Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Lap Quilt Finished

This quilt, called "Rose Bouquets" was an impulse and an experiment. I found the fabric with roses and other flowers on a brownish maroon background as a sizable remnant. It has a lovely feel, either a very good quilting cotton or maybe a dress fabric with some polyester in it. It is somewhat silky, not sleezy. I enjoyed working with it.

Sometimes when I found something that just catches my eye I want to use it NOW. In this case I had seen an article somewhere about a kind of "stack and whack" with four 90 degree triangles put together as these are here. How simply can that be! And how interesting would it be with these roses? My color-pattern "eye" is not that of a well trained artist. I keep learning but I think I will never have a true artist's ability to predict how colors will work. In this case the contrasts within the fabric now seem not to have been strong enough for a zinger of visual impact when rearranged. That was a disappointment. Not that I find it ugly, just less interesting than I'd hoped.

I dug through my stash wondering what to use as stripping and, obviously, decided upon this strip, which has a feel very similar to the other fabric, It's a strong contract, and I'd call it okay but something else might have been better but I didn't have that something else and wasn't going to go shopping for it. So here is the finished quilt. Graded maybe C+, okay. I know someone I will give it to at Christmas time, thus the impulse has taught me a bit and, I think, will be welcomed by the giftee.

Friday, November 27, 2009

About feasting, briefly

Upon moving out of NYC I was afraid I'd never have really good bread again. Not so -- we had two of the most beautiful breads I've ever seen and really shouldn't have eaten yesterday at the beginning of dinner to accompany the cheddar-broccoli soup which was my contribution to the day's goodies. The white bread was from Paneras [a chain]; I am not sure if the multigrain was also theirs or from elsewhere. I must say I regularly have excellent breads here and even quite good bagels.

To put last things first here is, for this dessert lover the piece de resistance, Alison's pumpkin-peacan cheesecake. Even the picture says calorie overload, and I loved every calorie of my piece.

There was a plentitude of veggies, roasted as well as mashed potatoes. We did not go the yam casserole route, nor even the cliche green bean casserole. The stuffing was wonderful -- I LOVE tasty carbs of all sorts. I grabbed this photo of the turkey after the doneness test of twisting a leg had been successfully carried out -- ruins the perfection of shape but bespoke perfection of taste -- seconds before the carving knife struck.
It was perfectly chosen for the size of our group, which included only one vegetarian. Only enough was left for a pot of turkey soup which I imagine is simmering away at this very moment. And so ends another holiday -- and I didn't even mention the warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream ... THAT I should not have eaten. But I did and I still feel full 18 hours later.

It's raining very seriously today so I can't go walk off any of the poundage and, for sure, I'm staying out of the craziness at the maul -- er, I mean mall. It's a great day for some happy quilting.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mad Dogs and an Englishwoman, Polly Adams

My idea of a fun read is an intelligently written book by an intrepid woman adventuring someplace that sounds fascination but is, for one reason or another, better experienced vicariously than in reality. That exactly explains Polly Adams' Mad Dogs and an Englishwoman. She went to the Yukon in January! And spent two months at a sled dog owner's establishing -- except when she was following the Yukon Quest race or going off on side jaunts -- like driving along over the frozen Berring Sea to an Inuit village.

Her writing is so full of enthusiasm for the dogs, in particular, and the place with it's gold rush history and hearty, friendly people that I almost wanted to do the trip -- except for all those times when it was about -40 degrees -- some of those times were nights spent in tents. I have always admired and envied the intrepid Englishwomen [mostly they ARE English] who write of adventuring for the sake of it. It seems Polly Adams has done somewhat similar books about traveling in Argentina, Portugal, New Zealand, China and others. This was my first acquaintance with her, I doubt it will be the last. I learned history I did not know and fell in love with the dogs that she so obviously loved. I almost understand the tourists who showed up in that dark and frigid part of the world at that time of year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cloudy Days

Last week was mostly beautiful, sunny days, a last gasp, perhaps, of autumn before winter breathes it's chilly breath down our coat collars. I was told about a woman called Beckra who publishes a blog called (y) -- I give you this address instead of just a link, because I have bad luck publishing links. I sent her some sky photos and she sent me the following wonderful haiko by Basho (translated by B.L. Einband) which is worth memorizing:

Clouds now and again
give a soul some respite from
moon-gazing -- behold.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Finished at last!

