Monday, September 29, 2008

Waiting It Out

Today is one of those days when I must have had an exposure to something that didn't give me headache but has left me with chills and depression. Or perhaps this is the tail end of yesterday's exposure to vehicle exhaust fumes. I don't know; I get tired of trying to figure it out. I just have to tie a knot in my rope and hang on until it passes.

(photo by Craig Jewell, lifted from

Saw this quote on Run Away Quilter's blog and had to copy it over for myself:

We have to trust our own choice after all,
and end with the simple belief that what pleases us is beautiful.
Indeed, no other rule is of any use to us,
and if we do but honestly please ourselves,
and make forms which genuinely give us pleasure, we shall find ourselves credited with the power of designing beautiful things.

--Richard Hatton

Maybe I'll go sew some scraps together...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gizzy Quilts

Some time ago Lynne, over at The Patchery Menagerie, needed to raise money for vet bills. She came up with the idea to make smallish quilts for cats and see whether they would sell or not. They were a hit. You can read the whole story here. She has also kindly written a tutorial describing how she makes these quilts. (It's on the sidebar of her blog, towards the bottom.) The first time I read through it I knew I'd have to give it a try.

I made my first one a little bigger than the ones Lynne makes specifically for cats so I could donate it to the neo-natal intensive care unit for a preemie baby.

Yesterday I made another one, this time with a cat theme so I can donate it to our local Humane Society for their upcoming fundraiser auction. I have it layered with backing and batting but haven't done any quilting yet.

At the moment I'm slightly incapacitated. I pin basted the Halloween quilt yesterday before I started working on the cat quilt. I smoothed the layers out on my double bed and then slid a cutting mat between the backing and the quilt I've been sleeping under to keep that quilt from being pin basted to the Halloween quilt. My back didn't take kindly to being bent at that particular angle for an extended period of time. I probably would have been smart to lay down and rest it rather than moving on to the Gizzy Quilt but when have I ever claimed to be smart?

We're having such a lovely day here today that DH and I went for a drive. It was a route we've taken many times in the past, but it's so pretty that we never get tired of it. It's been such a long time since I've been out anywhere beyond the Food Co-op that I felt like a starving man at a banquet! The slight headache I have from getting out of the car to get a better look at this view is totally worth it.

And now I think I'm going to go check out Picassa per Tonya's recommendation. When I clicked on the picture of my Halloween quilt in the previous post it didn't enlarge. Guess I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and learn yet another photo program... :-P

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ta Daa!

Here's my finished Halloween quilt, in all its' glory (I didn't reduce the file size before uploading so hopefully you can click on the picture and see every detail).

I started piecing a back out of other Halloween prints from my stash but kept running into fabrics I didn't want to sacrifice for the back of a quilt. Eventually I remembered a leaf print my mom had given me years ago. There was just enough of that to accomodate the length of this quilt. It was much easier to add a bit to the sides to get the width I needed. Now all I need is batting (again!) and a decision about whether to quilt or tie this one. If I were a free motion quilter this would be a lot of fun to quilt. Unfortunately, my free motion skills are not what I'd like them to be, nor am I willing to take time out to make them better at the moment. So I'm leaning toward tying. I think it could even add to the whimsical quality of the quilt. Better yet, I'd probably get this quilt done before Halloween this year!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Slimy Crawlies

I've turned my attention back to my Halloween quilt now that the fungly quilt is done. You can read about my first steps with it this year here. (It began as a set of lottery blocks I'd won several years ago. Last year I finally set the blocks together with the intention of making a Halloween quilt for our use but got stuck before I got very far with it.)

My friend C~ recently bought about four yards of this adorable snail print. When I saw it I thought the snails would be perfect to include in my Halloween quilt. And I was looking for something to fill out my new plan for the top and bottom borders. C~ generously shared some with me :- )

I put the snails underneath the "Happy Halloween" I'd fussy-cut from a tablecloth panel and stretched out the flying geese units on either side. This is a detail shot of what will be the top border:

Black is really hard to photograph, did you know that?

