Archive for the ‘Virginia’ Category

I have been feeling quite creatively uninspired lately.  With the heat and humidity, the moving and unpacking, and the new job, pretty much all of my creativity has gone into planning worship, writing sermons, and thinking about visioning for the church.

But last night I got a good shot of creative inspiration that may be enough to get me motivated to get my workroom in order and get busy.

I visited a meeting of the Meherrin Piecemakers Quilt Guild and had a wonderful time.  This group is relatively small, about 20 members, but are they ever busy.  It was hard to keep track of all the things they’re doing, but two things that really caught my attention are the work they do to make quilts for the Family Violence Prevention Program ,and the Quilt Show they put on for the annual Virginia Peanut Festival

They’ll be showing and then collecting lap-size quilts for victims of abuse, many of whom are children, at their September 27-28 show during the Peanut Festival which will also include vintage quilts, “first” quilts, and many other quilts as well as items for sale. 

I now have a use for and reason to get busy quilting the Shoo-Fly-Away quilt top I made a couple of months ago.  It will be a great quilt to give away to someone who can use the comfort a quilt can provide.


The really fun parts of the guild meeting are Show and Tell and demonstrations.  So many beautiful quilts and smaller objects were shown.  I left all my quilts in Taos, so I only had my Bow Tucks bag and one of my fabric journals to show, but another person in the group had also made a Bow Tucks bag and it was fun to see how different they look in different fabrics.

The demonstration by Debbie was on Stack and Wack quilts which I had heard of but never done.  There’ll be a full day workshop on August 2 and I’m planning to go. 

This morning I pulled out some of my Zimbabwean fabrics that I got in Mozambique and picked this one out to try.  The technique calls for distinct, brightly colored, repeating prints.  I think this one might work nicely, but I can’t pass up an opportunity to do a fabric purchase, so I’m going to take a look at a fabric store today, also.



I am continuing to make slow progress on my Aspen Grove Shawl, although it doesn’t really look like it.  I have about 11 more rows to complete on the first section.  I’m still enjoying working on it, but am ready to start into that next section.


It’s great to be thinking creatively again.

Oh, I forgot to mention.  A real surprise last night was another first-time visitor to the guild.  My friend Kay, whom I’ve been corresponding with via Ravelry and my blog visited also.  She’s not a quilter, yet, but wants to be.  We’re very close to getting our knitting group started.  What fun to finally meet her and learn that she’s interested in quilting, too! 


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I was able to complete the second corner section of my blackwork snail trail yesterday.  The “story” these corners tell is of waiting with varying degrees of patience.


The other two corner spaces will mirror these across the diagonal.  As I see the picture I’m thinking the brown corner is a little too dark for the rest of the piece.  I’m hoping it will balance better when the opposite corner is put in.

Making my way through these last corners of stitching is much like the waiting we’re doing to get into our house and get to work.  Both require a great deal of patience, which I don’t always have.   

I’m anxious to complete this piece by the end of the month for the challenge, but it does require quite a lot of patience to keep at it.  Normally a piece like this would take more than a month to complete and other projects could be worked on around it.  I have worked a tiny bit on some other things, but this one really requires most of my attention to stay on schedule.

We went for a walk yesterday along the Lower Appomatox River Canal.  It was really much too warm for a long walk, but we did manage part of it.  Mishka kept wanting to stop and rest in the shade. 

We walked to where we think the canal system starts on the river.  It is no longer in operation, and we climbed up on the lock mechanism where I got some interesting pictures.







This is part of the dam at the beginning of the canal.  We think this is where the water was raised and lowered to move barges along the canal.

We walked the tow path where barges would have been towed along by horses or maybe oxen.

I’m not sure what they used here.





It was fascinating to study the gearing mechanism that was used on the locks.


These are actually quite large.











This gear is two to three feet across.



I think old things like this make cool pictures that can provide inspiration for work in fiber and textile.  I especially like the texture.

Can’t you see something pleated in mixed media from this?


Not sure what I’ll do with these, if anything, but they’ll go in my design source file. 

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In our travels yesterday we took the Jamestown Ferry across the James River from Surry to Jamestown.  It was a beautiful day for the fifteen-minute crossing.


The Williamsburg,


the Pocahontas,


and the Surry, which we rode.  The landing at Jamestown is the site of the original Jamestown settlement.  We didn’t visit Jamestown on this trip, although we have in the past.  I understand a lot of new things were put in for last year’s 400-year celebration. 


I caught this great blue heron on the pier at Jamestown posing with a navigation light.  The bird was as undisturbed by the ferry pulling in as was the light. 

I’m continuing to make progress on my snail trail blackwork project for the June Take it Further Challenge


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Last night I completed another section on the snail trail:


I really like this pattern (on the left) that is another from the selection of blackwork fill-in patterns I’ve been using.  Now I’ll be filling in the other two sections to mirror these.  I’ll need to complete one section a day to finish this piece by the end of the month.

