To Dublin, Berlin, and Back (part Dublin)

I’m dividing this into two posts: first up is Dublin.  As a quilter, I didn’t know what to expect in the surface decoration, the patterns of everyday life in Dublin. Certainly we all are familiar with Celtic knots and crosses and the like, but I have never been that enamoured of those style of quilts (maybe it’s because I couldn’t face appliquéing all those linear feet of bias strips), so was looking for the “flavor” of Dublin that might interest me, a quilter.  So here follows not a travelogue of the two cities I visited, but instead, a sampling of visual pattern and a nod to fabric shops I encountered.

Dublin Christ Church.jpg

Christ Church, in Dublin, is undergoing renovation in certain areas of its property so they erected these fun, bold passageways to usher the visitor forward.  I thought it was just genius pulled out of thin air, until we entered the cathedral:

Dublin Christchurch floor1

The designs are pulled from its floors.  My husband is thoroughly trained as a Quilter’s Husband, so he started snapping photos, too, knowing how I would love the designs.Dublin Christchurch floor2

This is a panorama of one section of floor, and I recognize so many designs, as do you.  You can do a search on them, and find lots of material and more illustrations, but the tiles were either original to the 13th century, or 19th century copies.

Dublin Donuts

If I lived in Dublin, these would be my preferred snack.  They are nothing like American donuts–maybe a little like the filled ones, but their flavors and combinations were addicting.  I could see bringing one of each to a quilt retreat.

Dublin floral building

Lots of flowers, lots of green.

Dublin National Library

We went to the National Library of Ireland, in Dublin, after I saw photos of the reading room.  No photos were allowed, so I grabbed this one from the web:

Dublin NatlLibraryIreland_reading room

What a color palette!

Dublin St. Patricks Door

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, also in Dublin, brought more eye candy to this quilter:Dublin StPatricks floor1

Christ Church still is the best, I think, in terms of floor tiles.


Two shops: Hickey’s and Cloth. I zipped right into Cloth and brought home a tote bag (like I need another tote bag, right?).  I smiled when I saw their floor tiles.

Dublin Garden of Remembrance waves.jpg

Other decorative surfaces were the tiles design at the Garden of Remembrance, with coving on the side of the pool that imitated the laid tiling:

Dublin Garden of Remembrance waves2.jpg

Dublin Bee Stamps.jpg

Lastly, hexagon stamps…which I admired, but forgot to purchase.

Next up: Berlin.


Something to Think About · Travels

Escape to Texas • March 2018


We escaped to Texas last week, to visit our son and his family, as well as head to San Antonio, where my husband participated in a scientific conference.  TexasMarch_1

Pico Iyer, a well-respected travel writer noted that “The urgency of slowing down — to find the time and space to think — is nothing new, of course, and wiser souls have always reminded us that the more attention we pay to the moment, the less time and energy we have to place it in some larger context. “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries,” the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in the 17th century, “and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.” He also famously remarked that all of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”TexasMarch_2

So I tried to grab some undistracted time with my grandsons; Alex and I made a Lego sewing machine.


“When things come at you very fast, naturally you lose touch with yourself,” noted Marshall McLuhan, over a half-century ago.

It was nice to get away.



I’ve been in Washington, DC this past week, visiting friends.  My sister joined me for one day (one MUGGY day) so we stayed in the National Gallery of Art for the most part, taking it all in.  But everywhere I went, I saw the grid.  The underlying architecture of the quilting world, even if we distort it, or break it, or deconstruct it.

The roof of the National Portrait Gallery, and the wall of the courtyard that caught the light.

Sol LeWitt’s stack of blocks.  Almost looks like a bunch of HST there on the right side.  Good luck with the left side.

The iconic image of the the last election, but hey–don’t you see the Orange Peel block there on his upper left cheekbone?  (I enlarged it for you.) This version of the image by Shepherd Fairy is a derivation of what was used in the campaign, and incorporates what is said to be “decorative papers.”  Hmmm. Why can’t they acknowledge quilting blocks?  (Can you tell I just finished reading Jennifer Chiaverini’s latest book: The Master Quilter?)

The carpet in our last hotel.  Reminds me of Ricky Tims’ way of splicing two different interesting whole-cloth fabrics into a “convergence.”