Once I got the top and bottom borders put together I discovered they were about 2" too long - of course. Back in the day I would have taken the side bits apart and narrowed the compensating strip between the flying geese to adjust the size. Now, in my maturity and wisdom (yeah, right!) I plan to just add a strip to either side of the body of the quilt and call it good. I'm excited to get all the pieces of this quilt together and see how it looks. I think it's going to be fun to have around.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Well Blow Me Down!

I almost missed it!

Talk Like A Pirate Day was Friday, September 19. (It's always Sept. 19. I need to put that on all my calendars next year!)

Guess I was so distracted by my Fungly quilt that I wasn't paying attention. (Thanks for all the nice comments by the way.)

Fortunately some pirates are partyin' all weekend long so I haven't missed the boat completely. There's even evidence, right out there for all the world to see! Pirates have no shame.

While I was busy stitchin' and tyin' JoWynn dropped by and left me a lovely award :- ) I'm always honored when this sort of thing happens.

"Who, me?!"

She said I didn't have to pass the award along because she knows all too well how precious my time has become to me and it does take time to pick 5 other bloggers whose work I admire, email them about the award, and link to them on my blog. The hardest part is picking the 5 other bloggers. You should see my favorites list! The folks I've put on my sidebar are seriously only a fraction of the blogs I've visited and loved. So in lieu of my nominating 5 specific bloggers, if you haven't already done so, take a tour of the Liberated Quilters web ring and enjoy their work. It's not a large ring and I would bestow this award to everyone on the list. Look for the liberated star badge (it has a yellow background) on my sidebar and click on one of the options under the star. Oh wait ~ you might want to make a cup of your favorite beverage and grab a couple of cookies before you start your journey!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Woohoo ~ Another Finish!

I am so glad I got the Fungly quilt layered and basted over the weekend. Tying and binding it has been the perfect thing for me to do the last couple of days.

I don't remember whether I told you or not, but I found a perle cotton in my stash from probably 25 years ago (eek!) that seemed perfect for this project. It's sort of a light dusty blue. Not ugly, but not my taste any more and it needed to be used up. The only problem was that it was size 3, the fattest perle I think you can get. And because I was feeling so cranky and was determined to have four tails on each knot I used it doubled in my needle. Broke the first needle I used. I've never done that before! By the time I had ties in the centers of all my stars I had a blister on my right index finger as well. After that I switched to just 6 ply cotton floss in a dark blue to tie the corners and mid-points of the blocks. The mid-points are tied on the back to keep the top less busy.

The binding was made from strips a friend had given me years ago that never seemed to work in any other project I auditioned them with. Sort of a tie-dye in two different colorways. The magical thing was that both colorways worked with the quilt! Probably because all the fabrics are from the same decade ;- )

It was interesting to see DD's reaction to the finished quilt today. She was really attracted to it. The funny thing is, when she went through the stack of blocks before I set them together she wasn't all that impressed. She's generally pretty enthusiastic about my projects but those blocks didn't do anything for her... until they became a tied quilt! (She's especially fond of tied quilts.) Makes me chuckle just to think about it.

DH, on the other hand, is still less than impressed. He appreciates the time and effort that went into the quilt, he can even understand the funkiness of the finished product, but it just isn't his style. He much prefers elegance and symmetry. A Mariner's Compass in Jinny Beyer prints would be perfect for him. Poor guy, he'll never get that from me!

On a technical note, my apologies to those of you who were hoping for a closer look at the beading on my journal quilt. I don't yet understand why the pictures I edit with software in my computer won't enlarge on Blogger. I have patience to sew a gazillion beads on a quilt but I don't have the patience to learn how to use more of the tools available on the internet! I'd like to upload a picture in my header too, but haven't made the time or found the patience to make that work either. I need to find a local blogger who can sit down with me and walk me through it all.

And thanks for hangin' with me through the ups and downs of my days.
:- )

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


And that's not in the pirate sense of the word!

