Saturday, January 30, 2010

Nancy Cosmos Debuts at Jenkins Arboretum

Stalking Nancy: Last year at the Lancaster Quilt show I saw this quilt and was simply blown away - the use of color, the movement in the design, everything about this quilt was captivating. The name of the quilt is Hamlet and it was made by Nancy Cosmos, Nancy Cosmos of Malvern - STOP - I live in Malvern and not many quilters slip by my quilter radar. Who is this woman and why don't I know her. The investigation / stalking began - I start e-mailing friends - they don't know her. I realize she actually lives less than a mile from me - who is she and why don't I know her??? That month at my guild meeting, Calico Cutters Quilt Guild of West Chester, PA, this visitor steps up on the stage and unfurls Hamlet - the visitor is Nancy Cosmos - I jumped up and shouted "I've been stalking you" - and so started my friendship with Nancy.

The Opening: Last night Nancy opened an exhibit at Jenkins Arboretum in Wayne. As we walked toward the lovely new visitors center for the arboretum we were greeted by a beautiful view of Nancy's tumbling blocks quilt - it was the perfect lure to pique your curiosity for what awaited you once inside. Nancy has quite a "fan club" as attendance was excellent at her opening. Her quilts were beautifully presented on the massive walls of the visitor's center. Meet Nancy in front of one of her quilts.

One of my favorite quilts was this beautiful impressionistic interpretation of the gardens of the Jenkins Arboretum in bloom. Nancy - congratulations on an amazing show! Pinch yourself - it wasn't a dream!

Nancy's exhibit, Order and Chaos, Color and Perspective will be on exhibit at the Jenkins Arboretum- through February 21 so plan accordingly - you don't want to miss it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Waltz of the Monster Dress Forms

I tend to have a vivid imagination. A few months back I was heading somewhere on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, east out of Valley Forge - probably to either Boston or NYC - where my daughters attend college. It was early morning and the sun was coming up on the horizon when I met the ladies of the turnpike for the first time. We were about four miles east of the Valley Forge entrance to the turnpike when these massive, yet quite graceful, dress forms waltzed into view. They seemed float above the landscape - not sure if they are headed east or west, north or south, but they are a sight to see. Next time you're passing through that area keep an eye out for them.

On to my knitting - I'm currently working on a sweater from CHIC Knits called Ariann - picked it up at Loop in Philly - - a great little knitting store at 1914 South Street. I've finished the body of the sweater and really love the lace pattern. Today I started the sleeves - on double point needles - I am not fond of working on double points - but I did notice a distinct similarity between my knitting on double points and a quilt I created last year. This is a block from the quilt - I call the quilt Illusion #9, and there's an interesting story behind it but that's a later post - maybe I should re-name it to Double Points.

I decided to teach myself something new today - no double p
oints for me - I like them visually, but not for knitting a sleeve. Thanks to Youtube, again, and all of the wonderful people who post fantastic instructional knitting videos, I taught myself how to use 2 circular needles to knit my sleeves. I'll let you know how I progress but so far I definitely think it's an improvement. The double point imagery quilting theme - you can be sure you'll be seeing more of that to be certain.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Seeing Spots

I drive a Bernina Artista 200 - purrs like a kitten. Let's be honest here - I admit to having more than one machine - what if one breaks and I am in the middle of something - believe me - I've tugged every heart string on my husband's conscience and wallet to bring new machines home. Over the years I have collected a slew of various feet and attachments for my machines and honestly, I've never used some of them. The Circular Embroidery Attachment, or kreisstickapparat as Bernina likes to call it, was one of those attachments that had never been freed from the box. Truthfully - I really wasn't sure what it did.

Then the need arose - I promised my friend I would make a quilt for the quilt gallery in her soon to be published book - more exciting news on that later. I was to follow one of her patterns but could alter slightly to show how to manipulate t
he pattern. I chose to add circles - to a bed quilt - a lot of circles - and they had to be appliqued to the quilt using a button hole stitch - by machine - this is not one of my strong points. My initial attempts took a perfectly good circle and turned it into an egg. Then I remembered the kreisstickapparat - or CEA (circular embroidery attachment).

