Monday, August 31, 2009

Half a quilt, all pieced

Well, here's the pieced top for the "half a quilt". (The applique cat half a quilt is just getting started. I wanted to have one ready for the cooler fall nights.) This one is 50" x 82", and was made with a charm pack of Moda Tranquility, two yard of a print from that collection, and orange and neutral scraps. I'm very happy with it; I think it qualifies as bright. Husband said he likes it, so that's all that matters because it was made for him. I'm not sure how it will be quilted. I could stitch in the ditch, but I'd like to send it to the longarmer and let her do some sort of pattern allover. She can do denser quilting than I'm comfortable attempting. Anyway, I have a few weeks to decide because my longarm quilter is gone on vacation - to Alaska. Boy, I'm jealous.

Friday, August 28, 2009

If you can't sleep, you might as well sew

Reading wouldn't do it. Or watching TV. Or Sudoku puzzles. Or solitaire. So after 2 1/2 hours sleep and two hours tossing and turning I got up and started sewing on my latest project. I almost have half of the 4" blocks done. At least I'm a productive insomniac.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Define "bright"

This is a swatch sample of the Moda "Tranquility" line by Sandy Gervais. There's orange, bright green, teal, lime, aqua, rust. There's squiggles, dots, large flowers and pop geometrics. In person the fabrics are more vivid than on this sample card.

I ask you, would you call these colors "bright"?

Evidently, my husband doesn't. I got the idea to use my charm packs I bought yesterday, in combination with fabrics from my stash, to make him a "half a quilt" for his side of the bed using the pattern I showed yesterday. He says he's tired of brown and wants stuff with some color. (This from the man who wanted the walls painted white when we moved in, and bought a brown leather couch. But, I digress...) I've started making his applique cat quilt (more on this later) but in the meantime I thought I'd knock out another narrow quilt for him to use until the special cat quilt is done. Admittedly, there are some brown fabrics in this charm pack, but the majority have the colors I listed. And, I'm using a blue border and orange squares in the blocks. I figured that would fulfill his "bright" criteria.

Au contraire.

I could have picked up some Amy Butler or Kaffe Fassett or Alexander Henry, but I'm the one making it and I liked these prints. They were whimsical and fun, and - I thought - plenty colorful.

Shows you what I know.

Of course you know, this means war.

I was standing at the back door this afternoon, watching some much needed rain fall, when I noticed something funny about my patio bench cover. I went out to check it when I emptied the rain gauge after dinner.A closer look: And:And:
More squirrel depredation. Why, oh why, would they want to chew up my patio furniture covers? Now I'll have to try to patch the chewed edges and replace the ties.

I'll add it to their tab: two bird feeders destroyed this summer, a handful of tomatoes filched, and a flat of marigolds dug up and killed. Not to mention the pounds and pounds of birdseed they steal and the holes they dig all over the lawn.

The swath of destruction continues.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lavender Lime Quilting

I just have to brag - my local quilt shop, Lavender Lime Quilting, is featured in the Fall/Winter 2009 issue of Quilt Sampler. I was there this morning and picked up a copy of the magazine, which they have been given to sell before it goes to general distribution. They have a great selection of fabrics including the more modern designs by the new faces in the quilting world. Of course, their selections always include the more traditional fabrics I favor as well. It's seldom that I don't leave the shop carrying one of their signature lavender plastic shopping bags, which are so heavy and well made, and are great for organizing projects.

Today I went to pick up two completed quilting jobs from their resident longarm whiz, Sherry, whose work is displayed in their featured design in the magazine. I was very happy with her lovely quilting, as usual, and while I waited as she totaled up my bill, I started to look around. Here's what I found:I bought two charm square packs to use with neutrals and yardage from my stash. Right now, my idea is to make a larger version of this small quilt, except with different borders.

