Auspicious-est

 

 A so-called “big” birthday. 

All the auspicious auguries and signs reassure me that the next 60 years will be as good as the last!  

 

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Our Quilt Guild Show!

IMG_8836The biennial show of the Champlain Valley Quilters’ Guild of New York was just over a week ago—it was wonderful fun, but pretty intense!

There were a few days there when I didn’t care if I ever saw another quilt!!

But I’ve gotten over that and am thinking happily about new projects, inspired by the work shown by my guild mates and by the vintage and antique quilts on display as well.

For those of you who don’t quilt and haven’t been to a quilt show, a little background might help. A local show like this is not juried—members of the guild can enter quilts that have not been shown in previous years. A numbers of awards are given by community members and by voting among attendees.

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Made by Anne Gillette. This quilt is about 26″ square and was acknowledged by attendees as “Best of Show.” It’s made by a technique called paper piecing. (Sorry about the keystoned image–it was hung above my head!)

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The strips of fabric are about 1/4″ wide!!

Many of the quilts are projects of the quilter’s own choice but others are made around a theme or challenge held by the guild.

For instance, a guild challenge we had last year was to make a long, narrow seasonal banner of a certain size and with a specified range of colors. The fun came with seeing how different makers translated the theme. (You can see larger, full images by clicking on the photos.)

Other special displays were made of mystery quilts (the quilters choose fabrics then follow directions given out over time, to make a pattern that will only come clear at the end of the project), quilts made by junior quilters, and a memorial display, with quilts made by guild members who have recently died.

You may remember me writing about the “Cot to Coffin” quilts done for the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. Some of those quilts were also displayed together. For lots of photos of those, you could visit the original post.

Probably my favorite part of any show is the inclusion of antique and vintage quilts owned by guild members. We had a “bed turning” display that was very popular with show attendees. The format was a stack of old quilts layered on a bed. Each was revealed as its history and story were told. The quilts ranged from 150 years old to 9 years old. We had four generations of quilts from one family and poignant stories. Grandma Van’s quilt made its appearance, too!

Guild shows often reflect the region in which the quilters live and what I would call the guild’s group style and values. Our guild has a definite focus on nature and rusticity, and the members seem to prefer traditional styles and patterns. I saw a lot of pictorial quilts and almost none that I would call “art” quilts (although I would consider many of them artistic). Many of the quilts demonstrate superb technical skills and most are machine quilted, some with virtuosity. As a whole, the guild tends not to do a lot of handwork, although some hand appliqué was astounding.

Here are some of the quilts that caught my eye! So many were wonderful–I wish I could include them all.

And, because some of you were nice enough to show interest, these are my quilts from the show. I’m a hand quilter and, mostly, a hand piecer.

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Autumn as Antidote

IMG_4087A young friend liked Disneyworld. He really did. But at the end of a busy, exciting day, he burst into sobbing tears.

His parents asked him what was wrong. Through his tears, he said, “Too much people, Mommy. Too much people.” That little introvert had had enough.

Yesterday, after three days of work at the quilt guild show, of smiling and meeting and greeting, I knew exactly how he felt.

I enjoyed it. I really did. But, by Sunday night, this little introvert had had enough.

I was drained. Exhausted. It had been busy and exciting, but so many people!

Yesterday was my antidote, to get me back on track, back to quiet and solitude, back to myself.

Autumn was my anodyne.

And we fit all of autumn into one quiet, perfect, healing day.

With piercing bright sunshine, a dancing breeze, and temperatures in the 60s and 70s, it was the most exquisite fall day imaginable. The autumn foliage season was at its peak. We started by taking our annual leaf-peeping drive.

With each sparkling, falling leaf, I could truly feel my shoulders settle down, from their tense, hunched state. Silence was as golden as the leaves. We didn’t talk much, except to exclaim about a particular tree or an extraordinary view.

Want to see some of them? (Sorry there are so many–I had trouble choosing! Click on them to see the shining details of autumn in the Adirondacks!)

When the leaf-peeping tour was complete, we stopped for an apple crumb-top pie at an orchard where people waited in line to take photos of their little children with big pumpkins.

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We went out to lunch, at the spot we knew the beers would be coldest.

Home for a quick nap and then the autumn perfection continued.

A guitar and singing by the lake, the best songs for the last night we will sit here until May.

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Warming drinks and steak on the grill. Family and a perfect campfire.

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A sunset to bring summer and autumn 2015 into perfect harmony.

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Maybe autumn is meant for introverts and that’s why it’s my favorite season. A time when voices can seem a little too loud and we don’t need to say much, just keep our eyes open.

During autumn, I don’t feel a need for lots of people to keep me company—just the most special ones. It’s a time when we’re busy turning inward, making plans for the cocoon of our winter home, and relishing every bright, sunny moment because we know darkness and cold lies ahead.

I know not everyone loves autumn—some see it as a dying season, and feel melancholy. I don’t think I ever feel more alive and energized. After yesterday, I am whole again. I can face people and deadlines and maybe even quilting!

How about you? Are you an autumn-loving introvert?

Keeping It Real: Preparation for the Quilt Guild Show

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Oh, those loving hands at home! Not only can you see the product of loving hands, right now, in the North Country, you can actually HEAR the loving hands—the chugging sound of an old Singer Featherweight, the whir of a high-powered long-arm quilting machine, the snip of scissors.

The soft curses under the breath. Well . . . maybe that’s just me.

