Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday= art quilt project

I have been wanting to try the curved piecing and that is part of this month's Art Quilt Workbook---innovative piecing.  So I drew off the moose and pulled out the fabrics for the background.  I chose 2 blue fabrics for the background, and a blue-green for the ground.  I couldn't have the moose walking in air!  First exercise is using curved piecing.  With the curved piecing method described in the book, you can end up with 2 blocks with the opposite color placement.  This is the one I liked best because the light seems to shining on him.  He will eventually become part of a Alaska travel quilt.  I absolutely love him....our purple moose.
I have an idea for the other exercise that uses insert strips, so that will be next week's project.  But for the theme project, I am at a loss right now as to what I will use.  Hope inspiration hits soon. 
InsightCurved piecing---gentle curves--are not hard to do.  And I can draw a moose!
Happy Stitching...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Coral Reef

This was a fun, quick project that I loved designing.  It is the coral reef class by Shirley at learningfa yahoo group.  It was just what I needed to do---play with color and fabric.  So I just pushed everything else aside and got lost underwater yesterday afternoon.   The fish and other elements are fused and machine stitched down.  I used mainly decorative stitching for the "floaty" seaweed.   I think I may do another one, especially now that I figured out what I am doing.  I will  add some thread painted starfish and coral, and  use a deeper area of sand at the bottom.   This one is 14 inches by 25 inches.
This is Memorial Day weekend, the signal that summer is here.  Take time to pause and remember  and honor our veterans  for their service that we might live free.  Enjoy your holiday.
Happy stitches.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thread painting--a little

I finished up a bit of thread painting yesterday on some flowers.  The top ones are suppose to be cosmos---the leaves are better than the flowers.  The second one is yellow rudbeckias and they turned out better.  While in Alaska, I picked up several spools of embroidery  thread that I found on sale.  I got several shades of yellow and red and some purples to try some more flowers.  With the thread painting you  need the variety in shades.   I will probably use one group on my next art quilt project exercise.  The next chapter is creative piecing....curved piecing, wonky piecing, and using inset strips.  I used the wonky piecing on my last watercolor with the poppies.  So I plan to experiment with the curved techniques to create the background. 
  And then there is the moose.  I keep thinking about the photo of the purple moose on the side of the bakery.  He is painted to look like fabric to me.  So he will probably pop up on one of the art quilt exercises.  I also sketched a couple of layouts for a quilt of Alaska travel memories.  There are several photos that really inspire me to turn them into  fabric and thread painting and maybe a watercolor block of the mountains. 
Last night I cut strips and blocks for the blooming 9 patch and started sewing the strips.   So I can balance my stash report.  Used (cut up)---3 yards    Bought (last week) 3 1/2 yards.  Looks like I'm in the hole! 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I saw a moose

Before returning to Anchorage for the flight home, we visited the Reindeer Farm outside of Palmer.  There was a moose, and a musk ox and  Eddie, the elk.  He  was quite friendly and followed Trey wanting attention.  Luckily they only have lower teeth in the front, so it was safe to feed him.  The reindeer were very forward....they knew it was free food when people came in.  What we didn't realize was that reindeer and caribou are the same animal.  Caribou are wild and reindeer are domesticated.  Their antlers are covered with a soft velvet fuzz.  It is very sensitive and we were asked not to touch it.  Antlers can grow up to 6 inches a day, and each year the animals loose their antlers and grow new ones.  Guess that explains this pile of antlers.

