England 2014: York! Saturday, August 16

November 2nd, 2014
Banners in the Quilt Museum, York, England.  Other than these banners, photography was not allowed.

Banners in the Quilt Museum, York, England. Other than these banners, photography was not allowed.  Glad I could snap there–they are lovely!

Saturday was our day to meet Hanneke W., an internet friend who lives near York.  Eli needed a sleep-in day, so I arranged to meet Hanneke at the Quilt Museum in York and then Eli would join us about lunch time.  As you might gather by our jackets, the weather turned a tad nippy and blustery that Saturday.

With online friend, and now in person friend, Hanneke!

With online friend, and now in person friend, Hanneke!

We had a wonderful visit at the Quilt Museum, where we saw costumes from Downton Abbey including garments worn by the wonderful Maggie Smith as The Dowager Countess Grantham, aka Aunt Violet.   I want her wit, but being in the presence of her costume, alas, did not impart that skill!

The hostel was about a mile and a half from the old medieval walls of York, so Eli and I walked in each day

Our walk from the hostel to the old part of the city went down this road.

Our walk from the hostel to the old part of the city went down this road.  You can see the Minster (Cathedral) in the distance.

and then “home” in the evening.

Approaching one of the gates to the old city of York.

Approaching one of the gates to the old city of York.

Entering the old city, which was founded in AD 71 by the Romans (or more likely, by them on top of a village already there).

Entering the old city at Petersgate, which was founded in AD 71 by the Romans (or more likely, by them on top of a village already there).

Recently learned a fun saying:  The difference between an American and a Brit?  The Brit thinks 100 miles is a long way to travel.  The American thinks 100 years is a long time.  TOO true!

Just a short way down the street into town I found a stitchery shop with a quilt in the window commemorating the recent "stage" of the Tour de France that had come through in July.

Just a short way down the street into town I found a stitchery shop with a quilt in the window commemorating the recent “stage” of the Tour de France that had come through in July.

One of the blocks from the Tour de France stitchery quilt.

One of the blocks from the Tour de France stitchery quilt.

Another of the blocks from the Tour de France stitchery quilt.

Another of the blocks from the Tour de France stitchery quilt.

It was so much fun to meet Hanneke!  We have known each other for years through the QuiltArt list and more recently Facebook.  We met her daughter and husband for lunch, where they urged Eli and me to have dessert, so we decided to try Sticky Toffee Pudding.  In England, a pudding isn’t the same as the US custard-ish dessert.  Instead, it is a dessert, a sort of moist cake.  OH MY.  I recently ordered the dates and Black Treacle (sort of like molasses but without the bitter edge to it) needed for the cake and made it.  EVERYONE loved it!  YUM!  Good thing, as the recipe makes 7-8 servings, each (literally) about 800 calories.  This way if everyone eats it, I won’t eat all of it and weigh 800 pounds.  THANK YOU Hanneke and family for coming down to York for lunch!

Wandering about the pedestrian zone of old York.  This city is absolutely stunning, picturesque, loaded with history, and not a hustle-bustle kind of frenetic place but one where you can walk, savor, enjoy.

Wandering about the pedestrian zone of old York. This city is absolutely stunning, picturesque, loaded with history, and not a hustle-bustle kind of frenetic place but one where you can walk, savor, enjoy.

Eli got up late morning and made his way into town.  On the way, he passed the York Museum.  Outside was a stand with wild birds:  hawks and owls.  So I promised after lunch we could go see them.  The owls ended up being one of the highlights of the trip for Eli.

If you paid a modest sum to help support the wildlife and rehab group, you could hold the owls.  This one is an Asian Wood Owl.

If you paid a modest sum to help support the wildlife and rehab group, you could hold the owls. This one is an Asian Wood Owl.  Did you see that, a HAPPY teen.  Yes, methinks working with animals is a good future for him!

The owl is getting acquainted with Eli (wearing a gauntlet), his handler helping.