DH and I were watching TV last night. I was so upset by the violence in the program I had to get up and go do something else. I soothed myself by making a couple of collages in my studio journal and then got ready for bed. Unfortunately, I was so stimulated by the creative juices that I couldn't go to sleep for hours! Now I'm unable to resurrect that creative energy because I'm sleep deprived. Arrrgh!

One day last week I finally picked up my needle and thread and finished beading my journal quilt for May. Remember this?

Part of the reason I got stalled on it was that I didn't know what to use for the backing. I like my backs to relate to the fronts in most cases, and particularly in this case because of the gravity of the subject. In another case of serendipity I was online one day some time ago, probably looking at sale fabric. There was a lovely antique map print that I had to have even though I had no apparent reason to buy it (that I knew of at the time anyway). Turns out it was perfect for the back of this little quilt. I was able to fussy-cut the portion of the world map that featured both China and Burma. I chose the easy route and used it for the binding as well.

So here's my completed 8.5" x 11" quilt that commemorates the cyclone that devastated Burma and the earthquakes that rocked China early in May of this year:

To recap, the heart is made of a silk chrysanthemum damask. Both the color white and the chrysanthemum are symbols of mourning or lamentation in Asia. The pieced background symbolizes the robes of the Buddhist monks who did their best to care for and comfort the survivors. The beads represent the tears shed for lost loved ones.

Technically this will be the last quilt in my series of 12 journal quilts for the Bead Journal Project of 2007-08. I still have the tops from February and April to embellish though so I'm not actually done yet...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

About That List...

It was a rough week, but I think I'm back. In fact, I couldn't believe how much I got done yesterday. I pin basted three quilts and made my postcard quilt for this month's Take It Further challenge!

You may recall that the concept challenge for this month was lists. Not being one to go for the obvious, I have a list 5 pages long of potential ideas ;- ) I even went so far as to toy with the idea of 'enlisting' Shakespeare's help with this challenge. The ghost of King Hamlet appears to his son (also named Hamlet) and says, "List, list, O list! If thou didst ever thy dear father love..." It would have been fun to portray the ghost and Hamlet on the parapet of the castle. A bit much for a 4" x 6" postcard quilt though.

Finally, the day before yesterday, I asked myself what Reilly's To Do list would look like.

I concluded that it would be pretty short, and fairly easy to illustrate:
1. Eat
2. Sleep
3. Play

Of course, 'play' includes things like barking at the neighbor kids, telling me it's time for a treat, snatching a dirty sock from the laundry basket and running off with it, and generally being a nuisance when I have other things to do. I figured dogs aren't into detailed lists, though, so this would suffice. This postcard was pieced from four different prints, then I did some hand embroidery to highlight certain elements and added the letter beads and the blue "ball" bead in the lower right corner. Now I can begin putting the ties in my Fungly quilt or tackle one of the other things on my To Do list!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sew Far, Sew What

What if things don't turn out quite the way you thought they would? How often do they really?

As it turns out, I couldn't bring myself to cut the machine embroidered scrap any further. Nor could I even pretend it was pieced by putting in false seamlines. So this is what I have:

And this may be how it stays, at least for a little while.

I used embroidery floss to secure the rick-rack in place, stitching down the machine embroidered piece at the same time. At the top and bottom, under the rick-rack, is a torn strip of a vintage fabric I had in my stash. So I have lots of raw edges. I tried many buttons as potential embellishments but none of them seemed to belong. I have no interest in merely embroidering the printed design on the dresser scarf... We'll just have to let this simmer and see what happens.