This was a UFO for two extended periods. A part of me likes it, a part of me hates it. I'm SOOOOO happy to have finished it. I will not go into any of the sordid details, but this quilt is an example of all my worst quilting traits, which rarely accumulate all in one quilt, but this time they did. I am totally ashamed of my workmanship and general all around sloppiness in the rush to get the thing done. I promise one and all that I would never treat a sensate being, not even a tree or dandelion in the yard as badly as I have treated this quilt. I am going to give it to some charity although I consider that almost morally reprehensible because needy people do not deserve to have our mistakes dumped on them. And yet, it is a warm cover, the pattern may delight some eyes, probably childish ones. I am not signing the quilt in any way. And I won't -- I swear -- do this sort of rush job again, even to get a UFO out of my sight, out of my house.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The sun is going south

Moving into an apartment where I could watch the sunrises -- from an apartment where a recently erected 23 story building ate all my sky view -- was wonderful. I am a morning person, I usually see the sunrise. This morning I was awake a little before 5:00 and out of bed not long after 5:00. My breakfast table gives me a view of the sunrise. In the six months I've watched it move south, over different sets of tree tops. It has only one more month to keep going south and then it will, slowly and imperceptibly at first, begin moving north again. Right now there are lemony patches of sunlight on my walls so the light fills the room both from the windows and from it's glow on the walls. Such a lovely way to start the day. I know many people sleep through sunrises. Perhaps our largely urban life has deprived us of what I imagine was a childhood training to be up early. Farm life is ingrained in my habits and I felt deprived of a natural right when that building went up; I immediately began dreaming of moving.

I do not see the sunsets. The building is oriented so that no one's apartment has both views. Ideally I would have sunrises beyond a breakfast room window and sunsets beyong a living room, or sun porch window. But then ideals are few and far between and I'm very happy with this beautiful morning. I think I awoke so early because there are several things I hope to do today and now that I've checked my email after breakfast, I'm ready to plunge into the rest of the day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Old Dogs, new tricks

The more I try to learn about using my Mac the more I know I don't know. The last couple of weeks I've sat through very intelligent and accessible lectures about how to use different aspects of my Mac -- I've been using a Mac for 4 or 5 years now and listened to a LOT of lectures. You'd think I'd be getting it. I expected I'd be getting it.

Not so, what is supposed to be SO intuitive that a five year old can manipulate a Mac is just not sinking in. A friend asked me to scan something for her. "No prob, "said I, I've scanned a number of things. Ha! It took at least 15 minutes to go to screen after screen and get the thing scanned -- twice as it turned out. So frustrating, really no understanding the of screen prompt. Feeling like Pooh, "a bear of very little brain". Finally stumbling on the answer and achieving the desired end.

This is not a language that makes sense to me! I am a words on a paper page person and then I am not always good at following directions [especially if they were written by Asian person about how to put together a bookcase or cabinet. It tends to destroy a life time of self-confidence, a belief that, indeed, I was intelligent enough to figure out most logical instructionss. But nothing has yet convinced me computer-eze is logical. And, contrary to the opinion of many who are under 25 years of age, it is NOT FUN. Waltzing around the room to Johann Strauss music is fun, playing Pictionary is fun, riding a bicycle is fun -- computers are not fun. Necessary, yes, in this day and age, but fun? Not. Somd tricks just don't make a lot of sense to old dogs and they refuse to learn.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On my design wall

This doesn't lookd very interesting at this point. It's a my shirting strip cum buttons quilt redux. Below is that quilt in a good picture taken by Cindy Russell of the Empire Quilters Guilt at the time of my show and tell-ing about it. I gave it away and then it got given away one more step and I understand it's owner loves it.

I have to make those largish squares all the same size and, of course make more. I have some other strips -- these aren't all shirtings but the idea is the same. Something else to dream of finishing ... in the fullness of time, of course.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fabric Postcards

I like to have a supply of fabric postcards on hand. Last winter I made a bunch using selvages and putting a picture cut from a fabric in the middle. I liked them, I like using selvages. And I've nearly used up the 40 or so I made at that time. SO -- it was time to make more. Here are two dozen of the 30 I finished today -- they've been the project of the week, not just today.

If you click to enlarge you'll see the photos were actually taken before I finished them. They had been made and backed and ironed [I used spray starch on the front], but they had not had their ends closed -- I used the "pillowcase" backing method. I thought that was where I'd stop today so I took the pictures. But then I had a spell of ambition so I actually finished them except for writing POST CARD on the back, which seems to be necessary to convince the geniuses who work in the P.O. that these ARE post cards.

I've recently received a couple of fabric postcards with a neat stamp on the back that is like the old fashioned postcard message on the once-upon-a-time penny post cards. I might mention that one amazing correspondent sent me a two cent postcard recently -- with the other 40 cents added. She must have found it at a flea market. I DO remember both the penny and two cent postcard. Sometimes I think I have a century's worth of memories stored in that pound or two of gray matter.