We stopped in Eagle River at a nice yarn shop where Deana picked up Alaskan dyed sock yarn.  Then we went to Earthquake Park at the edge of the city.  In 1964, the strongest earthquake struck Alaska.  In that area the ground dropped over 30 feet and slid into the, people, and everything else.  There were photos too of the extensive damage done to the city. 
Trey wanted one more piece of pie from a small bakery he discovered downtown.  So we did some final shopping and he got his pie.  This last photo is one of the colorful moose on the outside of the bakery.  Looks like inspiration for a art quilt.   Anyway, 14 hours later I was home having sweet tea and ready for sleep.   Thanks for sharing my blogging  of Alaska memories.   If you ever get the opportunity to visit Alaska, go.  It is a trip worth the effort to get there.        I'm off to practice thread painting and begin a design for the online class.  Happy Stitching.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Copper Center Day

We drove out Glenn Highway to Glennallen and Copper Center.  Both are very small towns, but the reason behind this whole trip.  Russ grew up as a missionary kid in Copper Center and Tok area.  The Chapel on the Hill story has been told over and over, and I am glad we made the trip to see it.  This was the first post for him Mom and Dad to the Indians.  It is just a small log cabin, but was the center and reason they went to Alaska.  Russ tells of having to sit on the front row each week, about wild crocus coming up through the snow, about walking to the lodge area to the shop where his Dad worked some times and being whipped all the way home. 

We found the lodge--Copper Center Roadhouse--along the Copper River about 1/2 mile away.  It is now owned by the grandson of the original owner, and he is developing the area around the lodge with old log cabins and building.  One is now the Historical Society and a small museum, and a QUILT SHOP!  The owners were so gracious and opened up everything for us.  We really enjoyed browsing the area and talking to them all.  The chapel area has been sold and the chapel building given to the lodge owner.  He will be moving it to a new location next to the lodge this year.  I am so glad to know it will be looked after and cared for in the years to come.   So if you are ever in Copper Center, AK stop by Stitches from  the Attic.       We visited Mt. Wrangell Elias State Park, which is beautiful.  The park is larger than Switzerland, and encompasses all the types of area of Alaska--mountains, tundra, and lakes and forests.  Beautiful quaking aspens on the bluffs overlooking the lower tundra that lead to the mountains.
Heading back to our cabin we decided to stop by Lake Louise--tundra area-- and try to see caribou.  We ate at the Lake Louise Lodge--surprise, surprise--overlooking the lake and islands!  There were about 6 or 7 homes on the larger island.  I asked if they were year round homes.  Yes, people have their own power plant generators, and use boats and ATVs in winter to get across the lake. Talk about pioneer spirits.  Our waitress said to look for caribou as we left and sure enough we spotted a couple of them munching on shrubs.  We also saw a moose in the area too.  Deana was dancing for joy. 
Tomorrow is our last day.....  so back to the cabin to pack.  Or rather cram everything in.  Do you know how much room 31/2 yards of fabric takes?  A lot more than I thought when trying to stuff it in along with everything else we it ended up in the carry on bag.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Train ride to Whittier

What a treat to ride the viewing car train.  Even though it was a long, slow ride, the trip along the coast was great.  High cliffs on one side, often snow banks right down to the tracks, and the rocky shoreline and ocean on the other.  We saw sheep grazing on the mountain sides, eagles, and mallard ducks, and a couple of moose climbing through the woods.  There is only one track part of the way and another train was heading our way.  There was a short delay  while the engineer switched the tracks and the other train passed.  Whittier is a major port and about 80% of all goods come through there. 
The cruise was 4 hours through Prince William Sound to see and view 27 glaciers.  A glacier forms when there is more snowfall than can melt in a season.  It compresses and hardens.   Over the years layers build up and debris and dirt are sealed between them forming black lines.  The blue ice forms from pressure of  the glacier.  We drifted slowly through several ice floes and you could hear it crunch against the hull of the ship.  We did see several "calving" events of the ice.  Sea otters floated on large chunks of ice, and others on their backs in the water with the babies on their stomachs.  there were flocks of birds, and a group of porpoises followed us for a while, playing, leaping and diving.  On the way back to port we saw a humpback whale and her baby.  She blew for us a couple of times and then raised her tail, called the fluke", and dove deep.  The captain said that was a rare sight.  Simply amazing.

Alaska Continued

I'm not sure what I did, but this post published instead of the train....So I have finished this draft and will post it too.