FYI - no fusing of circles for me - I don't particularly like to fuse, and I really don't like it on bed quilts. I cut out circles and basted around them by hand (while watching TV - I should have been knitting). Once basted, I replaced the cardboard template and pulled the basting thread to cinch. A quick press using starch gave me a beautiful circle to start my applique.

I set up the attachment per instructions - yes I used the stinking instructions and Bernina's tutorial ( You can adjust the CEA to change the size of the circle you want by simply sliding the guide. Your fabric attaches to the CEA, with the sharp, protruding pin which will scratch your hand every time if you are not careful - this pin acts as the axis. I was using the buttonhole stitch and found it easy to adjust my stitch during sewing by moving the needle position left or right a tic or two if my circle was slightly off at certain areas - no one is perfect. In about 30 seconds you can sew a perfect 3 inch circle.

Bernina suggests the use of stabilizer - I did not use it and had great results. I suppose if you were using this as intended - to embroider stitching onto a single piece of fabric - you would need the stabilizer. I however I had 3 layers of fabric - background, the circle and the turned edge of the circle - and the power of spray starch! Ta Da! Love this attachment!

What's for dinner tonight - Puebla Chicken and Potato Stew ( Stopped by Talula's Table in Kennet Square last week and picked up some of their house made chorizo - should be great in this recipe.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Evolving as a GEEK

This was a very busy weekend for me - I am diligently working on my website and am basically ready to launch - hallelujah! I've tried a number of different sites and have finally found one I can use - WIX at - a knowledge of html is not required. Before the end of this week, perhaps by the end of the day I will have my website live!

All geekery and no fun can mean a very boring weekend - can't have that. Saturday my husband and I had reservations at Zahav in Philadelphia - one more week of Philadelphia Restaurant Week to go - make your reservations fast! The tasting menu at Zahav,, was excellent - middle eastern food, excellent service, amazing beverages! We actually stopped by one of our favorite watering holes before dinner - Monks' Cafe, - wonderful Belgium beers (Tripel Karmeliet on tap

Saw 2 movies this w
eekend: the Blind Side - excellent; and Crazy Heart - Jeff Bridges was great as was the music, but not much of a story.

Made time to cook on Sunday - a recipe that bears repeating, and I rarely repeat a recipe - Spicy Vietnam
ese Beef and Noodle Soup ( - the rich homemade stock gives it a hearty flavor, but the addition of raw veggies keeps it light at the same time. The recipe calls for oxtails - they make a great stock - if you can't find them you could just use meaty soup bones. Don't skimp on the spices - they give the soup a very intense flavor!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Starting Off the New Year - a little late!

Good Morning! I've finally launched my blog - bear with me while I sort out my technical shortcomings please. I suppose I should explain the name of my blog - a thread from the edge - - - for now, suffice it to say it implies no emotional instabilities. I hope to use this space to share with you my love of quilting, a dash of knitting and all things food - cooking, eating, drinking and "farmer's market-ing".

Jumping right in - I wanted to show you the Christmas gift I made for the incredible women in my quilting group, Layers: Art in Stitches - you'll learn more about them as the blog grows. Coming up with a gift idea for these five women can be a lot of pressure - they are all so talented. I was scanning for an idea when I happened upon - Corinne of September House was selling blanks of 2010 fabric calendars - that was it! - I would purchase the fabric blanks and personalize it with my touch.

Our upco
ming Layers' challenge for the year is bird related so I decided to use a bird as the focus for the calendar. I allowed the striped ribbon which sets the horizontal line to dictate the color of my composition. I practiced my quilted feather (and clearly need a lot more practice!), silk screened "sweetly sings the bird perched high in my quilted tree", used ric rak to trim the movable wing (why movable? where is the bird going? - maybe I am closer to the emotional edge than I thought!), added touches of wool for the leaves and the small birds at the bottom of the quilt, and sewed a button on the date of our birthdays - done, hope you enjoy!

Again, bear with me as I refine my ability to post my blog entries.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Hi all! Welcome to my blog - I'm a quilter and I've decided to share my creations with you. Hope you enjoy!