The owl is getting acquainted with Eli (wearing a gauntlet), his handler helping.

Petting the owl.  SO soft!

Petting the owl. SO soft!

There were many hawks and owls, about 8 total.  I must’ve taken 100+ photos–resource imagery.

A little owl.

A little owl.

Barn owl.

Barn owl.

LOOK at those stunning feathers on the barn owl!

LOOK at those stunning feathers on the barn owl!

Great horned owl.

Great horned owl. I realized later that I can spot myself reflected in his eye…I’m just to the left of the sky, holding up the camera!

That Asian owl.  Glorious!

That Asian owl. Glorious!

Then we went to the York Museum.  There is a place called Jorvik that is described by some guide books as a bucket list place for Brits to visit, by others as “Disney version of Viking  York.”  It looks to be a great interactive, history-based place for families.  We opted for the greater range of real artifacts at the Museum.

This funerary urn is of an African woman buried in York around 300 AD, part of the Roman compound.   WOW!

This  urn is of an African Style said to have been introduced by Emperor Septimius Severus circa 300 AD; this may resemble his wife. WOW!

Not the best photo, but actual leather shoes from Vikings, circa 1000 AD.

Not the best photo, but actual leather shoes from Vikings, circa 1000 AD.

Embroidered woman's cap, early medieval era.

Embroidered woman’s cap, 16th century.

And LOOKIT these massive antlers!

And LOOKIT these massive antlers!  Horns of a Gian Red Deer, which went extinct about 7000 years ago.

Standing underneath the horns, looking up.

Standing underneath the horns, looking up.  They are probably 10 feet wide?

Nose piece from the York Helmet, an Anglian warriors helmet circa 1000 AD.

Nose piece from the York Helmet, an Anglian warriors helmet circa 1000 AD.  I love the design work.  Probably an inch wide.

The Middenham Jewel.

The Middleham Jewel. Described as “the finest piece of medieval fold-working ever found in England” discovered near Middleham Castle, dates to 1450-1500 AD.

What a day! My only frustration is that I didn’t take the time to sketch then (can you imagine a teen waiting an hour for mom to sketch?  I couldn’t either.)  And I haven’t made time since I got back, either…..I MUST SKETCH!  So much esign inspiration!

We trekked back to the Hostel, had a remarkably good dinner there and I had another Pimm’s.    The next day, Anna!  Another internet friend, another day in the old city.

Daffodils and tulips, oh my!

October 31st, 2014

Well… the garden sure doesn’t LOOK like it has had work done.  As a matter of fact, it looks like we’ve done nothing.  But there are 86 tulip bulbs and 300 daffodil bulbs in the ground!

Planting daffodil bulbs on our "meadow" (i.e. a place we don't mow).  I told Eli, Paul, Joshua and Ashley they looked like a road crew:  standing around looking at a hole, holding tools, one maybe working....

Planting daffodil bulbs on our “meadow” (i.e. a place we don’t mow). I told Eli, Paul, Joshua and Ashley they looked like a road crew: standing around looking at a hole, holding tools, one maybe working….

On Saturday I started in on planting the tulip bulbs near the house.  All the bulbs in fact are fragrant.  I picked Angelique, Tacoma and another variety that is a pale yellow peony style (12 of each) and in landscape (ie smaller, less expensive) 50 (!!!) Orange Princess, this incredible orange with pink and green stripes.  I figure I can get some help deterring the deer from walking Widgeon nearby.  Ahem.

That comment galvanized them (Laughing here!)--they were a huge help.  With my arthritis in my wrists and hands it would have taken me forever rather than 90 minutes to plant 260 bulbs!  THANK YOU family dears!

That comment galvanized them (Laughing here!)–they were a huge help. With my arthritis in my wrists and hands it would have taken me forever rather than 90 minutes to plant 260 bulbs! THANK YOU family dears!