We left Anchorage and headed out the Glenn Highway towards Palmer for a quick drop in with a friend Russ knew 50 years ago.  Stan and Ginny were wonderful and gave us lots of  help with what to do on our travels.    The views were amazing all along the way.  This was outside Palmer at the Musk Ox farm where we stopped.  Deana is a knitter and wanted to see the musk ox that are known for their quivet---very fine hair that is the ultimate for knitting when spun.  The farm was actually closed but Nick was gracious and allowed us a 20 minute tour to see a few animals.  The farm is working to domesticate and increase the herd as a viable product for  the native economy.  The musk ox is the largest prehistoric mammal left.
After a stop at the Walmart for snacks and water and a knee support brace for me, we headed for the Tundra Rose, our cabin for the rest of the week.  Everywhere we looked was a scene you wanted to capture.  Each mile revealed a different vista, and we stopped at a lot of pull outs. 
This was a viewing area we stopped at along the Matanuska River.  Deana and Russ found a way down to the river bed to look for rocks.  The river is low right now, as the rainy season is about a month away.           We got to the cabin, and went for dinner at the Sheep Mountain Lodge.  The sourdough rolls were the size of a small loaf of bread!  And we saw the Dahl sheep grazing on the mountain side.  They actually have viewing sites to sit and watch for sheep and wildlife along the roads.        Here's a view from our cabin early the next morning.
Russ and I headed to Victory Camp just a few miles away, and spotted a moose on the side of the road.  What a sight!  Victory Camp has grown and modernized from what he remembered.  There is a beautiful lodge and different theme camps now.  Both of the lakes still had ice on them.  Such beauty.  Rick is now the director  and  began showing us around.  But a quick call and Nadine arrived to give us a grand tour.  Nadine is considered the grand matriarch of the area as she and her husband were the founding missionaries here.  At 90 years old, she still drives the gravel roads and knows every one by name.  It was a great privilege to spend time with her.  She took us to lunch at the Long Rifle Lodge to see "old Alaska".  The lodge had wonderful food and views and was filled with life size bears, muskox, and moose.   As we were leaving, Nadine walked us out the back hall where old photos from early camp days line the walls.  Very near the end of the hall there was a photo of about 15 kids in the back of an old Ford pick up truck.  My husband was looking at it and suddenly said "There's Dwayne"--his brother.  And standing right behind him was Russ.  Of all the old photos they could have hung, they chose one with both of them in it.
 We spent the afternoon at Matanuska Glacier Park.  It is the largest glacier that is easily accessible by car.  About a 20 minute hike around the very rocky, steep marked path took Deana, Trey and Russ to the black ice. ( I stayed at the viewing area because of my knee.)  The black ice is part of the glacier that is covered by dirt and silt.            You could hear the ice crack and break off ---it sounded like a rifle shot as it reverberated off the mountains. 
This is where the river begins at the glacier.  On the way out of the park we stopped along the bank of the river for a hunt for a small enough piece of "driftwood"  to take home.    And we did manage to get it into the suitcase.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Quilting is big in Alaska

Everything is big in Alaska...including quilting.  Why?  Long winter nights---that is day and night are dark, I hear, with only 4 to 5 hours of twilight for daytime. 
The Quilted Raven is a really neat shop in downtown  Anchorage that Deana found listed in the phonebook.  So off we went.  I never expected to find such a cute shop there, and very friendly  staff to top it off.  We talked quilting and guilds and she cleared off the table for me to sort through what I liked.  They had a wonderful selection of scenic and Alaskan prints.  And wildflower prints that were just great.  My mind began to picture 2 or 3 things I could do with these fabrics. 
And then my wonderful husband said, "There's another rack you haven't looked at."  Boy, were we in trouble.....prints of glaciers, and the northern lights, mountains, and totem poles.  And it was buy 5 and get 1 I did.  I know I blew my stash busting diet, but what a great way to do it.   
Just a bit about the raven and the totems.  I thought that totem poles would be a common sight.  I  only found a few--mainly at the museum and rail depot.  So I picked up a small book on the history of totems.  Totems are ceremonial pieces many times.  The celebrate an event or a person.  The chief of the clan might have several outside his home, or as a door support.  Totems tell a story and are usually read top to bottom.  The raven is a common figure used on totems, and he represents a trickster/creator---the duality of his nature.  The legend says he stole the sun from his master and hung it in the sky.   So often the raven has a flat disk in his beak.   
 The photo to the right is a more common sight in Anchorage.  The symbols are very stylized and colorful.  This one is over the window at the gift shop.
Tomorrow we head to see the glaciers....