You see, tomorrow is the day when the quilts get hung for our local guild’s biennial show. Some 400 quilts will be dropped off and hoisted onto racks.

And that means a whole lot of quilters are working frantically today, to finish those quilts.

We all like to show off our finished products and, as bloggers know, we love to show pretty pictures of pristine projects, perfectly finished.

But in the spirit of keeping it real, most crafters would need to admit that, though we do what we do for love, we still procrastinate in doing it. Why? Because we still believe that we work best under pressure, just as we did when we were in junior high, trying to finish that book report on Catcher in the Rye.

So, I’m keeping it honest here and admitting that I spent the last several hours of my life, hours I will never have back again, removing cat hair from the quilts I will enter into this show.

My fellow quilters are finishing sewing on the binding and are making pretty labels for their quilts. Some will sit in their cars tomorrow, at the show locale, and put in the last stitches before, triumphant, they bring the quilt inside.

Me? I used up an acre of extra-sticky lint roller tape. (Who invented lint rollers? Where is their Nobel prize?!)

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I had to do the front and back of each quilt because quilters love to look at the backs of other people’s quilts.

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Who puts black fabric on the back of a quilt that resides in a multi-cat home?

Hey! You! Get off of my quilt!

Hey! You! Get off of my quilt!

Right this second, my quilts look as good as they ever have. They are secured in plastic bags and will be put in a cat-free zone until morning, assuming there is such a place in this house!

We’ll all finish our final tweaks and cut the last stray threads. And, come Saturday morning, the doors will open on an Adirondack-themed wonderland of creativity and the efforts of loving hands.

Everything will look perfect and the sounds of sewing machine and scissors (and swearing, but that’s just me) will be replaced by oohs and ahhs of admiration and compliments for the work on display.

I wish you could be there!

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Can This Marriage Be Saved?

IMG_4076In the spirit of the long-running column, Can This Marriage Be Saved?, from the magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal, today’s post will explore a troubled relationship in my own home, and its chances for success.

Kerry’s turn:

I didn’t want a new love. I had lots of others I was involved with and the relationships were comfortable. I had a busy, fulfilling life and the last thing I needed was weaving.

But weaving was so charming! I’ll admit, it wrapped me up and tied me into knots. I was completely infatuated! I dropped my other relationships or rushed through time with them, in order to spend more time with weaving. I didn’t care about any of those others—I thought about weaving all the time.

And weaving wanted it that way. It wanted all of me.

I liked that weaving was deep and complex and demanding. I didn’t mind the inconvenience or the cost or the quirkiness. I didn’t love everything about weaving—the physical abuse that came from dressing the loom, the temperamental little fits it would throw, if everything wasn’t just so. But I was willing to overlook all that.

I was in love.

Lately, though, weaving is different. The tension is weird. It’s like, if I don’t give it all my time, it does things wrong on purpose, just to punish me. Every time we get together—and I really am trying to spend time with it, as much as I can, I mean, I have a life outside of weaving—every time we get together, it messes with my mind.

It acts up, does little things to confuse me and get me all nervous and unsettled. And it tells me it’s all my fault. I don’t know, I just don’t feel so comfortable and happy with it anymore.

Weaving’s turn:

At first, it was great; she was great. She gave me all her time and treated me as her top priority. I never made any secret of what I wanted from her—devotion, time, energy, forgiveness.

I know I’m not easy. I’ve heard that before and many of my relationships fail because people think I’m too demanding. But she claimed to want that from me. She said she loved that not everyone could make it work with me, and that she wanted to learn everything about me, even if it took a lifetime.

She’s changed. She doesn’t spend time with me like she did and, even when we’re together, she’s distracted and irritable. If things don’t go exactly her way, she stomps out of the room. And she blames me.

And she’s definitely seeing others. It’s clear she’s cheating on me with chocolate and quilting, and she even thinks she should spend time with her family! And her cats! I mean, she knew that cats and I wouldn’t mesh well, but she got more of them anyway!

I’ve about had it with her. She knew I was looking for a monogamous, committed relationship and now I see her as a dilettante. I can make things very uncomfortable for her if she is going to treat me so casually . . . .

The counselor’s turn:

Like so many new couples, Kerry and weaving got caught up in the halcyon newness of the relationship. They focused on the here-and-now, all the perfect little moments together, and didn’t plan for a long-term commitment.

Their early total devotion to each other was unsustainable—we all need other people and interests in our lives. Kerry set up false expectations when she spent so much time with weaving and swore she’d never leave it, but weaving should also know, from past relationships with others, that relationships ebb and flow. Weaving can’t expect 100% of Kerry’s time and affection.

They both need to know that relationships are difficult and that, to last, consistent effort needs to be made. Consistency is a key—the relationship needs to be a priority every day, they need to spend time together, get to know each other at a deeper level, and not expect everything to always be wine and roses.

Weaving is not willing to put up with an on-again/off-again affair. Kerry will need to decide if she is willing to commit to the demands it will place on her. She knows that the payoff to that commitment is great . . . but is she willing to make hard choices?

Weaving needs to be more patient. The relationship is new and weaving is not the easiest partner to get along with. Weaving needs to remember that passive/aggressive behavior—the petulant breaking of warp threads or tangling of pattern and tabby wefts—are never a healthy way to deal with stresses in a relationship.

These two have strengths that can complement each other and I believe the relationship can, indeed, be saved. Patience, consistency, and relaxed time together should help them get through this tangled web they’ve woven. Come on you two–make it work!