Monday, May 23, 2011

Why I Grow Roses

By Loris Nebbia
It happens every year. A friend comes to the door on the same yearly errand. Business finished, she turns to small talk. “Your roses have black spot.” She points to the bush burgeoning with pink buds, already fragrant with the scent of green apples and sweetness. “Oh, well,” I say, as I do every year, “that’s just the way it is in Maryland. And I haven’t had time to treat them. But I’ll get to it.”
“I wonder if they’re worth it. Look at that.” She shakes her head. I roll my eyes and murmur my good-byes and shut the door. I love my roses.
As well as a garden full of roses, my husband and I have been blessed with three sons. Our eldest son was a lovely baby—big brown eyes, a quick and ready grin. He had an eagerness to learn and a cheerfulness that was more dependable than the sun. His disposition for language was shown early. His father and I took him everywhere with us and he was no trouble; we couldn’t wait to see him in the morning, were thrilled with him; we delighted in him.
He was just the sort of older brother I’d hoped for my younger children...(Read more)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

More French Connections!

In my last blog, about the wonderful shop French Connections, I mentioned a tiny cap I made in the tradition of French boutis. It is for a newborn baby. 

The inspiration for this came from a wonderful trip to Paris, with my daughter, her friend Elizabeth and my friend JoAnn. 
Elizabeth and Valerie at the top of the Eiffel Tower
Here's how it happened.  Jo-Ann and I both had airline tickets credits. The girls were going to go on their school French trip, but it was cancelled... so we decided to go!
the girls seeing Notre Dame for the first time
In Paris, when the Internet was still fairly new, we took a risk and booked a hotel online. 
the street where our hotel was found
And though I'll write about the many zany and amazing things happened as a result of that risk, right now, I'll say that it was in a wonderful location - the Latin Quarter and from there we found our way around Paris and to a the Rue du Bac. 

Now, I have to tell you that I wanted to go the Rue du Bac, not because I knew that it was a charming street that hosted even more charming shops, but because when I was fourteen and repeatedly after that I read a book called Désirée by Annemarie Selinko. It tells the life story of Napoleon Bonapart's first love. In the heartbreaking section when Désirée discovers that Napoleon is breaking their engagement to marry the powerful Josephine, Désirée is staying at a home in the Rue du Bac. Yes, I'm a book nerd.

So I dragged my little traveling party to the Rue du Bac and what do you think we found? 
We found a small shop-- Le Rideau De Paris. 32 Rue Du Bac, Paris. 
To say that we were enchanted is to speak moderately. 
The fabrics of Provence-dazzling, the quilting in the bright, whole-cloth quilts-inspiring... and then there was the baby's tiny cap.

It stood in the window and the shop-keeper took it out for me. I held it in my hand and felt as if the world was pausing a minute so that I could appreciate the exquisite handmade treasure. Rows of tiny stitches held the slimmest cording. It was not frilly, but the most lovely, elegant baby item I'd ever seen. The shop keeper said that now only very old women were making these caps; the art was fading. So naturally the caps were "très cher" which I translated in my head to mean,"very dear," because I loved it so much.

looking into the shop window

I had no married children at the time, no grandchildren, but I decided to buy it. I was enchanted by it.
That's when I found out what "très cher" meant. The cap cost over three hundred dollars. 
So, I didn't buy it.

When we left the shop, we found a patisserie a few yards away that also offered afternoon tea. While we devoured the pastries, I sketched the cap. 

I carry a booklet and pencil for just such très cher emergencies

Years went by and many things happened. I remembered the cap and wanted to make it. I thought about the very old, (older now) women in Provence sitting in their lavender-scented, sun-drenched gardens stitching the little caps, while La Tramontane whirled around their frail ankles. I was très busy, too busy to sew much, so I researched the skills and instead wrote about it in my novel, Solomon's Puzzle. The quilt store owner, Laurie MacBride (who accomplishes many things I wish I did or could) made an entire line of such wonderful things. 

But eventually... I did set my hand to it and I made one.

From those sketches, I made a pattern, trial and error,with lots of error...

 and finally finished this little cap in time for my daughter's first baby:

I lined it in the (washed and bleached) thin, soft flannel we used to drape around things at her October wedding.  

Now I'm making a little jacket and more caps.  They take a long time to make. But aren't they beautiful?  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

French Connections

If you love French fabric and style, this is the shop for you. I found it at the Lancaster Quilt Show. (Read more...)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Remember Those Blue Birds?

During the Great Blizzard of 2010, a favorite tree fell and the day after it had fallen, we were visited by a flock of blue birds:

This spring, they've come back

and built a nest in our little bluebird house!

They've made it their home!

We're watching and waiting.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Quilt That Began Long Ago

If you read the first blog about Andrea's birthday this year, you know that I mentioned a certain pink fabric I bought long ago thinking of the little girl they'd one day have.  So sometime along the way, I found a pack of what's called, in the quilting world, charm squares. These are five inch squares of cotton quilting fabric and in this case they were all designed to go together.  For some reason, their brightness and style made me think of Joe and Andrea and... well, you know who.
   So I bought them and made this quilt using a pattern that my friends Jo-Ann and Ellen invented.
You don't have to use 5" squares and they don't have to be purchased in a pack. But you group the squares whatever size you choose) in sets of four as you see below. (The orange stickies on the top row tell me where they go in the order of the rows).

Once the four squares are sewn together, border the newly formed bigger square:

note the pink dot fabric...!

I chose a variety of colors for the borders to achieve the look I wanted.

Arrange the blocks in a pleasing order, three blocks x four blocks. Sew the rows together, then sew the rows to each other. Press, add border, if you wish. 

   Then I began hearing that Joe and Andrea's family was complete after two boys. I felt sort of dumb for having made the quilt top.  I almost gave it away three or four times. But something stopped me.
So a few weeks ago, when Andrea came to pick up Joey and Jack and showed us a sonogram picture with the words "It's a girl!" written on top, I remembered where I'd packed the quilt top away.

Time to finish it.
So I pressed it, cut some of that wonderful, pink dot fabric for the binding...

made my quilt sandwich
quilted it

put the binding on

now it's ready to give.

I'm going to make some receiving blankets to go with it.