Three charm squares plus my neutrals will yield four 4" blocks, so these two packs will make 128 blocks. With borders, it will be a good lap size - unless someone I know has a baby and needs a crib quilt. The bright modern fabrics would make a great baby gift.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Digging out from the fabric storm

This morning I finally attacked the scrambled mess that my stash closet had become, partly because I was shamed by the organizing effort Elaine has put in recently. I would love to have a large chest of drawers to store my fabric like she has. It would be so simple, just pull out a drawer and look at all the choices, not wrestle plastic boxes off shelves like I have to do.

Anyway, over the past several months (Ha, since January! Be honest!) I have been a total slob about keeping my stash in order. I would pull out selections, cut out patches and drop the folded remains in a pile in front of the shelves. A pile that finally reached such Biblical proportions that I had to break down and fold, stack, and file. Which I did, during a two hour marathon this morning.

Oh, the things you'll find.I was reminded of quilts that I had started planning last year by several three yard cuts of large florals, which would be focus fabric and borders of the designs. Some of which designs, I have to admit, I can't remember. And there, on the top shelf in the green fabric bins, are self-assembed kits for projects, all not started yet. On the bottom left is a large bin of juvenile fabric for Project Linus work. And on the bottom right are dressmaking supplies and patterns, which could be better stored somewhere else, along with the brown bag of dressmaking fabrics. Those skirts I made in the spring reminded me I don't really enjoy sewing clothes any more.

My system is fairly orderly but not particularly handy to see what is stored. The boxes contain smaller pieces, some just scraps, of fabrics sorted by color. I always wrestle with the concept of "how small is too small to keep?" So, one of those red topped boxes is a scrap box for small fragments, which may or may not be silly because I'm not a "crumbs" type of piecer. That box is probably just a holding pattern until I dispose of them. If anyone is interested, I will gladly dump them in a box and mail them to you.

Yardage is folded and stored in the bottom bins and lying on top of the bottom shelf boxes. It's hard to remember exactly what I have, so these straightening sessions are good for refreshing the memory. And, I was reminded of how much fabric I have. "Guilted" about it, more like it.

One of the best things about this cleaning business is that it cleared a place in the center front for my other sewing machine. It's not in use as much as my Juki and I like to keep it safely tucked away in the closet. When there isn't a big ol' pile of fabtic there.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My husband's furry birthday party guest

And, no, before you ask, she didn't get to taste the icing!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Requiem for a good dog

My neighbor has a little chihuahua named Pepe. He's purebred but not the best example of the breed. He's always been a little plump and has a crossbite that gives him a snaggletooth look. Despite his conformation faults, he is an excellent companion for this lady, who lost her husband about 11 years ago and now lives alone.

Her husband was the one who actually bought the dog from a neighbor who wasn't giving the little puppy very good care. He just couldn't stand to see the dog mistreated. As a result, the couple got a loyal pal. The poor thing grieved pitifully when his master died. After her husband's passing, Pepe became very attached to the lady, and shadows her every waking minute of her day.

Now, almost 14 years old, he is terribly spoiled and adored. But a few months ago Pepe started losing weight. Alarmed, she took him to the vet this week and found out the awful reason. Pepe is diabetic and very sick. He's almost blind from cataracts. His diabetes is so severe that it could not be controlled by oral medication. If he were to be treated it would be by insulin injections twice a day. My neighbor is in her upper 80's and lives alone; she is not sure if she would be able to do this by herself. She also worries about his quality of life and how he could live with his failing sight.

Now she faces the most horrible decision a pet owner can imagine. Pepe is on a strict diet for now, but his disease is not abated. He will probably lose the rest of his sight. His kidneys may fail. He has lived a wonderful life and has meant so much to her, but she must let him go. Soon, she must give him her last gesture of affection, a peaceful passing.

She didn't have a good photograph of him so I went over this evening to take a few pictures of Pepe so she will have a memento. Pensively, she said to me, "I lost my husband, I lost my sister, I lost my mother, and now I'm losing my dog." That tells everything about how important this little dog is to her, and how much company he has been.