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I headed to the grocery store this morning and grabbed a jacket out of habit, I guess.  Ugh! The humidity hit me in the are not in Alaska now.  There is very little humidity there,  and the spring days warmed very quickly to comfortable temperatures. 
We stayed in the historic Anchorage Hotel on E Street the first 3 nights.  It was right downtown and within walking distance to the market and train station.  So that was great planning, Deana.  The first night was strange...lots of noise, clomping steps and voices in the hall.  Trey said he heard children running in the hallway too.  The next morning Deana checked and found out there were no children staying there.  Supposedly this hotel has a few haunts.  Could be because the next 2 nights were very quiet, and yet there were more guests.
 It originally was a rooming house for gold miners, and part of it  was destroyed by the earthquake in 1964.  I loved the "air conditioner" in our room, too!  Right next door was Grizzley's gift shop, very aptly named.   They wheeled him out every day and took him in at night. Or actually when they closed.  There is not a lot of night  right now in Alaska, only about 3 hours or so.  By 5 or 5:30 am it was quite bright outside.  And it is still daylight at 10 pm. 
The Anchorage weekend market opened about 10 am.  I was ready to go about 2 hours before that.  The market is open air and they begin setting up about 7 am.  It was fun to watch the trucks pull in and set up all the tents and such in such a short time.   In the photo the market is on the left...and you can see the mountains surrounding the city.  There were all types of crafts and artisans there.  I met a flute maker and he even played one for us.  And a native carver, who is passing on the family business to his young son.  They do carvings in soapstone and antlers.  Just amazing.  I bought a spirit face carved out of cottonwood, which is abundant there. We also found buttons cut from antlers.  Just had to have a couple for an art project for this trip.
So while we browsed and shopped, Trey ate his way through the market.  Reindeer sausages, lemonades, corn fritters (which I had to have because they were delicious) and I'm not sure what else.  I  loved all the street signs set up to mark the intersections.    And that was just the morning.....afternoon was the quilt shop, The Quilted Raven.  I'll save that for tomorrow's post. 

A few views of Alaska

Our first views of the mountains from the plane. 

Lots of snow still left on the Chugach Mountains that surround Anchorage, Alaska.
Just a peek through the branches of a white spruce outside our cabin early one morning. I took lots of photos of trees in anticipation of doing thread painting.
Mount Wrangell and the tundra and forest as seen from the state park walk.
It was an amazing trip, with incredible and unbelievable views.  The one thing that stands out in my mind is the people we met.  Every person, from the waitress to the hotel staff to the fabulous artisans at the market, was  friendly and helpful.  They were genuinely interested in our trip and wanted to help in any way they could.   Alaska is the last frontier full of pioneer-spirited people who are warm, genuine and have a marvelous passion for their state. 
I'm due for some sleep right now,  but look forward to sharing a lot that I saw....and bought!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Virtual theme contest

I entered a quilt in the weekly contest at, and forgot to post about it.  A comment by Bea reminded me.  You can find it by clicking the link on this page to quilting bloggers.  It's the weekly theme contest....Garden quilts this week.
The views are breathtaking to the market.  More later.........

