Monday, October 20, 2008

Scarecrow Masquerade!

As some of you may know, I work part time for Wheeler Farm, a working historic farm owned by Salt Lake County. It is one block from my house, and I like to pretend it's mine. My backyard. My Disneyland. It's just about my favorite place on earth.

Every year for three Saturdays in October, we hold our Scarecrow Masquerade. Although the farm is open year-round from dawn to dusk, the fall season and farm events are always favorites for crowds, especially families with young children.

Here are some pictures of our pumpkin patch. The vegetation has been cleared away and only the pumpkins are left so that kids can go out and pick whichever one they want. The corn stalks were saved for adult crafting (picture later in post).

One of the attractions to the farm this fall, besides the pumpkins, is the new baby piglets. Momma had 13 piglets originally, but (and this is not uncommon in nature), laid on and smothered three of them not long after birth (unaware she was doing so).

There are 10 piglets now, and they're about two weeks old. You can't see all of them in these pictures. Aren't they cute???

Below is the Activity Barn (built only about 20 years ago) that houses the Farm office. It's also used for, well, Activities, such as wedding receptions, boutiques, and other groups that we rent out to.There are several barns on the property. One of them is the Machinery Barn, where we house a collection of antique farm machinery dating back over 125 years. This particular tractor is outside the barn and is a favorite photo op for kids.

Part of the Scarecrow Masquerade is making scarecrows. Families are urged to bring a shirt, pants and pillowcase (for the head) and we provide the straw stuffing and stick cross to build their scarecrow on.

Some scarecrows in process...

Here is a scarecrow family (note mother and baby on the right) that some of the farm workers made in early October:

Let's go for a wagon ride!! This is how we give tours of the 75-acre farm.

Visiting the chicken coops. During Summer Camp, the kids get to help the farmers gather eggs. And every evening (year-round) kids and adults can come and help milk the cows.

We have lots of Canadian geese on the farm, in addition to the American varieties and ducks. For some reason, the Canadian geese like to hang out sometimes with the cows in the pasture.

And here are those harvested corn stalks, stacked up neatly in a corner of the machinery barn. During the Scarecrow Masquerade, parents could come in here and make nice outdoor decorations (for porches or whatever) of corn stalks, Indian corn and cattails.

There are so many things I haven't gotten pictures of on the farm this fall. Like the changing colors..... will be taking more pictures this week. Enjoy your Autumn!!

More Autumn CQ Pillow Details

I finally finished - for REAL this time - my autumn CQ pillow. Because it's being entered into a contest, I won't be publishing a full picture of it until November. But in the meantime, I thought I'd share some of my favorite details.

Mr. Squirrel's "nuts" are just some sort of wooden bead, but his tail is real mink!!

My dear friend Gerry sent me some red fabric with shirred "puffs" that reminded me of.... a dahlia! So, I decided to make a dahlia and add it to this piece. All I did was stuff one of the puffs with a tiny bit of fiberfill, cut out puffs in roughly the shape of a circle around it, and stitched it down.

I was pleased with how this wheat turned out.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Deacon Says Goodbye

Tonight we went out to dinner with Bruce's daughter Emily, her husband Chad and our grandson Deacon, who turns 7 months old on October 18. Chad is in the Air Force, and has been stationed at the AF base in Rapid City, South Dakota. They are leaving on Saturday.

We know this will be our last time to see them as easily as we have these past months, and the thought of missing out on Deacon's daily discoveries and developments is heart-wrenching. I'm sure many of you have been in this same situation, and it just isn't easy.

Chad, Emily & Deacon. They'll be living on base in Rapid City.

Bruce (Grandpa) and I with Deacon. He's a very happy boy!

Deacon and Grandpa Bruce in Grandpa's "La-BOR-a-tory"...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wool Crazy Quilt

About six years ago I made a wool crazy quilt top. First I purchased wool coats and jackets at thrift stores in shades of grays and blues. Then I washed them, felting them in the process. I pieced 30 quilt squares of 11" each. Rather than using the flip-n-sew method to join the pieces to the muslin backing, I just butted them up against one another and sewed them together with the stitch I was using to decorate the seam.

I chose to stick to bright colors for the seams, and simple stitches. No motifs were planned, although I did incorporate embroidery that was featured on one wool coat, cutting it up to make use of it in most of the 30 squares. The original intent was to make this into a queen sized throw for a guest bed. However, as it turned out, when Bruce and I married and bought our house, we got rid of the extra queen sized bed and got a day bed for the guest room. And the color blue is rarely welcomed in my decorating schemes these days, so it sits as a nearly-finished top.

The sashing is a 100% wool hand-woven piece that I bought at an estate sale. It still had the Scottish tag on it and they had the 2-yard piece priced for $5. Who could resist? I had to piece the sashing in places to make it work, but it fit. The blocks are set 5 x 6. However, I was not smart enough to stabilize or interface it first, so there's a great weight contrast between the sashing and the squares. It's set straight, but the you can see how the different weights distort it.

