Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Stitching and Wanderlust

We've been away again. Autumn is for wanderlust. This time we ran off to the east coast--the sunrise side, and quieter side--of our beautiful state. It was sunny and cool--just as autumn should be. We had a blast staying at a tiny cabin on Lake Huron, and hiking and biking on trails along the lake. It's an area we know almost nothing about because we always seem to gravitate to the more touristy and heavily promoted west coast. Because we were on a bay, we were able to watch both sunrise and sunset each day. What a delight! And at this time of year, we could watch the sunrise without having to get up super early. It was lovely. 

East Tawas, the town we stayed in, had--drum roll, please--a Ben Franklin!! Yay! I remember shopping at Ben Franklin when I was a kid, but there are none near our home, so this was a real treat. Years ago, I would have loitered in the craft department, or maybe candy or toys, but this time I headed straight for the fabric department. I had been looking forward to this all summer. At first, I was a little overwhelmed. There were stacks and stacks of flat folded fabric. I had to narrow my focus a bit, so I decided to buy some half-yard cuts of rainbow solid-ish prints.

And then I spotted a large floral that I just couldn't pass up. Two yards, which is more than I usually buy of one fabric. I have some ideas, but time will tell what I do with this. Isn't it fun?

In the evenings, I worked on the Hollyhocks quilt. The cabin light was dim (cozy!), but I had the foresight to bring along a little high intensity lamp, and that was just right for hand quilting. I had unquilted the parts of the leaves that bothered me, and during our trip was able to finish them with a simpler design.
I like it better. Now all the interesting parts of the quilt are done. The rest will just be background quilting for texture, but that's okay. It will be a good project for evenings this fall. 

Right after we got home from vacation, we ran away for a Saturday bike ride (also on the east side of the state) because the awesome autumn weather was hanging on, and there were predictions for rain this week. But yesterday, I did manage to finish the quilting on the Lake Michigan quilt. 
The color is off here, but low light showed the quilting the best. I used my walking foot to follow the applique'd pieces in the water and land and then did more wavy lines in the sky. Next up is the hand embroidery of the grasses in the foreground. Another evening project--or maybe a deck project if the weather's nice.

This weekend the Grands are coming and we'll be celebrating our youngest grandson's second birthday (and early Halloween). Fun, fun, fun! Next week our lives will settle down a bit, and I hope to get started on a new donation quilt. 

I'll leave you with some pictures of our most recent adventures. Of course, the first photo I took just had to be of a sewing machine we saw while touring the Tawas Point Lighthouse.
We visited the lighthouse at least four times during our trip. And every day the sky was different. A rain storm was just leaving the area when we first arrived.

Our last visit was in the pink light at sunset.

We hiked along Lake Huron and Tawas Bay.

Monarchs flitted ahead of us. The area is a gathering spot for them as they get ready to fly to Mexico. This year they were lingering longer than usual.

Sunset was gorgeous.

But the real thrill for me was sunrise over the water. 

The bike trail led along the bay,

past parks (Isn't this seagull slide cute?),

through an arboretum,
through a meadow--the ghost of a once bustling company town (The houses are long gone, but the odd configuration of trees marks where they once stood),

and along colorful roadsides.
It was everything an autumn vacation should be. A vacation with a coda! That little Saturday ride, might have been through the last of our autumn color. The leaves were falling like glitter, and this week the rain might finish off most of them. 

Okay, enough with the wanderlust. I'm linking up today with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. Hopefully, I'll have something new to share next week. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

More Puppies! (and a Travelogue)

A few weeks ago, I made a couple of puppy blocks (Dog Gone Cute pattern by Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts) for Karen at KaHolly. She is collecting them to make wallhangings and other items for an auction fundraiser to support a pet rescue agency in Texas that is helping victims of Hurricane Harvey. 

I just could not stop at two puppies. I had a couple more ideas to try. My first idea was to make a husky with blue eyes. Well, it turned out looking more like a Border Collie or an Australian Shepherd. Oh well. 
I tried again with some cream and gray Grunge fabrics. In my mind, the block was awesome, but my placement of fabrics was just wrong, and block was so hideous that I'm not even going to show you. Puppy fail. Funny how that happens.

I also wanted to try a brown dog--I don't know what they're called, but I know I've seen them--with blue eyes and a pinkish nose. That one turned out more like what I was imagining.
I wonder, though: do these puppies look a little vacant? A little zombie-ish? Maybe I should have used a slightly darker blue for the eyes. I love them anyway, and I'm sure someone somewhere will love them, too. I probably should have named them, but then they'd be harder to part with. Wait, I'll name one. The Border Collie is Fly, of course, from the movie Babe. Love that movie! You can name the others if you want.

I have other ideas, but I think I need to stop  eating potato chips  making puppy blocks now. These little pups will soon join their playmates for a little trip to meet up with all the others at KaHolly's quilty dog party. Oh, now I have a Go Dog Go earworm. Remember that book by P.D. Eastman? I must have read it a million times by now. It's a fun book. 

I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday. Have fun with your puppies--whether furry or fabric. And thank you, Karen and Lorna, for making this project possible!