Then Joshua and Ashley came over and we had a belated b-day celebration for me (we had to wait for the bulbs to arrive) and planted daffodil bulbs.  Joshua, Paul and Eli dug about 17 holes; Ashley and I planted.   Then, Joshua fixed an awesome mac and cheese with about six kinds of cheese, oven-roasted grape tomatoes, fresh basil, bacon….can you say heavenly?  Finally, I had fixed sticky toffee pudding, which is this delectable English cake-like dessert with sauce, served with vanilla ice cream.  SLURP.  A lovely family day.

Now every spring when I look out on our hill and see the bulbs, I will remember this day.  Of course, the bulbs are on about 1/9 of the meadow, so I’m thinking we may need to make this an annual event for several years.  I’ve always dreamed of having an entire field of daffs–how happy can a garden get, to be filled with daffodils?

Eli brought Widgeon out, so I decided to get down on the ground and take a photo from pug's-eye-level of him and the view.  Except he immediate galumphed over to me....

Eli brought Widgeon out, so I decided to get down on the ground and take a photo from pug’s-eye-level of him and the view. Except he immediately galumphed over to me….

and this is the shot I ended up with!

A happy, wild-eyed pug ready to smooch his mama (that would be me)

A happy, wild-eyed pug ready to smooch his mama (that would be me)

Then today I planted the last of the daffodil bulbs, 25 for near the deck/entry, and transplanted a peony.  We tried to kill a baptisia plant near the peony  so that we could SEE the peony and deal with the VW-Beetle-sized baptisia shrub and failed spectacularly, so I’ve decided if you can’t conquer it, move the peony!

Widgeon looking regal and dignified.  Well, he thinks so.  Then we all crack up because he is so funny!

Widgeon looking regal and dignified. Well, he thinks so. Then we all crack up because he is so funny! Can you say LOVE THE PUG!

Now to enjoy the winter blizzards and blinding beauty of snow, then endure mud season, and finally wait for spring to spring and see how the bulbs look and smell.  Joshua and Ashley will be receiving a fragrant bouquet (provided they bloom!).  And I can tell you if those Orange Princess tulips are as glorious as they looked in the photo, there WILL be dyeing of fabric and a quilt of ginormous tulips!  I promise I’ll share garden photos in spring!

The Purple Moose Quilt Retreat

October 29th, 2014
At the Snowy Owl Inn, Waterville Valley, NH, in the heart of the White Mountains at peak leaf season

At the Snowy Owl Inn, Waterville Valley, NH, in the heart of the White Mountains at peak leaf season

Most quilt teaching jobs are in the standard Grange or church basement, a basic rectangular box, often in a basement.  You reach it by going to an airport (ugh), flying to another airport (ugh), connecting to a third (or heaven forefend a fourth) airport.  Frequently with long layovers in loud seating areas with expensive coffee and stale food.   The quilters are always fun, but the getting there, not so much.  This time was GLORIOUSLY different!   I drove 5 hours from my home in Maine to the White Mountains in NH where Terri Sontra, of Purple Moose Designs, held her first (hopefully annual and then semi-annual) retreat.  Terri has been looking for the right venue for several years and finally found the Snowy Owl Inn nestled in the heart of the mountains.

The Snowy Owl Inn, Waterville Valley, NH

The Snowy Owl Inn, Waterville Valley, NH

I can tell you right now, I want to go back as a participant and just sew and play at a retreat–been far too long since I’ve been on one, Terri wants to do things RIGHT, the lodge owners were incredibly wonderful…well, anyone wanna come play?

Balinese Garden table runner (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Balinese Garden table runner (c) Sarah Ann Smith  (Pattern available here)

Terri selected my Balinese Garden pattern for the Saturday teaching portion of the retreat.  We all arrived Friday afternoon in time for dinner.  Class, which was optional for the participants, was Saturday, but pretty much everyone ended up doing a bit of something I was teaching–FUN!  Saturday evening Alison Bolt came  and gave a humorous talk.  Sunday was more sewing–Terri invited me to stay the weekend (which happened to be the long holiday weekend AND peak color in New England for the leaf-peepers) but I needed to return home (fooey!), then folks went home Monday.  Like I said, I wanna come back as the not-teacher, too!  Several of the ladies went for walks in the woods nearby, and one took a free guided hour-long hike Sunday morning (put on by the town/center).

