Friday, April 26, 2013

Frederick Law Olmsted’s Birthday

Are you familiar with the work of Frederick Law Olmsted?  He was born on this date in 1822.

Oil portrait by John Singer Sargent
Olmsted essentially founded the profession of landscape architecture in America, and even if you don’t know his name, I’m sure you know some of his works.  He co-designed both Central Park and Prospect Park (both in NYC), one of the first planned communities (Riverside, IL), and many coordinated systems of public parks and parkways across the US (e.g., Buffalo, Milwaukee, Louisville, et al). 
Central Park, NYC
Olmsted was innovative and vitally interested in conservation.  His efforts resulted in lands being set aside for the first national park at Yosemite Valley and aided in preserving the natural wonders of Niagara Falls.  Definitely, a man before his time.

Niagara Falls
Olmsted also had a career in journalism.  He wrote and published a book entitled Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England after visiting public gardens in England in 1852.  Olmstead’s friend described his work as follows:  “An artist, he paints with lakes and wooded slopes; with lawns and banks and forest covered hills; with mountain sides and ocean views”. 

As we move into Spring, it is fitting that we pause to remember the contributions of visionaries like Olmsted and enjoy the parks and urban oasis that they were instrumental in setting aside for us.  It kind of of makes me want to make up a floral quilt right now!

To learn more about landscape architecture, see this site:
 I found the links on that site about Therapeutic Gardens and Public Gardens particularly interesting.  Here are some more examples of Olmsted’s work:
Capitol grounds, Washington, DC
Reflecting Pool at UC-Berkeley

Columbia Exposition of 1893, Chicago

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring Means Babies

Our resident Limpkins have had a family.  These wading birds eat freshwater snails, mussels, frogs, etc. and the mom and dad are teaching their four offspring to find their own food along the edge of our pond.  Due to the decline of their favorite delicacy, the FL Apple Snail, they are seen less frequently in Florida (their only range) and becoming a “species of concern”.
Mom with 3 of the babies
This guy is also a temporary resident of the pond (they move around in the spring), so the parents must be vigilant.
Wally Gator on Patrol
 So far they’ve done a good job and the babies are growing and developing wing feathers.
Dad with the 4th chick
Speaking of baby animals, this is my latest finish:

I wrote in an earlier post about sewing some elephants upside down on this, but I recently told my On-line guild about how the troubles just kept on comeing in constructing this simplest of quilt designs:
1.  As mentioned, I sewed some elephant strips on upside down and had to rip them out and sew again
2.  Then I quilted some feathers – the first row of them was wonderful – the second row was an oopsie since the loops went opposite directions
3.  Then when I went to take it off the frame I discovered the backing was 2 inches too short – bummer – fortunately, with this design I could cut off a piece of the top to match the bottom in length
4.  And finally, I forgot to change the thread color when I was eagerly putting a fancy stitch on the binding – it is sewn with white thread instead of tan.

I’m guessing a kid won’t notice!  And BTW, this quilt is modified from the design called Quick Strippie at  I’m not going with “easy” next time … LOL.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Yardwork and Quilty Progress

Into each life some yardwork must fall … and it’s mulch season around my house.  The weather has been so weird that I’ve been neglecting my yard (great excuse, huh?).  And it sure did need some work done.  So yesterday and today I went to town on the yard, so to speak.  I pulled weeds, cut back bushes and put down lots of mulch.  I still have half of the front to do, but it is looking so-o-o- much better that I’ll bet the neighbors are cheering!
It's getting there!

I love the African Iris in bloom!

I also dusted the entire house, finished up through Clue 2 of the red/white/blue mystery and laid out the fabrics for my next child’s quilt.  What a great day!
Mystery in progress - all cut and labeled for the next clue

This panel has lots of animals - the green is not true-to-color

PS  I think I need a nap …

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Following Directions

When I take a class or try something new, I usually follow the directions to a “T”.  In between working on children’s quilts, I’m working on a mystery quilt now and the instructions call for ironing all of the seams open, something I've seldom done.
Lovely pressed seams
I’ve actually been doing this and the blocks are resulting in exact squares and lay nice and flat.  I don’t know why I’ve resisted ironing seams open in the past!
Mystery Block A - I now have 24 done

This one is red/white & blue and will be donated to Quilts of Valor.
Ingredients ready to go when clues arrive!
Can’t wait to see how this mystery is solved!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Something Simple

Sometimes you just want to use up a few fabric leftovers and make up something quick and easy.  That’s the theory anyway.  I have used the Quick Strippie pattern from before with great success.  No matter what novelties you use, this design always looks great - and you can modify it to fit the fabric pieces you have available.

So I blissfully cut up the leftover smallish pieces from the tote bag I made for Sadie’s Dream for a Cure (see this post) and began sewing the strips together:
See what’s wrong with the above picture?  Those darn elephants on top are standing on their heads!  I knew the jungle print was directional, but I thought that the goofy elephants went every which-away in the other fabric .  Well, no they don't - sure, it's easy to see now.  Glad I own a seam ripper (don’t we all have that old-faithful tool readily at hand?!) …

But now the strippie is done, the fabric is all used up, and it’s on the frame to quilt.  Simple can be made simply after all – LOL!

I did make up some star block kits for my Quilts of Valor group meeting later this month.
~25 kits for star blocks

sample star blocks

Maybe that’s why my brain was tired!  A star-in-a-star pattern can be found at McCall’s Quilting:
Where this pattern has an internal star, we will be using the pinwheels that result from our leftover triangles from snowball blocks – waste not, want not they always say!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

One More Quilted

I finished quilting the last of the three tops I received from a fellow member of the Sunshine On-line Quilt Guild.  This one was great fun to work with.  I have to confess a weakness for calico fabrics and this one was a showcase for them.  I did small meandering in the white backgrounds and a ring of hearts in the centers of the blocks.  That made the monkey wrenches pop out.  I wish I had a better camera to take pictures because the quilt is marvelous in real life!
Detail of calico

Detail of ring of hearts

Beth's Quilt
I have one more quilt to bind and then this box will go off to Wrap-a-Smile and then on to children having cleft lip/palate surgery.  Sometimes older children and even adults get facial repairs, so this quilt is sure to find the right person to snuggle up to it – it’s perfect for any age!