENDERS.  And it’s putting a real hurt on my green stash fabrics!!!!  I’m no longer just piecing squares  through the machine while working on another project.  I’m making time to make as many blocks as I can.

Quilt in Progress

Here’s the block:  a form of a Jacob’s Ladder block, depending on where you locate the dark and light of the half-square triangles.

Quilt block

I iron the half-square triangle blocks along the way, but I don’t iron the whole block until I’ve finished it.  I’ve had to trim up very, very few of them.  All have been a bit too big–with stretching from ironing mostly I think.  None have been too small.  Most are perfect.

The squares quickly overflowed from the basket as I cut into my stash.

Quilt squares

The basket got filled with half-square triangle pieces:

Quilt triangles

And I have a pile of strips all cut and ready to be cut further–and separated by value–so Bonnie is right that just a bit of cutting each day delivers a lot of sewing for days to come.  She also says that she groups medium and dark values together and relies on the REALLY light fabrics to create contrast in a quilt like this one.

Quilt strips

I finished and mailed a beautiful quilt for a beautiful bride, Ashley Malphrus, who will be married in Charleston later this month.  I will put up pictures when I get home from Charleston, and the bride has seen the quilt.  But I am delighted with it.

So, I will leave you with this picture:  the last bouquet of flowers from our CSA, Hope’s Edge, last summer.  Those days are coming around again.  Look at all that green in the windows.

Hope's Edge, last boquet, Sept. 2012