The students did fabulous work with my pattern–I love it when folks cut loose!  So I’ll salt in photos of what they did throughout this post.

Love the soft, spring colors in this.

Love the soft, spring colors in this.

What’s awesome is how she did it…

Ann wasn't feeling well and packed in a hurry to head to the retreat after work.  She tossed in this multicolored batik ad made all her leaves and flowers from it!

Ann wasn’t feeling well and packed in a hurry to head to the retreat after work. She tossed in this multicolored batik and made all her leaves and flowers from it!  That’s called making your fabric work for you!

Terri had some laudable (and achieved) goals for the retreat:  beautiful location, reasonable lodging fees, good and plentiful food on site (the Inn doesn’t normally run a restaurant full time, but they fixed meals for us and we snarfed), a FULL table per person, and the lighting in the room was REALLY good–no one needed to bring the usual array of extra lamps.  We had participants from Massachusetts, Maine, NH and Vermont.

As you can see, we had lots of room.  Terri had her booth stuff (she vends at quilt shows) set up at the entry with all sorts of useful goodies (including a great selection of needles and batiks, yes I bought some!).  I had the other end for my samples etc.  Each student had an entire table to use, and there were elevated cutting stations and ironing boards in the center.

As you can see, we had lots of room. Terri had her booth stuff (she vends at quilt shows) set up at the entry with all sorts of useful goodies (including a great selection of needles and batiks, yes I bought some!). I had the other end for my samples etc. Each student had an entire table to use, and there were elevated cutting stations and ironing boards in the center.  And in the lower left, the table with the drawings/prizes.  The swag bags for participants were to die for wonderful, too!  Even Alison (the lecture) and I got our own name tags and mugs!  Thank you, Terri!

Didn't this table runner turn out amazing?  When class broke for dinner on Saturday, she had maybe three flowers put together.  Came in the next morning and she had this DONE plus (see next photo)

Didn’t this table runner turn out amazing? When class broke for dinner on Saturday, she had maybe three flowers put together. Came in the next morning and she had this DONE plus (see next photo).   She even got some sleep, but she stayed up WELL past my bedtime!

She had these extra leaves to practice on as I suggested, since you play with thread colors and stitches on your machine  With a "spare to practice" you don't have to pick stuff out!

She had these extra leaves to practice on as I suggested, since you play with thread colors and stitches on your machine With a “spare to practice” you don’t have to pick stuff out!

Here's

Here’s a cheerful sample.  What I love is seeing students take fabrics I’d never think to use and come up with something they love!  Very cottage-y!

Love her blues.  Starr worked on several projects on Saturday, so glad she got so much done.

Love her blues. Starr worked on several projects on Saturday, so glad she got so much done.

The female half of the owners got to take the class, and I'm so annoyed I didn't get a photo of the finished top--I thought I had.  It turned out GREAT!

The female half of the Snowy Owl Inn owners got to take the class, and I’m so annoyed I didn’t get a photo of the finished top–I thought I had. It turned out GREAT!  Here it is in progress.

I love for how this student brought fabric that echoes my pattern and is using my process to enhance the fabric.

I love for how this student brought fabric that echoes my pattern and is using my process to enhance the fabric.  She is relatively new to sewing, but has a great eye and good design sense.

This student has a quilt/bedspread she made and wants to make a wall hanging to go in the bedroom.  She brought the fabric used in the quilt, so we figured out how to use some of that fabric in the top.

This student has a quilt/bedspread she made and wants to make a wall hanging to go in the bedroom. She brought the fabric used in the quilt, so we figured out how to use some of that fabric in the top.

