Thursday, November 28, 2013

Over the River and Through the Woods...

At last this quilt is hanging on our wall in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's a redwork design by Spring Hill patterns.  I like to embroider and this is the kind of portable project that is easy to carry along to work on. But there are tons of tiny lines to stitch! Inch by inch each of the panels progressed until they were ready to assemble with the patchwork blocks and geese. This one is a keeper!

You can see some of the detail in the tree branches and fence lines, plus the roof and windows in the house and barns. I named this quilt "Nostalgia" because it is so reminiscent of days gone by. We lived on a farm in New York for many years, so the wooded background and snow-covered hills are familiar to me.

I used a light box and a red Pigma fine-point pen to trace the design on the panels ready for embroidery. It was a new way to transfer a pattern for me, but it worked out very well. The other things that worked well is that the pattern called for a white muslin liner behind each panel. That kept the red floss knots and traveling stitches from shadowing through on the front. It was a fun quilt to make, but I'm glad I'm done!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Surprise Sew-in...

Take one Jelly Roll and a yard or so of background fabric, and the result is this fast and simple "Mardi Gras" quilt top! Our guild recently held what we billed as a "Surprise Sew-in". It was a one-day retreat, and everyone who signed up brought the above fabrics and their machines, ready for a fun day of sewing.

We selected four different patterns from Villa Rosa Designs. Members chose an envelope at random, and that was the pattern they used. Everyone was quite delighted with their surprise selections. You can see the style of the Villa Rosa designs in the last photo. The entire Rosecard pattern is printed on a post card, and each one has an attractive full-color photo of the quilt on the front. There's a large selection of patterns, but we kept it to those that use Jelly Rolls.

It was fun to see the assortment of fabric strips members brought. All of the work surfaces looked chaotic for awhile.

But fairly quickly the blocks and pieced units began to take shape. Members also had the option of using a kit assembled for them by the organizers to sew a donation quilt. The kits were assembled using 2 1/2" strips from a large bin of donated strips we keep for Friendship Quilts. The kit above had brights and the one below contained florals.

Everyone made excellent progress, and many had their quilt tops ready to assemble by the end of the day. This pattern is called "Blueberry Hill."

And here are two more patterns I purchased and plan to make sometime. We held a show-and-tell of the tops at our guild meeting, but I was holding up quilts and didn't get any pics! It was certainly fun to see all of the quilts made from a single pattern held up together. And the event made for a popular guild activity which I'm sure we'll repeat.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Know Thy Featherweight...

What is it that makes these little vintage Singer machines so captivating to quilters? It may be due in part to their diminutive size, light-weight portability, work horse attitude, and nostalgic good looks. They are a legend. I've had this 1951 model since trading in a beautiful antique treadle machine for it several years ago. But I didn't use it very often. For some reason I was a bit intimidated by it! I think I considered it too fragile. But it's far from that. So today I enrolled in a Featherweight class taught by The Old Sewing Machine Man, Johnny Johnston, who repairs and restores vintage machines and specializes in Featherweights. There were 7 of us in the class held at his home and workshop, and we did hands-on oiling and use of the machine. Plus we learned some interesting history of the machines that were first available in the early 1930s. Johnny and his wife Debra have a wonderful personal collection of all types of old machines.

While you might think that one Featherweight is quite like all the others, there are some distinguishing characteristics upon a closer look. For instance on this model the chrome end plate has a striated pattern.

While earlier models had this fancier scroll pattern. Several of the machines in class had a similar scroll design end plate. Also, the oval badge on the bottom right of my machine has a blue border which indicates that it was a 100-year anniversary issue from the Singer company. Johnny told us that the model that has a red badge for the Texas centennial is a much sought after machine. So keep your eyes open!

This was the oldest model of those brought by students and it was a machine owned by the quilter's great aunt, so she's keeping it in the family. The tension dial on this early model has no number markings for adjusting the tension. Johnny told us that the Featherweight is still the most popular sewing machine. So after cleaning and oiling, removing and replacing pieces and parts, all of us "bonded" with our little machines. I know mine will get more use from today on!

Debra and Johnny have done a great job arranging little vignettes like this one all around the workshop. On the treadle and at the left you can see the unfolding "puzzle box" that contained all of the feet and attachments for one of the vintage machines. Debra's quilts add a beautiful backdrop. You could spend a good bit of time enjoying all the machines on display. We all learned a lot and had great fun at the workshop.

And just after I posted showing the animals that live here at Oak View Farm, this adorable pup wandered into a neighbor's yard. She was going out of town and could not take care of her, so the little dog wound up here. We gave her a flea bath, a meal, and a warm bed for the night. She was in pretty good shape and had a collar but no contact info. However, the next day, before I could get her to the vet to see if she had an ID chip, she squeezed out of the gate in the fenced yard and took off like a streak. I guess we can see how she wandered so far from home. She was super-fast for a little dog- it was almost as if she remembered something. I hope she remembered where she lives and returned there because I was unable to find her. I did learn from another neighbor that she'd seen a poster up about a small white dog about a mile down the main road, and that the poster is down now. And that's the direction I saw her running. So hoping "Maddie" (that's what I was calling her in case she stayed!) got back to her owners. She's a sweet thing.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Some of my blogging friends asked me to tell a little about our farm. This is our young horse Jackson who recently traveled to Ohio to show at the Quarter Horse Congress. Here he is posing in the paddock on our farm. Jackson is a two-year-old bay roan gelding. Our old red roan mare Peaches is his mother, and she also produced a 12-year-old gelding Freckles (below). So Jackson and Freckles are half-brothers. Freckles was born on our farm here in Florida, while Jackson was born in Aiken, South Carolina, where Peaches now lives in retirement. Retirement.. except for the fact that she also gave birth to Jackson's full brother Smarty last spring. Smarty looks much like Jackson.

Here's Jackson under saddle in Ohio. He's a Western Pleasure horse now, but as he matures he may also be shown in English classes as he's fairly tall. He's home now from the Congress and enjoying some well-earned R&R on our farm. In this photo, my husband Jack (who Jackson is named after) was leading him outside the practice ring where our trainer was preparing to work him.

While this isn't a great photo, we could not resist this early morning shot of Freckles a few weeks ago when the moon was full and there was a mist over the paddock. If you can see the detail and are wondering, Freckles is wearing a fly mask that covers his eyes and part of his head. Looks strange, but it helps protect the horses. Jack showed Freckles successfully throughout Florida a couple of years back. Now he works with him here on our farm each day and trail rides around our area some. People ask me if I show or ride the horses. I took some lessons years ago, and can ride some, but it's not my passion. We've decided that I don't make Jack sew and he doesn't make me ride. Works out nicely! And he never complains about the supplies and tools I purchase for making quilts. He says it could never add up to the cost of having horses! He's loved them since he was a teen, so we feel very fortunate to live here in "horse country"- the Ocala, FL area.

Ever-curious Lily had to come and see what we were up to when taking the photos of Freckles. Lily is the kitty we found a couple of years ago on a remote section of a bike path. We couldn't just leave her out there, so she's part of the family now.

And it's been just about a year since Scooter found his way to our farm, too. He was a 12 week old pup I found sitting and shivering at the entry of the barn one morning. Of course we were not looking for a dog, but since he chose us he got to stay, too. He's bigger now, but it's hard to get a photo of him because he's on the move so much. And we no longer have our little Cairn Terrier Jesse who lived till the age of 15. So that's the family down on the farm! A great bunch.