Thursday, April 29, 2010

Making Progress

Just a quick update - I'm plowing ahead with my Tweets Challenge entry - finally decided what to do with the corner that had me stumped. There is an outside chance it can be completed tomorrow - Saturday is more realistic.

Check out these blogs - I have found a great deal of inspiration from them:
Geninne's Art Blog
Lisa Congdon's blog
Renee Harris' website

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

I am BUSY as all get out today working on my challenge entry for the Layers' Tweets Challenge. I am just about finished but I'm now at a complete standstill, I'm stymied, it's like I ran head on into a stop sign.
My fellow Layers' members tell of the tale of the curse of the challenge host - I have it! I am 75% completed with my challenge piece - I have one corner of my entry to design / finish - and I just cannot decide what to put in that space - - - I reached the dreaded Fork in the Road!

I love this picture, and I promise you will see it more than once at this web site. About the Fork in my road - - - I have a look that I am going for with this piece, but I also have an easy button option - they are not one in the same. I would love for any and all suggestions - I could babble on about the current state of the piece and you could give me suggestions - - but then I would take the surprise away from my fellow lurking Layerettes - can't do it. The reveal is Monday - the pressure is on - I work best under pressure. I'll come up with something and by next week you too will get to see the piece.

Here are 2 travel posters I wanted to share with you - I just love them. The one on the left is so fun - women shopping perhaps for clothing - I'd like to think it is fabric.

This TWA poster for NYC is amazing - it screams "quilt me"
Check this out - Interesting Philly Artist - - - Take a look at Mark Khaisman's web site - he's an artist that uses tape as his "paint". His work is so intriguing!

Monday, April 26, 2010

You're Gonna Need One of These - Promise!

I'm doing some hand sewing for my Layers' challenge - yes, hand sewing - I must be crazy. Every time I sit down to do any hand sewing I am always thankful for my needle threader from Clover. I use a #10 needle for most of my hand sewing - these little buggers can be a bear to thread.

With this fun little gadget you simply put the needle in the hole and lay the thread into the thread slot. Then presto - push the little lever down and magically - - -

the needle is threaded with a little loop that you simply pull through and knot. I love this thing - don't know what I ever did without it!

Delicious dinner tonight - Chicken and Dandelion Gratin - I love the bitterness of dandelion greens. This dish was so simple - I made a few changes to lighten it up:
1. omitted the cream and substituted a low fat milk
2. used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of the breasts
3. reduced the butter by half
4. omitted the eggs - not sure why you would want them
I served the gratin with thee beautiful steamed carrots - purple carrots! They were fresh from the farm - sweet as candy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What's for Dinner

Tonight's menu features a "what's on hand dinner" - my favorite kind of dinner - no recipe - work with what I've got on hand - a beautiful pasta, mustard greens, lemons, smoked salmon and a divine fresh tomato from a Lancaster county hothouse. That tomato was so flavorful I had a flash back / forward to a 90 degree August day - amazing!

If you've never tried mustard greens now is the time to give them a try. Spring mustard greens are mellow compared to the bitterness they develop over the hot summer months. They are so simple to prepare - all they need is a wilting in a hot pan.

My dinner tonight features this gorgeous pasta from Severino - it looks like thin strands of lasagna noodles.

Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Mustard Greens in a Lemon Cream Sauce
3/4 pound pasta
1/2 to 3/4 cup cream
zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch mustard greens
4 ounces smoked salmon, flaked
1 tomato, cubed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed - reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Place cream, lemon zest and garlic in a small sauce pan - heat to simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and strain. In a large skillet heat olive oil, add the mustard greens and turn constantly with tongs until wilted, add the salmon, tomato, cream and Parmesan cheese - toss to coat. Add the pasta - toss again to thoroughly combine, add the reserved pasta water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Done!

Mmmmm! Here - have a bite! Yummy!

Dessert - stewed rhubarb and vanilla ice cream - hello spring!

My husband were driving around Lancaster county today and stopped by Zook's in Intercourse - love their pricing system - masking tape. This is a shop which had gas lights illuminating the shop until just a few years ago - gas lights and fabric - what could possibly go wrong??? I picked up the fabric for my entry in my guild's baby quilt challenge - the two prints are from Andover fabric, the solids are Kauffman. I've got an idea and can't wait to finish the bird quilt challenge to start on the baby quilt.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Broke My Foot Today

What a day I've had, and PAINFUL!!! I don't even know what I did - but somehow it just broke - a complete and compound fracture - osteoporosis??? I just can't believe I broke my foot - my favorite foot - the foot I use more than any other foot in my foot collection.