Okay, since this has been a tiny post, how about a few lot more vacation photos for those of you who like armchair travelogues? These are from the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, in the rural district, which is an area that I think of as ghost farms--a rural museum in the National Lakeshore (hard to explain). A lovely area. I think they are considering some heritage farming there in the future. We rode the newest part of the trail this year. 

A peek through a window of the farmhouse--layers of wall paper and linoleum printed to look like carpet.

Rest stop tree

Narada Lake

Do you see the beaver cuts? Two trees about to be toppled and one pointy stump where one has already been felled (way on the left)

Log school house from the 1800's (right across the trail from the beaver work)

A peek through the window. This is one of my favorite pictures from the ride. I love the dusty light.

I wonder if this could be a Native American trail marker tree.

The brightest spot of color we saw on the trail.

Okay that's it for this post. Bye bye.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Vacation Mode

Not a whole lot of quilting going on here, but enough. Last spring, we planned a vacation trip "up North" during shoulder season--the time between summer and leaf peeping season. We love the time of year when the trees show just a hint of color and the morning air is crisp. It's perfect for biking on trails--no crowds and no sweat. Well this year? Ha! Temperatures were in the 90's. At the 45th parallel. At the end of September. The towns and beaches were crowded with visitors and locals soaking up bonus summer weather. We had a good time. It was just more summery than planned until the very end when the temperature plunged more than 30 degrees--ah, that was more like it.. I'll include a few pictures at the end of this post, but first I'll focus on what's been going on in my little quilting life.

I'm trying to remember where I was with projects before we left town. I think I shared a bit on Instagram about my Lake Michigan quilt. The top is all pieced now. 

My plan is to embroider some tall grass in the foreground where the crude paper patterns are and then some progressively smaller bunches to create depth. I was trying to decide whether to embroider the grass before or after quilting. I didn't want the stitches to show on the back, but I also didn't want to try to quilt around embroidery. I made a little mock-up to test embroidering after quilting, and it worked fine, so my next step is to make the sandwich and do the quilting. Here's the mock-up:

No show on the back from the embroidery:

Anybody recognize that backing fabric? Ancient! Good use for it, right? Now I can use the mock-up to practice the kinds of stitches and colors of thread I'll use on the quilt.

My other in-progress quilt is Hollyhocks. I took that quilt along for vacation hand work. I had done a bit of the flowers before I left.

This was my view on the balcony of our hotel. It was hot, hot, hot, but there was a breeze.

And under the cabana on the beach:

During our time away, we spent time at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. In the visitor's center there, the 2013 ArtPrize people's choice winning quilt by Ann Loveless is on display. So, of course, I had to take some pictures (not easy to do because of its size and the reflections in the protective glass).

Amazing! I'm glad I got to see it up close. There are other beautiful Sleeping Bear artworks in the gallery, but this was the one I just had to see,

I stopped in at four quilt shops Up North. One I had been to before, but the others were ones that just happened to be along our route. Here's what I bought:

The batting and powder blue Grunge are for the Lake Michigan quilt. Seems weird to use Grunge for a quilt back, but I didn't see anything else I liked as much, and it will be a nice memento. The tan Joel Dewberry is a possible binding for that quilt, and the coral, blue, and turquoise are potential parts in a donation quilt I'm contemplating. The yellow is an odd piece from a grab bag table. It's about 80 by 33 inches with some seams and a hem on one end. It's been washed so obviously had a previous life. Maybe the cuttings from a quilt back? 

I enjoyed three of the stores. Each had a distinctive personality. My favorite was in a couple of store fronts from the 1800's in a teeny, tiny town. The fourth store will not be on my list for future visits. It probably had the biggest inventory, and the woman who greeted me (the owner, I hope) was friendly as she explained where everything was, but I was treated with suspicion and rudeness by the cashier (I hope not the owner). It does take the shine off those fabrics. I probably should have walked away. I've deleted a whole paragraph about the experience. 

When we got home we had just enough time for dental appointments and laundry before taking off for a week of daycare with the Grands. Pure fun. A bit different now that our granddaughter is in all-day kindergarten. But we got to do some evening care, too, so we spent plenty of time with both kiddies. During naptime, I kept working on the Hollyhocks quilt. I finished quilting the flowers and outlined the leaves.
Then I started the veins in the leaves. I'm not happy with that quilting so I think I have some unquilting to do. I'll probably use simpler quilting and a different color thread

Now that I'm home, I've spent a little more time with puppy blocks. I'll save those for another post. 

Meanwhile, here are a few Up North photos. I've taken a lot of photos there in the past, so this year, I tried to focus on details or scenes I haven't taken before. 
Big Sable Lighthouse (Update: Oops, I meant Little Sable)

The sky at sunset on the Fall Equinox

Fall Equinox

Ludington North Pier Light

Cardinal Mountain Ash tree at one of our motels. The part of the building to the right of the door is the former lighthouse keeper's home.

Okay, I'll save a few more pictures for next time. I'm linking up today with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. I hope your week is going well, whether or not you've been on vacation. Of course, quilting at any time is like a little vacation.