Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Dear Cassie,

If I were able to get a glimpse at your life right this moment, I wonder what I would see... If I would spot you queuing in the grocery store or find you making preparations for
Christmas dinner or wrapping presents or maybe quietly sipping your tea feeling peaceful with the thought that everything is taken care of.

I just got home from shopping for the last bits in town and no matter how calm I find myself some commercial hysteria grabs me in the midst of the blinking lights and glittering stars and glazing decorations, not to talk about the long queues. I don't like driving at this time of the year, all the roads are full plus the driving conditions are quite bad right now. The temperature is way below freezing and there is new snow and this powder snow flies all around making the visibility poor at times, especially poor when it is dark. It is such a relief to finally turn to the quiet home way.

I have not been making Christmas presents this year but I have not had idle hands either. I think I have only knitted one scarf but I did manage to find a good balance between quilting and knitting this past month and have enjoyed the variety of projects.

Some time ago I saw this beautiful Civil War Bride Quilt
and immediately loved it. I don't remember where I saw it first but followed the link that brought to me to the blog that is dedicated to this quilt. And from there I found the site that sells this pattern.

Last week I received my copy and I could not resist but had to start right away. The blocks are not square and it bothered me a bit and I decided to draw it and spread the motifs to fill a square. I redrew the block but kept changing little bits here and there and in the end my block had changed a lot from the original.
I did the appliqué on my block and even though I like it, I am wondering if I should start from the beginning again and be true to the original. I think I will do the next block by re-drawing it also and then I will decide what to do. The original quilt has its own language or spirit and that is what I love about it.

I am looking forward for the holidays, for hours of quilting and knitting, listening to Christmas carols, watching old films on TV and eating chocolate and drinking hot glögg. (With occasional breaks for snow shovelling, the forecast for us is more snow.)
I wish You Merry Christmas, be well, enjoy your holidays, and when appropriate, thread the tiny needle and sew away few moments.

Love,
Lene

PS. I don't like red apples, I just had to make the apples yellow.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Spring frenzy

Dear Cassie,

So the spring - almost summer - has come into these furthest corners of the northern hemisphere. My lake was freed from the ice last weekend and since then I have had very hard time going to bed at nights. I have kept looking a
t the opposite shore being lit by the last rays of sun and its glorious reflection on the calm surface in windless nights; or kept listening to the lullaby of breaking waves in less quiet evenings. I have stayed up late to wake up by the alarm clock after so short sleep that my body would have loved to stay under the covers but have gotten up to catch the morning chorus of birds. I just love this season.

After the long and dark winter all of a sudden the world is full of noises and and the scenery is slowly changing from one color scheme into the other. It is almost like somebody has taken a box of crayons and is filling this canvas little by little.

Do you remember Quilter Anna Williams? (I know you do, but I could not think of any other sentence here...) Long time ago she and her work was featured in American Quilter and I was touched by her work.

It reminds me a lot of these rag rugs that were and still are woven in Finland, some of them, and the most beautiful ones, are made with whatever is at hand at home. Rags are collected
for years and then a long warp is set to a loom and rug after another is woven until the warp is used. Often a lot is left over as a seed for the next crop of rags.

When I saw the quilts of Anna Williams I was inspired to make this
blue log cabin called "The village is asleep". (This hangs on the wall in my house but it is very difficult to photograph in its place so I scanned it from a magazine. It was on the cover page of Finn Quilt, a Finnish magazine. It consists mostly of news inside Finnish quilting world.)
For some reason, maybe it is spring to blame here, but I have been overwhelmed by the possibilities of the fabric stash. As the spring proceeds and new colors appear in the nature, I keep introducing new colors into this quilt.This looks a bit wild but I do love these bits and pieces collected over the years. Some of the fabrics are new, some are very old, but not older than my marriage. I could tell my life's story by telling you about some of these fabrics and when and where they were bought and for what intention they were bought...I have been cutting these strips and have them stored in one big container and pick one - whatever happens to please my mood right at that second - and then carry on.

I just so love this spring!

Love,
Lene

Sunday, 5 April 2009

A Building Project

Dear Cassie,

I wish I could see your quilts in person, not just as pictures on the screen, because I know there is much more to feel there than meet the eye here. Your tiny even stitches amaze me every time I get a glimpse of them!

As much as I have enjoyed the quiet and slow needle turn applique with the Piney quilt blocks (6 of them completed so far), I have set up my trusty sewing machine on my desk. Well, to be honest here, I have set it up in my daughter's room, while she is away.
I was sorting out fabrics in my own room, after which there is such a mess that I can't stand to stay in there.

Anyway, I realized that I have few pieces of fabric living on the shelves of my cabinets (now on every possible surface), that need to be dealt with. They need to be sewn into quilts or be got rid off some other way.
There are few that I cherished so much when I bought them that I did not dare to use them and now they don't seem to fit my mood any more. Today I hope to be wiser. (Also with yarn.)