I've had multiple exposures over the last couple of days in spite of the precautions I have in place. I spent yesterday on the couch, just letting my body recover. I will be glad when my enthusiasm and energy returns. There's a list of other What If's I want to experiment with in my studio journal, there's the Fungly quilt to assemble and tie, there's the Halloween quilt border to sort out, and there's the Take It Further challenge to fulfill for this month. Ironically, the theme of this month's challenge is lists! But we'll deal with that another day.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What If-ing

Jude over at Spirit Cloth has a second blog called What If wherein she publicly explores the possibilities that open up when she applies the question of "what if I do this?" to her textile adventures. Recently she began considering crazy quilt blocks in this second blog of hers. The upshot is that she has created a collaborative project (and a montser apparently!) in which anyone who is interested can participate. I tried to resist, truly I did. In the end I fell down the rabbit hole after my friend Calamity Kim. Once you ask that question of "What If?" all sorts of things begin to happen...

My experience of crazy quilts and blocks is rooted in the traditional Victorian genre. At that time crazy quilts were for show, not function. They were a not-so-subtle display of a Victorian woman's wealth and needlework skills (which were valued more highly by the general public than is the case nowadays). So one of the first questions I asked myself was, "What if I use materials that are the direct opposite of what a Victorian woman would have used?" Instead of luxurious silks and velvets I would use vintage, thrifted, or salvaged textiles. In place of elaborate stitching I would keep my stitches and embellishments simple and humble. With that in mind I went through my stuff and unearthed this:

I think it must be some sort of dresser scarf. It's only about 11" x 15". I picked it up in a thrift store some time ago just because it appealed to me and it was cheap. I had no idea what I might do with it. (There's a goodly amount of that sort of thing in my closets and drawers.) My next 'what if' was, "What if I didn't cut this at all but used it as-is for the foundation of my block?" Seems reasonable; we'll give it a try.

Now, I don't particularly enjoy hand applique so I've never made a crazy quilt in the purely traditional style of appliqueing organic shapes onto a foundation. I'm all for rotary cut straight edges, especially if they're a bit wonky. So it will be a stretch for me to simply lay additional pieces of fabric on top of this foundation and stitch them down. I'm not planning to turn under any raw edges though. I want to experiment with raw edges and alternative seam treatments. Jude has come up with some wonderful ideas in her explorations that I want to try for myself.

So, here are my humble beginnings for a thrifted, salvaged, What If crazy quilt block (or quiltlet - who knows?): the dresser scarf, a machine embroidered scrap from a skirt I once owned, vintage rick-rack and embroidery floss. Stay tuned to see what else, if anything, makes it into my 21st century mini crazy quilt.

What if I began by cleaning up my work space so I have a little elbow room?!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fungly Interrupted

When I went to layer the fungly top with batting and backing I discovered I did not have a piece of batting big enough. (Naturally.) I really thought I had something I could use, but the only big piece is reserved for another quilt-to-be and I was not willing to cut it down. While I waited for one of my guys to get some batting for me our temperatures dropped enough to make it feel autumnal around here. I was inspired to get out this UFO from last year:

Sometime between then and now I purchased a Halloween print, probably online, probably on sale. Turns out it would be perfect for borders for this top... except there wasn't enough to go all the way around (because it never occurs to me to buy big pieces for borders or backs; I'd rather have lots of small pieces for the same amount of money!). I put a flat piping on top of the orange and black stripe to ease the transition, then added the Halloween print to the left and right sides of the top.

Next I pieced some flying geese units, thinking I would make blocks to use in the corners where the borders would eventually come together.

The problem was that when I auditioned the blocks against the top they were both too big and too busy.

{Sigh} It felt like it took a long time to assemble four of these blocks. I have since taken them apart, into quarters, and have some new ideas to try out. We'll see how well they work...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Birthday!

We're having a little grandma time in today's post :- )

Baby Susan, who was accidently born at home last year, has been celebrating her first birthday. She's been in training to blow out her own candle but in the end required a little assistance from Big Sister.

She thoroughly enjoys birthday cake!

Well, don't we all?

Miss M gets to start preschool this week too. She first identified herself to her teacher as "Princess Margaret" but then changed her mind and decided she was "Barbie Margaret" thank you very much. By the time school actually starts she may be "Puppy Margaret" or "Kitty Margaret." Three is much too early to have to decide who or what you're going to be after all ;- )