Good boy, Pepe.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lookie what I made today

I finished a quilt top for a little wall hanging I had promised my husband for ages and ages. I had a fat quarter of fabric with mod little radios (thanks, Jacquie!) that I intended to use for a small quilt for my husband's computer room. He's a radio buff and restores old radios for a hobby. Here's one little radio I fussy cut from the fabric: And this is what I made!
I found some great music and musical instrument print fabric from Kauffman, and matched solid colors with the radios. They, I just distributed the colors in the framing and the inner border. It's going to have red binding, and the black print on the back with a stripe of all the colors pieced together. It's called "Listen to the Radio".
I didn't even start it until 9 o'clock this morning and had to stop for dinner. It just fell together with ease, even the mitered corners, which are not my favorite thing. I love it when I can finish a project so quickly. After all the big quilts I have been making (and smaller quilts with a billion small pieces), this was fun.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Completed piecing "In Lucinda's Garden"

Remember this? I just this minute finished piecing my version, and dashed into the bedroom to hang it on the rod and photograph the results.

And here it is. There are several differences between the magazine design and my quilt. I used all stash, except for the printed panels, so the colors, while similar, are softer. Mine is also more scrappy. My flying geese borders go counterclockwise instead of clockwise (that just happened!). But, the biggest difference is that I arranged the blocks to all face one way. The magazine design had them rotating 90 degrees around the center so a block faced each edge. I didn't care for that and wanted the quilt to be directional, since it will hang on the wall.

I'm pretty tickled about it. I have been wanting a large piece to hang in the back hallway, and this will be it. The colors are prefect. I will drop it off at the longarmer's next week.

Now, which will be next? I could do the lime and purple quilt, or the radio quilt, or the blue and green quilt, or the toile quilt. . .I have a problem here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Maybe a new project - like I needed another one.

Did anyone notice the quilt in the November 2008 issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine called "Dutch Circus"? It's a rendering of an antique Pennsylvania Dutch quilt and it has acid green, purple, red and yellow patchwork and applique blocks.

Here's a picture (I had to photograph the page 'cause the scanner isn't working right now).
OK, don't faint.

It sounds horrendous but, see, it's really bright (well, duh!) and pretty. I thought it might be a good project to practice my fusible/machine applique skills, because the shapes are rather large and not too complicated. The pieced crossroad blocks are nice too. And it's only 63" x 80" so it won't be a stretch to complete.

And, I admit it - I love the green and purple. Where the heck did that come from?

I'm Miss "Subdued colors - love Civil War repro - used to be a Thimbleberries addict". I guess I made one too many dark quilts. Anyway, let in the light, 'cause after I take the recycle stuff to the drop-off center I'm hitting the LQS for bright green fabric.

Stand back everyone, she's goin' wild!

Addendum: This pattern is from 2008 (typo in first line has been corrected). Nov 2008 issue had the first part. When I decided I wanted to do it, I searched my stack of quilting magazines for Dec/Jan 2009 for the second part and couldn't find it. I probably threw it out! So, I had to go to the QNM website and order a copy to get the applique patterns in part 2. Now I have to make it - I have too much money invested!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Belly flop

Our cat Molly is unusual, to say the least. She's smart; you can see the wheels turning in her brain when you look her in the eye. She's calculating, weighing her options. This intelligence makes it hard for her to simply play without a plan in mind. I haven't seen her exuberantly chase a string just for the heck of it in years. She sits and analyzes: OK, she thinks, I see the pattern he's moving the string in, and if I wait until now, it will be over there. Then, she jumps for the place the string will be and meets it there. This is a little more kitty intellect than I was used to.

She also isn't a lap sitter any more. Oh, for a few months she would curl up in my husband's lap in bed in the morning (usually falling asleep and resulting in him being late for work because he didn't want to disturb her) but that stopped before she was a year old. Her big affection thing is belly rubs. On the floor. Nowhere else.

This morning, I walked out of the bathroom to find her on her back on the bedroom floor, four feet in the air, looking for all the world like an automobile accident victim. She lay there, not looking at anything in particular, with a resigned air, like "Well, someone will find me eventually and rub my belly." You see, that's her plan. She flops down on the carpet and waits patiently for me to come upon her and join her on the floor for a belly rub. We call it the Belly Flop.