Here, meet my companion, my Bernina.
She is old but she has the most beautiful straight stitch and I value her for that. She is is easy to open up to clean of dust and to oil frequently. I did not remember that I had made some little add-on's to her. To make things simple and easy and to start some kind of de-stashing, I cut few strips and started building a new log cabin. I might be doing these the hard way but I open up the seams - almost always. I think, I am not sure, but I think that when the seams are open, the block will behave in a balanced manner. I trim and iron the block every time after a new log has been added. It takes time but it also gives more of it to ponder about the next selection of fabric.

My good quilting book library is not that big, but I have few treasures there. I bought this huge book long time ago from a book sale (ISBN 3-89508-224-5). The text in it is in English, French and German. It has big good pictures of mostly old quilts and I have many favourites in it. It is hard to name the best one, but it could be this... or then this... then again maybe it is this... I realize that your Sunday is much younger than mine and I want to squeeze few sewing hours into mine yet, so be well until next time,

love,
Lene

Friday, 27 March 2009

quilting time again

Dear Lene,

I'm sure by now you must be thinking that all of my promises that "I'm thinking about quilting" and "I have a few projects in mind" are all a bunch of excuses. But really, I have started up with some quilting projects again, slowly but surely. It must be something about springtime - we started this quilting binge nearly a year ago, and I guess we both get bit by the quilting bug at this time of year.


The first thing I picked up was some handpiecing, blocks that I started last year and then set down. I've made another dozen (more or less) and am going to continue until I run out of the fabrics. Unfortunately, the two solids are from a discontinued fabric line, so I'll just be working with what I've got on hand, and stop when I'm forced to.

What I've really felt inspired to do lately is hand quilting. I have several projects around that have been languishing, some of them for years I'm afraid.


This simple wholecloth quilt is one that I started a couple of months ago. I liked the fabric and thought a simple baby quilt would be a good thing to have finished. Of course, now that I started it, two of my nephews have had baby boys (both in the past month!) and I realized I'd better pull it out and get it done - quickly.


As simple as it is - or rather, maybe because it is so very simple, I'm afraid I find it a little boring to work on. I had planned some more elaborate improvisation in the areas between the leaves, but I feel kind of pressed for time now (with all of these babies arriving) so I'm not sure if I'm going to do more than finish the leaf outline that I started with.

What I'm really wanting to get back to is something that I know won't bore me at all. Its another baby sized quilt, a more elaborate wholecloth in the Welsh style.


All this one needs is the borders quilted and its done. I'm considering the simple leaf quilt as a warm up excercise for this one. Or maybe this will be a treat to myself, a reward once I finish the simpler one.

I'm hoping that your springtime is filled with flowers, when it finally comes to you up north. Your Piney blocks look beautiful! I'm sure I'll get back to my appliqué soon, but for now I seem to be hand quilting again.

love,
Cassie

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Piney again

Dear Cassie,

Now I do have to admit that the quilting bug has really bitten me hard and there is no turning back at the moment. It must be the anticipation of spring and the amount of light and all this whiteness around that makes me so thirsty for colors. There is nothing but snow all around yet and this longing of colors and flowers has forced me to make a few of my own.

Remember Piney?

I made one block last summer before the yarns took over my life but I never could push this solitary flower out of my mind. The block has lived on my desk in a plastic bag where it was easy to spot and I never had the heart to hide it into a closet. Her jump onto my lap was a short one and since I zipped the bag open, I have not been able to put it down.

I have cut all the pieces for the flowers (except for the centers) and have already hand pieced more than 50 flowers. I am going to need 64 if I manage to carry on that far.

Talking of color --- I keep going back to look at this colorful beauty over and over again. I have not yet made any efforts towards it but there is a part of me that would love to be surrounded with this brightness.

And this is the book that I must have a glimpse of quite frequently. To my delight very talented Janet from Quiltsalot is making a quilt that is very similar to the cover quilt. How's that for an inspiration?

Love,

Lene

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

It is Green.

Hi!

I hope all is well and that you are not buried under the snow...

So my December was red. Jean K sent me a question wondering what color is my February.

Most of February went by and I never got around to quilting but the question kept coming back to me. I knit through almost all of February but during the last few days I started to think of life beyond knitting. Finally I decided to quilt for a tiny bit, or sew something at least. I did not have anything special on my mind and went to look for fabrics. I had a firm belief that my inspiration resides in the fabric stash and that I just had to uncover it from there. I was also sure that blue was the color I was after. Light, cold, pure and fresh blue, like the sky up here during these cold and sunny days.

Little did I know that my inner clock was already full ahead for spring. After some poking around I had collected a bundle of greens and picked a block with a bird and dandelions from a Japanese book called Woolwork (ISBN4-579-10989-9).
I was all set to make one single block and sew it into a pillow but then... ah, the joy! The tiny needle took me by the hand and so far I am making my third block. (The embroidery will be added later on.)
Love,

Lene