She brought out the fabric to show her neighbor-table-mate, and we both said  BORDERS!  Make it bigger, use it as a border.  Isn't this FAN-flippin'-TASTIC?!!!!  I so want pics when it is quilted.  She bought some gold thread to use. Swoon!

She brought out the fabric to show her neighbor-table-mate, and we both said BORDERS! Make it bigger, use it as a border. Isn’t this FAN-flippin’-TASTIC?!!!! I so want pics when it is quilted. She bought some gold thread to use. Swoon!

Next year, Terri has Ami Simms booked.   I may not do the project/class, but I want to go and laugh!  If Eli’s cross-country season runs the same, I could leave after the meet on Friday, be in NH by bedtime, and spend the weekend…..hmmmmm……..

Anyway, if you are looking for a great getaway retreat, I can say hands-down Terri’s was great.  Now, can I really escape for a play weekend?  Since I began teaching a decade ago (a DECADE?  Already?!!!!!????) I haven’t gone away to play at quilting, feeling that I am gone enough.  But I’m taking next year off of teaching to be home for Eli’s senior year and sports.  So…..if I wait until after that week’s meet is over…….Terri, when do you start taking deposits?

 

 

Quilt Festival Houston 2014: where to find me and my work

October 26th, 2014

It’s that wonderful time of the year again, Festival!  When you say “Festival” to a dedicated quilter, they know there is only ONE Festival that counts, the Big One In Houston.  Same thing–if you say Houston, we all know what that means–FUN, Friends, Quilts, all under one enormous roof.   I’m teaching again this year and will have four quilts in the exhibit area, plus two small pieces in a booth.  Read on!

Learn to make the painted fabrics in this project in my mini-Whimsy class at IQF-International Quilt Festival Fall 2014.

Learn to make the painted fabrics in this project in my mini-Whimsy class at IQF-International Quilt Festival Fall 2014.  See Thursday and Friday October 30 and 31.

Sunday, Oct. 26:  Travel from Maine to Texas.  Provided all goes well, I will not only have time to check in to the Teachers’ Room, find my shipped items and get ready for my first class on Monday, I’ll be able to get to the International Quilt Market show (already have my credentials!) to visit some friends who will be there only for Market.

Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul, in the 500 Traditional Quilts exhibit. (c) Sarah Ann Smith.

Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul, in the 500 Traditional Quilts exhibit. (c) Sarah Ann Smith.

Monday, Oct. 27:  I’m teaching Let’s Machine Quilt, my intro to Machine Quilting class.  Class runs from 9-5, with a two hour lunch break which I plan to spend on the show floor making more contacts at market.  When online registration closed, I think there were a couple spots left in this class.  If you’re interested, sign up at registration at Market.

Insalata, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014.  First major presentation in public at lecture, Tuesday, How Did She Do That?

Insalata, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014. First major presentation in public at lecture, Tuesday, How Did She Do That?

Tuesday, Oct. 28:  I’ll be giving my lecture, How Did She Do That?  It is a virtual trunk show of what I do and how I do it, supplemented with at least half a dozen real live quilts.   These lectures are in HUGE rooms so there is always room for more people.  I’m hoping to attend the lecture before me at 10.  Then at noon, I’ll be going to the luncheon and lecture (as will be many of the folks in my lecture).  Tuesday is the day the Market-only booths pack up and depart and the Festival-only booths arrive and begin setting up.  So I figure either the lecture will be full or empty (with folks having chosen to go off into the city or busy with booth set-up/take-down).  DO come–it’s so much more fun to talk to a room with people in it!

Haleakala Sunrise, (c) 2004 Sarah Ann Smith.  In the 500 Traditional Quilts exhibit.

Haleakala Sunrise, (c) 2004 Sarah Ann Smith. In the 500 Traditional Quilts exhibit.

Wednesday, Oct. 29:  Teaching Birch Pond Seasons, my third year in a row for this intro to art quilting and fused collage.  This is a no-sewing class and I’m thrilled to report it filled during online enrollment!  It’s my third year in a row teaching this class at Houston–so glad it works well for so many.  I encourage students to do their own thing–no copy-the-teacher stuff in my classes!