I'm thinking that I will remove the sashing altogether and just piece the 30 squares together and back it with flannel (a black and blue buffalo check I've already purchased) and tie it. It is so heavy and warm as it is, that it seems ridiculous to put the batting between the front and the backing. But it might need it for stabilizing; I'll just have to see.

So, here are some (poor) pictures. The above picture (in fact most of them) are draped over a chair.... I don't have anyone to hold up the quilt for me, and there's no place big enough in my house to spread it out to show the entire thing. These pictures, then, are just a sampling of some of the blocks.....After the staid blues and grays, it was really fun to work with bright-colored threads!

One thing I really like about piecing with wool is that you can cut your pieces in any shape you want and just butt one up next to it and stitch. I played with some curves, as you can see in the square below. If I did one now, however, I think I'd REALLY try to go for some really unusual curves and shapes and pieces!

It was a good learning experience for me at the time, but I'm beginning to get the itch to try another one. I know my piecing would be better, and I'd pick colors that appeal to me more. Hmmmm..... I think I could use a good wool lap quilt since winter is coming.......

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Couple Fall-ish Things to Share

I've been busy working on an autumn-themed piece that will be made into a pillow. More accurately, it HAS been made into a pillow, but now I'm re-working ("tweaking") some of the motifs and arrangements.

So in the interest of providing everyone with their Recommended Daily Allowance of Eye Candy (LOL), I'll just post pictures of a couple areas that will remain pretty much the same
(rather than pictures of the entire piece, which has been reverted to "work in process").

This pumpkin was made by felting wool roving on a background of gold dupioni silk. The wool fibers were orange and deep gold. The stem was felted with a couple shades of green. I used my Embellisher, which I've been having some fun with lately. The leaves were given to me by my friend Janet as a gracious gift when we attended the Crazy Quilting International retreat in Denver last month. The little curled "vine" is florist wire that was wound around a needle. I think I may still add a bit of a stitched vine in and around the leaves....

This is the top part of the pillow. I wanted to show one of my favorite seam treatments, which is extending the leaf print fabric with silk ribbon embroidery. I've done this before, in fact, I used this exact fabric and technique in the quilt block I submitted to Quilting Arts Magazine. It won a spot for the month of November in the QA 2002 Calendar.

The sequin flowers (in brown) along the curved lace on the left were cut from an expensive trim I purchased at Allyn's, a wonderful dress shop in Denver (and CQ Heaven) last month. My spider web on the left is uninhabited. I love to do the webs, but am not overly crazy about spiders., real or stitched. Besides, how often have you marveled at a web and NOT seen any spider in residence? (A lot, I bet. I rest my case). Besides, doesn't the CQ legend refer to spiderwebs and not spiders????

You can disregard the rest of the picture! Those flowers underneath are being rearranged and added to a bit; more leaves and a wonderful experimental flower that I'll share a bit later.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Some Autumn Decorations

Autumn is my favorite season - he change in the air, the angle of the sun. I love crisp evenings with the smell of woodsmoke, the leaves changing colors, and the nesting instinct that seems to drive the animals and US to begin laying-in for winter. But I begin celebrations in the month of September by whipping out autumn-themed decorations and linens. I snapped a few pictures a couple weeks ago as I decorated....

This stitchery sits out year-round. It was done by my friend Terri. My hubby Bruce and her hubby Mike (and my friend Diane's husband Rob) are all in a folk trio named The Muddy Gutter Boys. They've been together since high school - over 40 years. They play regularly for church groups, retirement homes, parties, local events, etc. Rob is represented by the bass, which he plays; Mike is the banjo, and Bruce (my DH) is the guitar.

The autumn quilt from a couple posts ago hangs above this fragrant bowl of autumn potpourri.

This is part of our vitrine (vintage china cabinet) and the wall to the right. The angle of this photo makes everything look spaced out wierd, but it's really not...

This vintage sideboard matches the vitrine. This is the small sideboard (my ex-husband got the large one and we sold the formal dining set that matched). It's in our entryway. The set is 1860's, from the Dutch lowlands.

Closer shot of sideboard top. The candles go bye-bye after Halloween and are replaced with Thanksgiving-themed decorations. Isn't the embroidered runner nice? Next up is a closer shot of that. It was made by my great grandmother and I have a whole set that I put out every fall.

In a day or two I'll post pictures of a piece of CQ that I just finished. It was an autumn block that I made into a cushion with materials provided by Evening Star Designs. They just had a Harvest Challenge contest, and provided some fabrics, threads, trim and beads (plus you could add your own things). I LOVE how my cushion turned out. Today, October 6, was the deadline to get our entries in. I emailed all my pictures off this morning as required, and now we just wait until they make their decisions. Win or lose, I had a ball with this project..... pictures in a couple days.