August 26, 2017

Lake Lure Flower Bridge

Yesterday I finally visited the Lake Lure Flower Bridge. The light was not in my favor as I took this photo of the arch at one end of the bridge.


But basically, the Flower Bridge is a community volunteer effort to turn the decommissioned bridge between Chimney Rock and Lake Lure into a garden paradise. This next shot show the "new" vehicle bridge that is currently in use.


In spite of the fact that the full flush of summer blooms was over, there was still much to see and admire. The plants were well identified by both numerical markers and keys in the garden areas and there was also a free "cell phone" tour you could listen to.

Since I was able to get many nice photos, I will just let you enjoy those without a whole lot of chatter. I know I have some followers who enjoy flower photos as much as I do.
















I had heard about the Flower Bridge and driven by it several times at inopportune times of the year, but it was much more extensive than I imagined and, especially for "locals" it is well worth a stop.



August 25, 2017

A Welcome Blanket

My friend Alice told me about the Welcome Blanket project. (WelcomeBlanket.org)

The basic idea is to contribute a 40 inch square knitted, crocheted or quilted blanket for an immigrant that will be part of a temporary installation at the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago. The project organizer, who is also the person who came up with the idea of the knitted "pussy hats" for the recent Women's March in Washington (and elsewhere), hopes to gather enough blankets which end-to-end would measure the distance of the proposed 1,989 mile Mexican border wall.

The installation is ongoing and they have blankets hanging as well as piles of blankets on display already. The original deadline for submitting blankets was Sept. 5, but I understand they have extended that deadline. (I work better when I have a deadline, so I was glad that I didn't know last week that the deadline had been extended!) You can see the display by visiting WelcomeBlanket.org, as well as get updated information about the project.

They suggest a simple blanket made of half square triangles, which can be arranged in a variety of ways.

Here is my Welcome Blanket:


At the website you can view this PDF which includes all the necessary information as well as a template for a tag to add to your quilt. On the tag you are supposed to write a Welcome Note to the recipient telling a bit about your immigrant story and offering words of encouragement. The blankets will be distributed to refugees and other immigrants through several resettlement organizations once the installation is dismantled at the end of the year.


Here's my blanket, tagged and ready to mail. I will pay my own postage, but there are sponsors who will pay for postage. This might be especially helpful to groups or organizations with limited funds who are mailing multiple blankets.


I've included a photo of my tag. I don't recall any dramatic family stories of oppression or perilous ocean passages, but I have to think that there must have been some compelling reasons or some great allure to make my ancestors decide to leave family and friends in Europe and come to a totally new country so far away.


Anyway, I'm glad they did and I hope that someone receives my blanket who will have a chance to call America home very soon.

I'm glad to be part of this project!


August 12, 2017

Summer fun?

Summertime... and when the weather is nice, I like to be outdoors enjoying it! We certainly had a lot of great weather during July and I played a lot of golf. I keep practicing, eternally optimistic that some day it will all come together in the perfect game.

But I also have been doing some more creative stuff which does eventually reward me with a finished product that I can share with you.

In June I took a workshop with Jane Sassaman learning an appliqué technique she uses on some of her quilted art. It involves fusing fabric onto interfacing, drawing your shapes on the interfacing and then cutting them out. Then you have shapes you can arrange to your liking on your chosen background. Once you've developed your design, then you use decorative stitches to attach the pieces, raw edge, to the backing. As you complete each layer, you cut away the extra fabric behind, so the piece stays supple.

I used the technique to make a 6 1/2 inch "president's block" for our last year's AQG president who requested hearts on a white background. Looking at the back of this simple block you can see that two layers of the red fabric centers were cut out. 


For my class project, I brought this photo of a blue poppy that I took at Butchart Gardens in June.


And came up with this final product which I will bring to the AQG meeting this coming week and donate to the small quilt silent auction at our quilt show. (Proceeds from this silent auction support our guild's community quilt program.)


It was a fun workshop, but to be honest, I'm not thrilled with the technique. I've come to accept and enjoy raw edge fused appliqué, but the fusible interfacing does not seal the edges as well as fusible web, so in my mind, no amount of decorative thread stitching really captures all those frayed edges to my liking.

One of the hand sewing projects I have been enjoying this spring involves sewing coordinated fabrics into strips which I then finish into blocks with my sewing machine. Starting with three charm squares (5 inch squares) which I've cut in quarters and a coordinating solid center 2 1/2 inch square, I make up packets so that I can hand sew the three square strips and the five square strips. Sometimes I hand sew the white triangles on the end, too. But then I machine sew the strips together and add the corner white triangles, since they then need to be cut down a little to measure 8 inches square.
The blocks are fun to make, use up a lot of scraps, and are very easy to transport so I can sew while being a passenger on a road trip, in a hotel room, at my kid's homes, at outdoor concerts, a bee... where ever.
So, I recently finished my first quilt made with these blocks. I arrange each block into what looks most pleasing to me that day and it surprised me when I put them together how the different values make the blocks look different. Some look like "X" and others like lines of diamonds and others you can clearly see the central 9 patch. I think that gives this scrappy quilt top a bit of interest.