I think I'll venture into that very dangerous [to the pocketbook] store downtown that sells all kinds of scrapbooking supplies including many stamps, and see if they have the stamp. I'll try to put blinders on so I don't get too distracted by the beautiful papers and other supplies there. I do not need a new craft so I stay out of that store as well as out of the very neat bead store that's also on the main street. It's always been hard to be a Gemini, I am so distractable and want to try so many things. Time just doesn't allow it. Alas!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Meaning of Dreams -- None

An article in yesterday's Science Section of the New York Times talked about a scientist's recent article letting us know that dreams, in fact, have no meaning beyond that they prepare the mind for waking life, a bit like cranking up the Model A Ford to get it started running. Probably a lot of scientific minded people have felt this way and deeply regretted that Freud and followers somehow legitimized the age-old habit of looking for meaning and even prognostication in those weird scenes that sometimes wake us and sometimes linger when we wake normally.

I've often felt that the many methods of dream analysis were all games, fun to play, full of delightful constructs no matter which set of rules one chose to play by. I really haven't taken dreams very seriously and I remember very few, probably for that very reason. But I think the mind is far more mysterious than this particular scientist believes -- mysterious in the sense of not understood and possibly almost too complex and too different to ever be truly understood. If no two snow flakes are alike, certainly no two human minds are alike, they may have the same structure but once we begin to experience -- which probably begins before birth -- the construction of memory is different for everyone and soon the construction of many other brain functions becomes different also.

Because I try to make this blog a little relevant to quilting -- and don't always try very hard -- I will take a stab at it today. I like scrap quilts as I've often said and it's almost impossible for any two to be the same. I do not like quilts that are copies of others, I do not like kits, I don't even like to see a lot of quilts made by students of the same teacher although they usually are different from one another. I like individuality, and I find it a bit disappointing, a bit sad that so many people have so little self-confidence that they do not trust their own impulses when they make quilts. That opens a huge can of worms and I don't have time to go there this evening. I'd just suggest that if you are a person who believes your dreams have meaning surely you can be a person who dares make quilts whatever way appeals to you because you believe your mind is unique and that something creative happens within it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sherry Shine at EQG

Sherry Shine was the speaker at the Empire Quilter's Guild yesterday -- I had gone to NYC especially to be able to attend the meeting, partly to hear the speaker but also for a members' flea market and to see friends and just plain to be in NYC again for about 40 hours. Sherry paints whole cloth and then quilts it, or has it quilted by a long arm quilter. Sometimes she also appliques on part of the design but she didn't show any examples of that work. She showed several of her works, although many, as she explained, have sold and are in private collections.

The group was very interested in many aspects of her technique and I was glad to hear her practical, basically no nonsense approach because so much in the magazines sounds complex. Lately, she told us, she has been experimenting with using bubble wrap to give the surface a new texture. This has fascinated me and I was curious to see how it worked. The two pictures show how it worked for her. She seems to have used the large size "bubble" although the stuff comes in different sizes. But I thought it was interesting to have this layer of color imposed on the original picture. It make me think of experimenting with it some day.

Just as an FYI, the largest company that makes what we all call "bubble wrap" calls it "encased air packing product." Well, la-de-dah.

Friday, November 06, 2009


I just posted the quilts I wanted to show here on my other blog, BIG 7-0 -- go to "view my profile", click, go to bottom of page and click the Big 7-0 blog. It's early, 7:10AM and not all the spark plugs in the brain are sparking. Sorry.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Reversible String Quilt

Thanks to a string quilt block swap on Swap-Bot, I made three dozen string blocks -- I had a LOT OF string scraps, in fact, I still have a lot but not nearly as many as before. A dozen of those string blocks were swapped, in two sets of six. Then I received two sets of six.

Interestingly, the sets I received were different from mine -- one was narrower strings and very carefully on a perfect diagonal, the other set had wider strips and were on a more acute diagonal and my own were between the two, somewhat wider strings, diagonal varied somewhat because strings were not all the same width from end to end, throwing off the diagonal a bit.

So I decided to use the Sharon Pederson method of piecing blocks together. It's autumn and I was feeling in that frame of mind so I selected fabrics in the orange-brown-green range. for the piecing and borders, as the photos show, a light beige-on-beige for the string side and a medium brown with a subtle gold print pattern for the other side.

With this method of putting the blocks together they are easy to quilt individually before putting together so then only the border needs to be quilted. I really like this method as quilting smallish squares is very easy. As one can see I used a tilted square spiral [is that an oxymoron?] and did it free form, no pattern. Super quick and easy. The Greek key on the border seemed congruent to the other design.

The quilt actually is square it was being held tightly at the top. I hope a day will come when I will figure out how to photograph quilts nice and square and clearly without one side being more shadowed than the other. I think it will require both a new camera and some lessons or directives. But I thought I'd post this as I haven't posted any quilt photos for a while and I HAVE been quilting although not a lot.