Thursday, May 13, 2010

North to Alaska

The bags are packed, including chocolate.  We decided to take the computer, so maybe I will be able to post a few photos.  I spent the afternoon working on some thread painting.  I finished the daisies and tried a couple cosmos blooms.  They need practice. And I need more shades of thread, not just a light and then something close to it.  They do have thread in Alaska, so.........!   For inspiration I took a quick tour of the garden late today.  My favorite iris is blooming right now.  It is such beauty and really is that color.  I just had to capture it since it may be done by the time we get back.   Happy stitching.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Two days till we are in Alaska.  At guild last night they had a hoot imagining my red walking shoes sticking out of the snow.  :)  Me...I am more concerned that a bear might like them! 
Anyway,  thanks for all the great comments both here and at learningfa yahoo group about Remembrance.  I hope  I didn't miss anyone when I responded.  The off shoot is that Shirley has asked me to teach a watercolor class on-line at learningfa in the fall that can feature a  thread painted subject.  When I read her email , Take the Leap, one of the latest art quilt exercises, popped into my head.  So  be careful what you say, because it may come back to haunt you.     Actually, it should be fun.   I will have the summer to plan and prepare.    Life is a journey and this is one more road to take. 

Monday, May 10, 2010


Remembrance is 33" by 33" and in honor of Veteran's Day.  That is why I chose the poppies.    I decided to border with a filet inset afterall.  It just completes the look to me.  I really like this one.    Today begins the count down till we shoes and all!  I got all the addresses for the quilt and yarn shops plugged into the tom-tom.  Guess next weeks stash report will be about fabric added.  That's ok, I will give myself permission, because I have been keeping the sewing room very, very neat.  And mini-bolts go back on their shelf when I am finished cutting.    Besides, I'm not wonder woman perfect!  Like the speaker at church said..."Take a nap, eat a snack, there's a long journey ahead".  I love that!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Art Quilt Projects and stash report

Rather than letting things fall between the cracks, I have been allotting Mondays to my Art Quilt Workbook projects.   It has worked for me and I am on schedule and up to date.  I finished up the collage exercise and the theme projects.  The top photo is the collage exercise...Take the Leap.  I tried a different edge finish on this one, just a pillow case style finish.  I think I would have liked a binding better.

Over the River Nidd--Knaresborough Bridge is the collage theme project.  I had a general idea of wanting to show the sketch torn from a scrapbook, tucked away for years, and now framed to hang in my dining room.  It all came together when I got the comment from the student, Ana Lynden, and she shared her beautiful words describing the bridge.  (See earlier post for her comment).  I selected the parts I wanted to use and printed them onto fabric that frames the photo on its frayed side.  The quirky detail at the bottom is a tattered bookmark, that falls off the scrapbook edge. 
I am happy with this I saved a piece of history.
One final note, I heard from Russ' cousin, Diane,  that she had been to Knaresborough because her maternal grandmother lived there. 

Insight:  I'm a quilter, and I like binding on the edge.            Inspiration may require waiting for just that right time....or in this case, comment, to bring everything together. 

This weeks Stash busting--fabric used---and none added!
2 yards for Make a Wish take along quilt
1/2yard for border and binding of watercolor
FQ and some scrap strips for labels and taggie
Total this week---2 3/4 yard

Friday, May 7, 2010

I got slightly off track this week when I realized I needed to make a small quilt for a new mom to be.  The small "taggie" was a quick and easy project.  My stash did not provide enough infant style fabric, so I decided to make a stash busting project  in cool blues and greens.  Just an everyday-use me- quilt.
I am quilting on the watercolor and hope to get if finished  before we leave.
And one more sight from the garden....the memory garden.  Each plant there is planted in memory or honor of someone.  This is the rambling rose bush that we call Dwayne.  Dwayne was my husband's brother, and just as prickly as his rose.  We miss him.

A Blog comment to share

A really neat comment was in my inbox this morning.  It is from a college student, Ana, who is studying in England.  Here is her description and impression of the Knaresborough Bridge.  It is so special, I just had to share it.

