Friday, July 14, 2017

And now a tale of Three Quilts

I have a tendency to iterate quilts.

I make a quilt. And then I make it again, tweaking it to improve the end result or just changing it up to satisfy my curiosity. Since I started quilting 25 years ago, I've made more than 40 quilts and at least 15 of those have been repeats.

It's rare I like the first iteration of a quilt better than the subsequent ones. But sometimes it happens, as was the case with this one.

The last few years I've focused on modern quilting. The top photo was the first of three quilts I made from this pattern. I can't really put my finger on the reason it's my favorite. It might be because it's all flannel, and is super soft. But I really like the colors and it's big --  perhaps 6 feet by 4.5 feet. My quilting trademark is that every one I make has a mistake quirk -- a block turned the wrong way, a fabric inside out or a mis-sized block. If you look carefully here you will find it. I've long since stopped being bothered by this -- it's part of the charm of a handmade item.

After this beauty was complete I swore I wasn't going to make it again. But then came a surprise package in the mail from sweet Hayley in London. This girl knows my obsession with Liberty of London fabrics! The Tana Lawn print she sent me was so gorgeous that I actually bought a blouse in the same fabric when I went back to London this spring. The poppy colored flowers on an off-white background are so happy! In fact, I think I might have to wear that blouse today. I only had a meter so I resized the pattern (by hand mind you, a significant feat for someone with my math skills) and used every last bit of the fabric. If you love Liberty, too, a great U.S. source of it is, conveniently located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Yes, I have a personal relationship with the shop owner and if you're looking for a discontinued Liberty print, the chances are decent that I have some of it in my personal stash.

While I do like V2, I think the pattern better lends itself to multiple fabrics and colors.

Again, I thought I was done with this pattern. I hoped I was done. But then Eldest Daughter had asked me to make her a modern, neutral quilt to take to school. I went to town one more time, in shades of grey, with one pink block representing her. Of course I didn't finish this quilt until this summer, in time for her second year of of college. But I really like it. And she does, too, which was the goal. I can picture her curled up underneath it in bed at school, snow falling, watching Netflix studying. I backed and bound it in grey polka dot fabric, which is a departure from my usual practice of binding a quilt not to compete with the modern design.

Really and truly, I am not making a fourth quilt in this pattern. In fact, I've just put the pattern in the outside recycling bin to be sure.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Tale of Three Beaches

My family seems to have taken a hiatus from sightseeing-style vacations. Instead, our last several trips have been more relaxed. The fact that we now have three teenaged daughters, each with her own strong opinion about what she would like and not like to do, seems to be a contributing factor. I have to admit I'm enjoying this stage.

A year ago we vacationed on St. Simons Island, off the coast of Georgia. We spent our days trying to eat our weight in peaches and BBQ, boogie boarding in the warm coastal waters just outside our back door, watching the spectacular rainstorms, hunting for sea turtle nests, and biking into town for ice cream.

This being the southeastern US in July, we had to physically work at breathing. That's how thick the air was. It was like Hawaii without the floral fragrance. Gradually we got used to it but never the humidity. We were always hot and sticky, and slightly uncomfortable. Still, I loved it.

The beach home was easily the nicest home we have ever rented. It was tastefully ongepotchket -- if there is such a thing as tasteful ongepotchket. Our time there felt like were were staying in a friend's home, a friend with an enormous house on three levels with just a pool and a lawn between us and the ocean. It had all those details you'd put in your vacation home if money were no object -- a separate guest house above the garage, four HVAC systems, washers and dryers on each floor that had bedrooms, a poolside cabana, a bucket on a pulley system to move cold drinks from the second floor kitchen to the ground floor pool, iPad controlled music, and on and on. I loved that house so much that I came home and sketched the layout so that if I get the chance to build an ocean or lakefront home, I can replicate it.

Fast forward to last week, where we visited Capitola-by-the-Sea, an easy 90 minute drive south of Danville. Capitola is near Santa Cruz and there we stayed walking distance from both Capitola Beach and New Brighton Beach. The village reminded me of St. Simons Island with its requisite ice cream, t-shirt and home decor shops. But the water was much colder and the beach more crowded. We went to Santa Cruz one evening and took a short bike ride with friends to the lighthouse and Natural Bridges Beach.

This weekend we're in Bolinas, 15 miles north of San Francisco as the crow flies. Marin County has some of the country's most expensive real estate. Location, location, location and all. The majority of the cars were of two types: new Audis or old Subarus, both sporting surfboard racks.

Bolinas is a hidden gem and the hippie dippie locals like it that way. In fact, there are no signs leading from Highway 1 to Bolinas. You're either in the know or using GPS. There's one restaurant, one bar, the post office, three art galleries, a general store, and two surf shops. In the surf shops are the tiniest wetsuits I have ever seen, wetsuits suitable for toddlers. I kid you not. (Bad pun.) We're staying in a cottage next to one of the art galleries. It's 500 steps from our front door to the beach. While Capitola was cute in a stereotypical way, this area is mindblowing for its natural beauty. The unmarked road here is lined with redwood and cypress trees, and the Bolinas Lagoon sits on one side of the town while the ocean is on the other. The colors shift from beige to grey to blue to the reds and oranges associated with sunset. Shoes are optional. Bras are optional. Haircuts and hair color are optional, for both sexes. Clothing is optional for kids on the beach. Wet suits appear to be de rigueur, though, as that water is cold!

Three beach towns on two coasts. Three very different experiences. The next beaches on our list are Meeks Bay, Kaanapali, and Manzanita.