And, she doesn't walk up to you and flop down. No, she just picks a spot, composes herself there, usually on her back, and waits for someone to find her. This is positively the weirdest cat behavior I have ever seen. I try to tempt her to jump up on the bed or couch for cuddle time, but no go. (Sorry, baby, but mama's getting older and floor is awfully far down.) She will not be persuaded. Beds are for sleeping; backs of chairs are for observing the family in case someone goes to the kitchen; couches are not much good for anything. Floors are for petting. Like this.

So, several times a day I join her on the carpet and indulge in a good cuddle and belly rub. Then we lie down in front of the sliding door and discuss the birds in the backyard. It's a good life these cats have.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Local celebrations

I was reading Tanya's blog about a local festival in her town. It looked so charming and uncommercialized and unpretentious. In the photos everyone seemed to be having a good time, from the children to the older people. These sort of local celebrations used to happen in the United States quite a bit, especially in small towns, but they are disappearing, to be replaced by big corporate sponsored events.

We have a fairly large two week music festival in my city; they rope off a section of the street near the river, fence it in and set up large stages where famous and local people and groups perform. Of course, it's an absolute madhouse mob scene, and you can't even bring in a cooler with your own refreshments through the gate - you have to buy it all onsite. The lines for restrooms and vendors are famously long. I've never gone to it.

My kind of festival is the Sesquicentennial celebration my home town had the year I graduated from high school. The main street through town was closed off to erect carnival rides. There was an art show at the library, concessions manned and cooked by the Eastern Star lodge ladies and good cooks from all the churches (Are Methodist or Baptist cooks the best? ) and a dunking booth where for a dollar you could try to put the high school football coach, the mayor or local luminaries such as the dentist into the tank. That dentist roamed the town the entire week in period costume, complete with top hat. Everyone in the town seemed to dress up in 1820's clothes, or as close as we could manage.

My dad's garage and gas station was at the corner of the two main streets in town, across from the court house, so he had to close for the week due to the blocked off streets - no customers could reach him. He didn't mind. It might have been the first time in over 20 years he closed for more than a day at a time.

Several years later, the town created"Septemberfest" (I guess "Octoberfest" was taken!). For a week, they close the downtown to install the carnival and have all the trappings of a local wing-ding - parades, food booths, concerts and a beauty pageant (one for the ladies and one for the prettiest baby - boy or girl). My dad closed his business every year during the festival and let the carnival hook up to the water supply at the garage for free, earning their gratitude.

Septemberfest has grown and changed, but it still seems to have that lovely local innocent flavor . I'm never there when it happens, but I read about it in the local paper, to which I still subscribe. There are corporate sponsors, sure, but they are the likes of Dee's Drive-In, Mildred's Flowers and the People's Security Bank. It's a celebration of small town culture that definitely goes against the grain of modern American life. It's a dying breed. Don't blink or you'll miss it.

Christmas Lights mystery quilt, part 2

Well, I finally got the next issue of Quiltmaker and to tell you the truth I'm completely flummoxed. I include a photo of the blocks assembled in part 2, courtesy of Quiltmaker's website. These blocks are made of the subunits completed a couple of months ago. I have the star blocks finished but have just started on the other.

How do these blocks relate to each other? I can't see it. I know the blocks are to be set on point and there are 20 of the top block and 12 of the bottom one, so I created them in EQ and plugged them into an on point set with three borders like we were instructed to cut out.

Then I rotated, rearranged and fiddled with them for an hour. The results? A big "wha?". They don't seem to play together at all. Does anyone see anything I don't? I tried the red blocks pointing side to side and top to bottom, alternating side to side and top to bottom, clustered together at the corners with the stars in the center, everything I can think of. I'll be waiting expectantly for the next issue. Even though I have trouble appreciating the parts to this quilt, I guess I'll complete it.

Addendum: Here are my completed blocks. Maybe I'm dense, but I still don't see the blocks relating well.