And look! Three blocks!

I spent one day with Rhonda, one who joined in the Red/White Challenge and who took me to the Lorton Workhouse where we enjoyed a lovely day filled with all sorts of inspiration and art.  We saw a watercolor of a lovely pot of flowers by Marni Maree and the title was Sixteen Things About Me. Sure enough, we could spot little artifacts that represented her hidden in her painting.  So Rhonda and I got thinking about doing a small quilt, but lowering the number to say, ten objects, working them into our designs.  In another gallery we saw a quilter who made extensive use of raw-edge applique.  So we added that “rule” to the budding challenge we were thinking up.  But we stopped short of deadline or any other rules, because she’s working on the dotty quilt I have waiting for me to finish with (yes, I got it back from the quilters), and then we’re already doing the appliqued Lollypop Tree blocks together.  The goal: one a month.  But if you think you’d like to join us in this idea of a challenge, leave a comment and propose a size.  Maybe we’ll move it up in the queue.  Or maybe it sounds like a lovely thing to do NEXT spring.  Afterwards we enjoyed lunch together in Occoquan, Viriginia at the Blue Arbor Cafe, where I had an amazing lobster roll. Tons of lobster, but as terrific as that was, the time visiting with a good friend was even better.

Here are all the red/white blocks together so far.  When we were traveling, we stopped the mail, but it gets delivered tomorrow, so I can then wash and iron the red fabric and get my blocks done!


Quilts in Canada

I just returned from a trip to eastern Canada and I was interested in the amount of quilts and quilting that I noticed in Nova Scotia.

On our way to the Anne of Green Gables House, we stopped for lunch at the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company and there were quilts hanging from the ceiling.  I was pretty amazed because around here, nobody does this.  It was the first taste of the frequency with which I would see quilts advertised, either in quilt shops, or in gift shops, or just a lone sign tacked to a front porch: Quilts.

While it is traditional to use quilts in turn of the century houses, I enjoyed seeing what the curators of the Green Gable House had used.  One little girl, upon seeing this, said “Oh, this is Matthew’s bedroom.”  Her fusion of the fictional with the real was a theme I heard from other visitors to this home.

Another bedroom in the house, complete with chamber pot.

Even though everything about this home is fictional (Anne never lived here, nor did the author of the series–it belonged to her grandfather’s cousin and she only visited the house) I still enjoyed seeing the “sewing” room.  A hand-hooked rug is on the floor in front of the machine.  I saw these rugs all over this area–it’s a traditional craft–and to me it’s the quiltiest thing about this room.

On our way out to the outer edge of Prince Edward Island, we saw this sign.  As usual, we were pressing on to our Bed and Breakfast and didn’t stop, but this place didn’t look like it was open, either.  Quilts and sweaters seem to be popular items for sale in this area, a natural considering the weather.

Quilt shops kept popping up everywhere (as well as quilt stores–where they would sell finished quilts).  I’m not much interested in the completed quilts as I prefer to make my own, but was happy that there was such a thriving business here. (Click to enlarge and see the QUILTS business in the background.)

When I mentioned that to the proprietor of Fiddle Stitches, a shop in Mabou (photo above) she nodded.  “Oh yes, we’re doing quite well.”  Click on this link to go to a listing of shops in Nova Scotia.  I found it interesting that there isn’t one in Halifax, the main city on the island.

Since available space in my luggage space was tight, I didn’t intend on buying anything–but I did anyway.  She was so genial and I found a couple of cottons I liked (of course).  Mabou is known for its style of music played with piano and fiddle, hence the fitting name for this quilt shop.

While this wasn’t our bedroom in the Glendyer Inn (a bed and breakfast in Mabou) I snapped a photo of the quilt.

Here’s your kitschy quilt-related photo.  Hanging in our next B & B on the wall.

Mahone Bay had a shop that sold quilts, right next to another gift shop (below) that also hawked these wares.

Even when I wasn’t seeing quilts, or shops, or places to buy quilts, as a quilter, we always see the pattern in places around us.  This pattern was the floor of the “Sailor’s Church” in Old Town Montreal.  I see a grid and I either start sketching (like I did when I sat in the Anglican Church) or snap a photo.  My travel notebooks are full of little gridded out pictures, ideas for future quilts.