  I’m just a student studying abroad in the U.K. I took an class excursion to Knaresborough and this bridge struck me in its grace and size. For an excursion update I wrote: “Behind the chunks of castle, in the distance, was the River Nidd with mist rising off of it. A picturesque bridge crossed the waters, so we found the riverside walk to get a closer look.  We stopped underneath this behemoth bridge to duck watch and hide from the rain. The huge stones were covered in green moss around the water and they stacked up into a giant arch that reached over us. I felt like it was alive, something with a past, a present, and a future. I felt like that bridge had not always been in that river, but had walked all over the countryside, deciding to plant itself in the Nidd. Unfortunately this bridge is underrated for its grace, strength, and beauty. It doesn’t have a special name, meriting only “Knaresborough Bridge.” I looked through the town pamphlets and found no information on its construction or use. I later found out that it was a bridge for the trains as we waited to leave on the platforms.” Thought you wouldn’t mind a present connection to the bridge as well as the past.

Thank you, Ana.  I am amazed how blogging has changed my world, through people I "meet" and subjects I discover.  This is the good side of technology!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Just some thoughts

I am not sure where this week went.  I know I've been busy.  But there is a lot to get done in the next week.  We leave for Alaska next Thursday, and I have a list of small  things to take care of before we leave.  And then the packing (including the red shoes), probably more deleting than taking!  Yep, I am getting excited and nervous at the same time. 
It all comes down to time.  Spend it wisely, once it is gone, it is the past. Make the most of your time today, and remember to enjoy the moments.  Here's a special moment in the garden.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Stash busting report

For the Jewel  Box--- Scrap strips used for border----approx. 1 1/4 yards       Backing used----3 1/2 yards
Backing for the water color wall hanging---1 yard
Backing for 2 art projects---1/4 yard
Total---------6 yards
Yea!!!!  And now there is about 3 inches of  free space on my mini bolt shelf.  And the jewel box is ready to be pinned and quilted.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Garden sights

The double white azaleas are just coming into full bloom.  Most of the other azaleas are past their prime now, so these are a special surprise.  They are tucked into a corner by the side door.  And just beyond them is another special plant.....
This is a Carolina orchid, a past along plant from a friend.  The  blooms are only about 1 and 1/2 inches across and really look like a very tiny orchid on an arching stem.  Hopefully next year there will be more of them.
And the poppies are appliqued now onto the water color wall hanging.  The centers are thread painted in black.  I really like how they just pop with the thread accent.   I have the border picked out and will get this one finished up this week.  I have decided not to add the right side to this one after all.  So now I have the start of other wall hanging, and an idea of what I will use for an accent on it.   

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Technology migraine!

Alaska is less than 2 weeks away, so today we needed to pick up some final items.  Number 1 was water bottles that we could take on the plane.  Susan, aka Sarge, suggested the Polar bottles that are insulated and keep water colder longer.  Unfortunately, none of the guys at the store could find little they know their stock.  Just beyond the checkout, I spotted a display of them.  Russ returned the off-brand not what we really wanted ones to the camping area, and I got 2 polar bottles.  Check that off the list.
Number 2 was a new memory card for the cameras.  Ha!  It was like looking for a needle on the floor of my sewing room.  His camera requires a compact flash card.  These are now considered high end for professional use, and only one type available at very high dollar.  The sales guy said to try  ebay and find an old one.   Strike one....on to my camera, which used an xD card.  2G, or present one is 64 M.  I quickly realize the 4 year old camera is considered very outdated.  Too bad, I know how to use mine.
Number 3 was an external hard drive for backup on my computer.  We have had enough computer problems lately and I did not want to be gone and come back to nothing left.  Luckily there was another customer looking at them and I started talking to him.  Goldmine!  He was a computer geek that installs big systems.  He kindly answered my dumb questions, gave me directions, and picked out what I needed.  OK, check that off the list.  Done and headed for home.
My camera card is a dud....the camera recognizes it, but is unable to format it.  So we will have to return it and try again.  Strike 2.
Then I decided to try ebay for the other card, and there was an old one for $1!  I bid, and bidded again.  Outbid....strike 3.  But, looking further, we found a compact flash card for about 1/4 the store price there.  So that did get ordered, and I sure hope it works.  Maybe that was just strike 2 1/2.
I am feeling very old has exploded, and my mind is having a problem keeping up.  And now Russ is trying to connect the Wii to the internet.  I think I will go press the jewel box quilt top....with a plain old iron that you don't have to program to make it work.
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