Did you think I meant right or left??? Break one of those appendages and you get a pair of crutches - not perfect, but you can muddle through your day with them. I'm talking about #34 - I broke my #34 - and I have no idea what precipitated this horrible event - overuse??? There is no true replacement for #34 - no crutches to get you through your sewing without #34. This is no laughing matter!

Its a clean break alright - no screws are going to hold this in place. I love this foot - I can see exactly where my needle is going. I use it for all piecing, machine applique, some quilting and any regular sewing I do. I assume it just wore out! Off to Hinkletown - I need to replace this foot immediately! I've got a drawer full of other feet but none are as anatomically correct as #34.

I'm working on my bird quilt for my Layers challenge and I simply cannot share my progress with you - there are Layers spies lurking everywhere. I have been painting some background fabric - here is a piece I painted which will not work for the challenge, but it is way cool. I used Seta paints for the background and then highlighted it with a light glazing of these fantastic metallic paints from Stewart Gill - I don't really like metallics, but this stuff is very subtle - I picked it up in Houston 2 years ago - not sure where you can purchase it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cooking Class with Me!

Disclaimer - this is not a self-portrait - it is a quilt I made a few years back for I a cookbook I was putting together for my guild. Saucy gets a lot of attention!

Yesterday I hosted a cooking class at my home - I donated it as an auction item for my guild's annual auction - I had a total of 8 participants - what fun! Of course I was so busy teaching and preparing that I had no time to snap photographs - drat!

I love to teach cooking classes - I love talking food, sharing my two cents on nutrition (I'm a dietitian) and providing instruction on food science and food preparation techniques. I am seriously considering starting up a cottage industry teaching cooking classes out of my house - I have the prefect kitchen for it - all interested parties feel free to contact me.

Here's the menu from yesterday's class with links to the recipe - wish you could have been here!

Rustic Rosemary Tart on Puff Pastry
Roasted Asparagus with Pancetta Vinaigrette

Shrimp with Shallot / Tarragon Sauce on Wilted Spinach
Velvety Puree of Celeriac and Golden Potatoes

Grapefruit and Campari Granita
Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies

I love to cook and I love to quilt - thank heavens I don't have to pick favorites - there's room in my life for me to do it all - and more!

Addendum - many thanks to Joanne for the very fun gift - I love my apron and all of the comments from the class participants!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Want One!

How cool is this machine!!!

It's from Yanko Design and it was designed by
Monika Jakubek and Anna Müller. But it's way more than just a cool looking contemporary sewing machine.

Those are ink cartridges - they color match your thread and literally print your thread to the correct color to match your fabric! What??? - Shut Up!!!!

One little pet peeve that matters big time - what is it with that bobbin - all I really want in the next version of a sewing machine is a BIG BOBBIN.

It even has an uber cool table! Fix the bobbin issue and I'm in.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tile Work as Inspiration

One last post from my trip to Reading last week. Jason Messinger, a ceramicist based in Chicago, had an exhibit at The Goggleworks titled Symbols and Sympathies - the exhibit is now over but I did get some great photos of his work. His exhibit consisted primarily of square tiles, about 8 x 8 inches - I loved the way they were displayed - very quilt-like.

I love the following two tiles - the letters are so bold.

I'm currently working on a baby quilt as an entry in my guild's upcoming challenge and I had already planned using lettering on the quilt - new inspiration for me from these tiles. The color combination of the deep gun metal and turquoise was so striking.

The tiles were sold individually, not as groupings. This collection really caught my eye - monotone, yet so textural.

I spent most of today working on my bird challenge - can't share anything with you now, but I promise I am taking photos of my progress to share with you after the reveal early May. I made time today to visit Art Quilt Elements at the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, PA and will post a review later this week after a return visit - I need some time to think about the exhibit before I comment.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Seeing is Believing!

On the way home from the Goggleworks last week I stopped at Ladyfingers Sewing in Oley - this is the building - it sits in the middle of corn fields. It was an old road house - my soon to be 90 year old Mother remembers going to hoedowns here when she was a teen. Ladyfingers is owned by Gail Kessler, who in her spare time is also marketing director for Andover Fabrics - over-achiever!

I've posted a few times in the past about the incredible thread selection at Ladyfingers, but I thought I'd let the pictures show you the extent of Gail's thread obsession. Oliver Twist - love it!

Superior Threads.

Presencia - love this thread but hate the spool - please Presencia get rid of the embossed spools!

Ahhhh! - the infamous YLI Soft Touch bobbin thread - Gail- we're running low.

I love Madeira colors and the rayon sheen.

Aurifil is fantastic!

Full collection of Mettler.

I think this is more YLI.


Full color range of Presencia.