And some art cloth--this is SO not my typical, but I could see playing with surface design, a lot, to make more fabrics to use in my more typical style.  I wanted to have something totally "not me" though so that students get to try both representational and not!

And some art cloth–this is SO not my typical, but I could see playing with surface design, a lot, to make more fabrics to use in my more typical style. I wanted to have something totally “not me” though so that students get to try both representational and not!

Thursday, Oct. 30:  One of six presenters at Machine Quilting Forum (sold out) from 9-Noon.   Attending the lecture and teacher appreciation luncheon Noon to 2.  From 5-6 I will be teaching a mini-Whimsy Class at the Fiber on a Whim Booth, #144.  For more info, see  here and  here and here   There is no advance sign up–the first 8 people in line get in.  All supplies are provided by me.

In progress shot from The Nest, (c) 2014 Sarah Ann Smith.

In progress shot from The Nest, (c) 2014 Sarah Ann Smith, part of Sarah’s Whimsy Class.

Friday, Oct. 31:  From 11-Noon I’ll be teaching my mini-Whimsy Class (see Oct. 30 info and links).  Then from 5:30 to 7, I’ll be “on duty” in the Inspired by the Beatles exhibit.  In the evening, I’ll be enjoying diner the company of the marvelous artists in the Dinner@8 group.

Two of Us (c) 2013 Sarah Ann Smith.  Inspired by the Beatles challenge and exhibit.

Two of Us (c) 2013 Sarah Ann Smith. Inspired by the Beatles challenge and exhibit.

Saturday, Nov. 1:  almost first thing, I’ll be in the Machine Quilting Unlimited booth for an interview (who me?)!  I’ve written for them quite a bit back in 2008-9 and over the past 16 months.  This is one of the best magazines out there, especially if you love machine quilting, whether traditional, contemporary, modern, art….it’s a keeper!   Then I’m officially “OFF DUTY” and get to race around and see everything and everyone.

I’ve shared photos of my works on display throughout this post, but here they are in a list:

500 Traditional Quilts exhibit:

  • Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul
  • Haleakala Sunrise

Dinner@8 Reflections exhibit:

  • Eli, Cross-Country 2013

Inspired by the Beatles exhibit:

  • Two of Us (blogpost here)

Fiber on a Whim booth #144

  • The Nest
  • White-Gray-Black-Red-Gold artcloth

See you in HOUSTON!  WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!

 

 

Dog walkies and Autumn rains

October 25th, 2014
When I go on longer dog walkies, we go to the end of the driveway, turn left and head either to this duck pond (no ducks at this moment) or to the corner where the blueberry field is.

When I go on longer dog walkies, we go to the end of the driveway, turn left and head either to this duck pond (no ducks at this moment) or to the corner where the blueberry field is.

Just a quick post to share yesterday afternoon’s dog walkies.  I think many of you on the other end of my ether live in cities, and don’t know how many of you get to hear things like this little video, so thought I’d share the glorious sound of life in Maine when it is soggy.  Here’s the little video, followed by a couple more photos.  I think I need image stabilization in my phone…not as crisp as I’d like in terms of photos.  There is a culvert under the road which you can see in the lower right.  When I pan to the left and zoom, you can see the blueberry barrens at the end of this part of the road (at the corner).

IMG 0032 2 from Sarah Ann Smith on Vimeo.

I head to Houston well before dawn–as a matter of fact I may be taking off as the sun rises!  Will try to Facebook from Houston, and have several posts scheduled to publish while I’m away.  Have fun everyone, and hope to see some of you at International Quilt Festival Houston 2014, the 40th anniversary.

 

My usual view on dog walkies....good thing I love the curled tail!

My usual view on dog walkies….good thing I love the curled tail!

More of the duck pond

More of the duck pond.  Right click for larger view.