Yesterday we walked the Dutch Gap Conservation Area Trail at the site of the 1611 settlement of Henricus.  There’s an historical interpretation center there, but it’s closed on Mondays so we didn’t visit that part of the park.  We were there mainly to walk and enjoy the outdoors anyway.

This park is along a portion of the James River where two loops of the river were bypassed by a canal dug by Union troops during the Civil War.

There are hiking and biking trails as well as a water trail that can be traveled by canoe or kayak.  

Here are some pictures I took:


All along the walk we were surrounded by butterflies and dragonflies.  We were serenaded by birds all around.  The dragonflies were in a myriad of colors:  blue, bright green, black and white, red-orange, glistening gold.



The park is a wildfowl refuge and includes a heron rookery.  We saw several great blue herons and egrets.  There are also many kinds of warblers in the park.  Although we didn’t see any we definitely heard them. 


Mishka, who can keep up with us on mountain bikes in New Mexico, wilted in the Virginia heat and humidity over the 4.5 mile walk.  She wanted to slow down and rest in the shade whenever she could.


Near the end of the walk we spotted this amazing sculptural tree trunk.  There are leaves and branches at the very top, forest canopy height.  The trunk looks large enough to make comfortable seating for one or two. 


Although the weather was quite warm and humid, it was a great walk with some beautiful sites. It would be fun to return and do the water trail and visit the historical site.  

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Traveling along the snail trail I’ve moved into the next round of sections with a pomegranate blackwork pattern from

Fill-in Patterns from Sixteenth Century Blackwork Embroideries.



If you squint your eyes you can see the swirl, especially in the darker colors.

My goal of making a post each day on this piece is sometimes hard to meet, but is a really good way of staying “on track,” especially as the sections get larger and more complex. 

I continue to like this piece more as I go along.  I’m planning to make it into a pillow top inset into some sage green linen, if I can find it. 

Today we’re going to walk the trail at the Dutch Gap Conservation Area which is considered by the Audobon Society to be one of the top birding sites in Virginia.  ‘Hope we see some birds, although we don’t have our guide book with us, so we won’t be able to do much identification.  There’s a heron rookery there, so maybe we’ll see some of those majestic birds.   

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One more round is completed on the snail trail.


Yesterday we did some driving around the area.  We were on some back roads south of Petersburg and found this water area.  We weren’t able to find the name of it–don’t know if it is swamp, pond, or river–but we were amazed at the thousands of blossoming pink and white water lilies.

I took some pictures across the water and a few close ups of the water flowers near the road.  I wish I could have gotten across the water to see this mass of flowers close up.





We also drove a short distance into North Carolina and had lunch at a lovely tea room called Timeless Tea in Roanoke Rapids.  It’s a really neat place divided into separate tea rooms, including a princess tea room especially for little girls and a tea for two room.  We’ll definitely be going back there.

We also found the Roanoke Canal Trail along the Roanoke River.  There’s a very nice museum that details the lock system that used to be used to move goods up and down the river.  We didn’t have time to explore the museum and trail yesterday, but will as soon as we can.  It’s an eight mile long trail than can be walked or cycled.  Roanoke Rapids is about twenty minutes from Emporia.   

Our third stop was The Woolery in Mufreesboro, NC.  It’s known as one of the best sources in the country for spinning and weaving materials and tools.  Sadly, I forgot to check the hours.  They are only open a few Saturdays and this was not one of them.  Another place to return to.  I did peek in the windows and saw lots of great things.   

That also means I didn’t get the needles to start my shawl.  I’ll be checking out the Yarn Lounge in Richmond this afternoon.

‘Went out for my first bicycle ride in VA since our return, this morning and was amazed how much easier it was.  Elevation really does make a difference. 

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It’s now officially summer and one more section is completed on the snail trail blackwork block for my June TIF project.  It will take some diligent stitching to finish this piece by the end of the month as I move into the larger sections and use more complicated patterns.  


Today is the official start date for the Seasons of Lace, Summer 2008, knit-along that I’m participating in on one of my Ravelry groups. 

I’m using this yarn, a 50% merino wool, 50% silk lace weight yarn from Wooly Wonka Fibers in the Quaking Aspen colorway (or Aspen Grove as it’s apparently now called).


The pattern is Aspen Grove Shawl designed by Miriam L. Felton. 

In this knit-along the participants can choose whatever they want to knit, but I’m actually knitting this shawl along with at least one other person.  There are some really amazing things that people are going to be working on.  Many of us are posting on the blog linked above so other people can see.  

I have to pick up a circular needle with sharp points for lace knitting and wind up the yarn into a ball and I’ll be ready to start. 

I have been happily anticipating this start, even though I haven’t yet completed my Branching Out scarf.  It’s almost done, though.

Yesterday we went hiking in Pocahontas State Park and Forest.  This was the first time we’ve been there, and it looks like it has a great potential for hiking and biking.  I forgot to take my camera, so no pics.         

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