I had some coordinated tealish aqua fabrics in my stash that I used for a pieced backing and binding.


I like to "stage" quilt photos over my living room couch.


The couch gets little use, so until I decide where this quilt will ultimately end up, I will enjoy seeing it displayed on my couch. Maybe when my grandkids visit this week, one of them will claim it.


You might remember from an earlier post that my friend Alice and I made "Turning Twenty" quilt tops at our spring retreat from fabric that was gifted to us. This was actually a "Mountain Jam Circle" collaborative project, so the quilt tops went to our friend Cheryl's to be quilted after Alice scrapped together some beautiful backings. A couple weeks ago, I got one of the quilts returned to me so that I could sew on the binding. Ta Da! It's done. Here it is on my couch. Isn't it pretty?


And here is a close up showing some of the fabrics and the nice all over quilt pattern Cheryl chose.


I didn't actually measure it, but I think it's about 70 x 80.  Our hope is that it will go to our local Hospice facility, along with it's partner quilt, to give comfort to someone in need.

And finally...
My friend Sue and I went to a fun event at Blue Ghost Brewery a couple of weeks ago. I think it was called "Blooms and Brews." The event was run by two young women, one was the "flower expert" and the other was the "painting expert." We were given a canvas and a variety of paint materials and some direction for painting the background of our masterpiece. We put those aside to dry.
Then we were given some suggestions for composing flower arrangements and we were let loose to choose our focal flowers, secondary flowers and greenery fill ins from a lovely selection of flowers that were brought in from a local flower farm.
Here is my arrangement which was then used as inspiration for finishing my painting.


And here is my interpretation!


It was a very enjoyable evening!
And it's been a delightful summer!



July 13, 2017

More Pisgah Forest...

I thought that the Catawba Rhododendrons deserved their own post, but there is always much to see and do in the Pisgah Forest. It's a real treasure.

Last Sunday we went to an outdoor concert at the Cradle of Forestry which is several miles into the forest park. The C of F, which is a national historic site, is the location of the first school of forestry which grew out of G. W. Vanderbilt's love of nature. The property was originally used by the Vanderbilt's for hunting parties from the Biltmore Estate which is quite a few miles away. The Vanderbilt's originally owned all the land between the two properties, and amazing piece of real estate!

Our first stop yesterday was at the Fish Hatchery. The parking lot was teeming with hiking parties, camp groups, and families out for their day of adventure. There is an interpretive building on site and we looked at the aquaria which showcased the water creatures of the area... snakes, toads, salamanders, a hell bender, and of course, trout.

It's always fascinating to walk along the concrete pools outdoors where the trout are raised to maturity. It's a little difficult to capture them in a photograph, but here's a try.



For a quarter you can purchase a handful of fish food and when you throw it in a pool it creates quite a frenzy!

We took some time to walk one of the trails adjacent to the fish hatchery that wove through a pollinator garden and over several little bridges.











I'm sure you recognize these common butterfly and bee attractors, but I wasn't sure what tree produced these interesting white puffs. I'll have to do some research unless you can tell me. They are cool, though, aren't they?



And then we drove the short distance to Looking Glass Falls... and descended the 100 or so steps to bottom where there were lots of bathers on this warm day!







It is a pretty spot and attracts a lot of visitors because of it's proximity to the road. We had planned to do a short hike into another waterfall just a mile or so beyond Looking Glass, but as soon as we got to our car, the heavens opened and it started to rain! Brevard is practically a rain forest and so this kind of quick onset shower is never surprising, but it did discourage us from pursuing our hike yesterday.


Pink Catawba Rhododendrons!

Yesterday we took a ride to the Pisgah Forest to gather some photos of the Catawba Rhododendrons in bloom.

Rhodies grow wild along many of the mountain roads and when we moved here 12 years ago, I expected we would see them blooming everywhere. Surprisingly many of those roadside plants don't seem to have that many noticeable flowers. Several times we have driven to Roan Mountain to see the dark pink rhododendrons and flame azaleas in bloom at high elevations toward the middle and end of June. It's a long drive, not far from Mt. Mitchell and at a fairly high elevation, but well worth the effort.

Pisgah Forest is a mere half hour away, so I was delighted to find the pale pink Catawba Rhododendrons in full bloom this late in the summer. I guess it must be at a higher elevation than it seems and to see the most profusion right now you have to drive into the park several miles, just past Looking Glass Falls.


It's hard to capture from a distance, but the photo below shows some bushes on the other side of the stream to give you an idea of the profusion of plants and blossoms.


The thickets of plants are years old and they rise in the air probably 20 or more feet to catch the sun among the canopy of other trees. Their branches create a tangle of growth to negotiate on the trails. This photo of Russ ducking under the growth gives you a little idea of how they create tunnels over the trails.


So, here are some close up photos of some of the flowers. You can see the buds are a darker pink and the flowers themselves are so pale that many appear to be almost white.







And finally a lone plant in bloom near Looking Glass Falls.


It's really a spectacular display and we were lucky to witness it this year!