Denise - Gail's right and left hand while she is in NYC all week at Andover, assures me that all of these threads are going to be added to their on-line purchasing site. Until then, all you have to do is call and they would be happy to ship anywhere.

In addition to thread, the store is chockful of fabric and fantastic notions. Gail keeps the entire line of Dimples from Andover in stock. Believe me now???

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Field Trip to Goggleworks

I had an amazing day today, and met another amazing fiber artist - another Quilt National fiber artist - I'm such a groupie!

Today a friend and I took a trip to Reading, about an hours ride due west from Philadelphia, to visit the Goggleworks. The Goggleworks, named after the factory building it inhabits which used to make, you guessed it, goggles - is a gallery and artists studio cooperative. There is nothing like the Goggleworks in the Philadelphia area. Washington DC has the Torpedo Factory which functions along the same lines, but personally I think the Goggleworks is far superior.

Goggleworks is currently hosting a fiber exhibit which ends April 18th. You are welcomed into the gallery containing the fiber exhibit by an absolutely amazing work by Mary Stoudt, a past participant in Quilt National at the Dairy Barn. I love Mary's work - her sense of color and her ability to capture light make her compositions electric.

Mary actually has studio space in the Goggleworks and much to our delight was in her studio today. Meet Mary! My friend Nancy Cosmos and I had a delightful visit with Mary - we saw many of her works up close and personal and had the opportunity to discuss her technique and quilting philosophy. Mary's quilts are raw edge, never fused, and typically quilted on a grid. She paints and dyes much of her fabric. She has a wonderful new piece hanging in her studio of a cityscape. In addition to her quilts she showed us some felted pieces, beaded works and even pottery that she's been working on. She informed us she is typically in her studio on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'd love to return to visit with Mary and watch her construction process - hmmm - wonder if I'll be invited --- Mary???

This is another quilt of Mary's from the exhibit - it is made of layers of wools - very 3-D.

I've been having a number of "coincidental occurrences" lately - I find them a smidge unsettling and creepy - well it happened again today. We found this beautiful woven piece by Karen Henderson in the gallery - I just love the way the path draws you into the trees.

When I got home this afternoon I went to my computer to up load my photos only to find this postcard on my computer. I put the postcard there yesterday - I found it in my sewing room and I wanted to make a point to find time to look the artist up on line. The postcard, from Karen Henderson, is from November 2009 when she was showing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. The photo on the postcard is of her piece, Perseverance - same quilt I saw in the show today. See - unsettling, right?

I think this piece is interesting, Float by Amanda Salm, woven from horse hair.

This "playful" little piece is special - Le Sudoku de l'Artiste, by Barbara J. Walker - a woven sudoku game using found objects for the numbers.

Faye Youse created this beautiful 3 dimensional, felted piece titled Survival. It reminds me of my walk at French Creek this past weekend.

Apparently the Goggleworks made more than just goggles. Ladies - don't leave the house today without your Saf-T-Bra - - - Protection For Women in Industry! At least they had perforations to allow for air exchange - you know how uncomfortable it can be when your breasts sweat! Now, come on - who thought of this, and more importantly, who wore this????

An interesting observation about the Goggleworks - it's in Reading, PA - a town which has suffered from a lot of bad press as a result of their significant issues with rising crime. The establishment of the Goggleworks in a "difficult" area of Reading created an opportunity for people to return to Reading for entertainment. The Goggleworks neighborhood now boasts an Imax theater and an indie theater (in the Goggleworks). A hotel has also moved into the area, as well as multiple other businesses. Folks - this is what art can bring about - - - It creates a reason to gather, creates discussion, and enlightens all of us.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sue Benner's in Town

Last year I ended my stint as program chairperson for my guild, Calico Cutters Quilt Guild of West Chester, PA. Let me tell you - I took the opportunity to fill the schedule with tons of fantastic speakers and the person at the top of my list was Sue Benner - I have loved her work for years. Well this is Sue Benner week in the greater Philadelphia area. I convinced Sue to visit by coordinating numerous venues for her - guilds, a historical society, and the Wayne Art Center.

Meet Sue, quilt artist extraordinaire.

This morning she was the speaker at my guild - her lecture described the jurying process for Quilt National - it is an amazing process. I saw her again this evening at the Chester County Historical Society for the lecture on her design and construction process, again, amazing. She's hosting a two day workshop tomorrow and Friday at the Historical Society which still has openings - they did not do a very good job publicizing her events. She will be the keynote speaker this weekend for the opening of Art Quilt Elements at the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, PA. She lectures in our area so seldom that you really should make every effort to see her if possible.

By all means visit her website - her fused and quilted collages are bursting with color and movement. More on the Wayne Art Center Elements exhibit next week - it opens this Saturday.