Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn Report-Because I can't reveal the new fabric yet!

There have been some delicious changes in northern Illinois in the last few weeks. As you can see from the top photo, the soybean fields have turned to gold and the wild prairies are sprinkled with purple and golden yellow. The purple asters are especially plentiful. Being "Miss Contrast" I love the purple petals with the orange/yellow centers which glow in the evening autumn light.

The sedum have their fresh colors on display, too, adding more pink to the overall color scheme

The native sunflowers are quite dramatic now as their yellow petals drop and the pregnant seedpod begins to look like our favorite felted beads blowing in the wind. 

Greg has been planting Moonflower vines by the front door for several summers now and this season they have been taking their sweet time to blossom. They have spectacular twisted buds which anticipate the magnificent blossoms to come. They actually open in the night time and are so high on the vine that we can see them better from our second story bedroom. The large flat flower and skinny throat look like  platters balanced on a stick or a delicate stemmed goblet. 

You can see why we look forward to these dramatic blossoms! And to have them are the "end" of the season makes them even more precious.

Even as the flowers still bloom, the damp fall forest decay is following the traditional seasonal schedule. The variety of funky fungus shapes are amazing, especially after such a wet year.

These growths look like they were deliberately placed as lovely trunk ornaments or broaches.
I am forever overwhelmed by Mother Nature's imagination.

Here are a couple of critters that also appreciate the recent rain. This tiny turtle was hanging out by the garden faucet. If you look very closely, you will spy a tiny snail clinging to his back foot. He looks like a pine cone with legs.

These little frogs like to climb up windows, even very high ones. Many nights this summer we had one of these little guys on our bedroom window, stalking bugs that were attracted to our reading lights.

This long environmental report is due to the fact that my new line was delivered unexpectedly late on Sept. 10. Needless to say, I dived into it early the next day. Since then I have made four quilt tops and one back. Poor Greg only sees me when I get hungry and head up to the kitchen. But it is BEAUTIFUL and it is killing me to keep it a secret until Houston Market! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Quiet Before the Storm

Our Midwestern landscape has taken another step toward Autumn this week. Each day the corn and soybeans become more golden. Here is a peek at the field next to us... a sea of soybeans after last nights heavy rain. In a short while this will be dancing waves of yellow leaves.

I traditionally kept my August through October teaching schedule light because I usually get my new FreeSpirit fabrics in August. Once they hit my door step, they are my only focus in preparation for Houston Quilt Market at the end of October. But this year, even though I finished the designs ahead of schedule, there were more color corrections than usual and the strike-offs traveled between the factory and here four or five times. Now the fabrics may not arrive until the end of September! Yikes!

So, I have been taking advantage of this precious time to begin quilting my Illinois Album quilt. I have finally finished all the outline quilting, which is tedious but necessary, and am on to adding the details inside each element. This part of the process is much more entertaining.

I have been hibernating in the studio and enjoying this luxury. Besides the mosquitoes make it impossible to stay outside! It has been a long time since I have worked on a quilt this big and wrestling so much fabric through the sewing machine. But it feels great to get back to some personal work.

I am using some of the decorative stitches for the quilting, too. You can see how they add interest, rhythm and texture... the last layer of icing on the cake.

Yes, thousands of threads to bury! But what a joy to have the time to enjoy the process. 

The bumblebee is developing some personality, as his real life brothers are busy, busy busy in the garden outside the door. Perhaps I should have included mosquitoes in the composition, too, for they certainly have been the theme here this summer! Consequently, there has not been much weeding done.

But in spite of it all, wearing his mosquito net hat, long sleeves and pants tucked into his socks, Greg has done a marvelous job with the flowers and the kitchen garden in ten minute spurts.

This has been a wonderful year for tomatoes. Don't these look like jewels after the rain?

Personally, I don't think you can have too many fresh tomatoes. The kitchen counter is covered with the bounty of summer and every visitor goes home with a sack of home grown goodies.

Oh well, we'll work on the weeds next year. Another good excuse to head for the studio!