Thursday, February 25, 2016

Happy Tummy

After a second two weeks of a soft diet, my dentist told me today that I am a "healthy healer" and can return to a normal diet.

It is now after dinner.

I feel good!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

San Antimo = Tuscan Plainsong

Since the painting is now "officially" finished, I can now publish information about it by its "official" name.  The "Tuscan Plainsong" painting did indeed need a bit of tweaking - both what I had identified and what Sharon pointed out as less than it could be.  I'm going show (in super large size) the last posting to today's work.  The challenge is: Can you identify the changes?  Cover up the last paragraph/s and see if you covered all the additions/subtractions.

First of all never mind the difference in color - I simply can't get the color right from one week to an other.  Okay, from the top - the color of three bell-returns (think that's what they are) at the top of the tower has been intensified on the right side to make them stand out from the background.  Also, the same is true of the right side of the tower itself.  Window openings have been darkened.  Cypress on either side of the tower have been muted because they were simply too intense.  Trees on the right and their shadows all of which I thought need a lot of work, didn't.  When I muted the cypress, it changed what needed to be done.  

Shadows under the rooflines on the main part of the left were made a bit more marked, the dark sides were warmed slightly, shadows on the ground were better defined, and weedy growth at the base of the church's walls was exaggerated.

Whew, wasn't it a good thing I didn't have much to do?  Did you get it all?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bag Finished!

Happy Day - another unfinished project moved to the Finished column.

(Get the sense I'm liking this?)

That's just about it for today.  

Oh, and you're right; I am enjoying finishing projects.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Project Bag

Today I spent the afternoon with friends in a class on bag construction.  There were 6 women in attendance - each one making her version of one of three bags.  Three women were constructing handbags, and the other three (of whom I was one) were making a big project/shopping/overnight bag.

Our teacher is an expert in this type of construction, and she is also an excellent teacher.  We've been fortunate enough to have taken classes from her before and were ready, willing, and able to put our full trust in her.  She is truly amazing!  Keeping a keen eye on all of us and our progress, she shepherded us all through the various stages of our bags.

Fortunately, this time I was ready and was able to finish almost everything.  The final stitching around the top of the bag has yet to be done because I forgot to include in my kit the spool of variegated thread I'd used for quilting and will use for the topstitching.  Also there is an eight-inch seam yet to be sewn in the bottom of the bag.

I've mentioned that I love pockets so I took pictures of the pockets in my bag.  The blue/purple batik is the lining of the bag, and the colorful materials are the pockets.

And these are the pockets on the other piece of the lining.

Can you tell I had a bit of fun?

Friday, February 19, 2016

A's Project Bag

D's sister asked me to make her another project bag for her knitting.  You may - or may not - remember that she has a new, young, energetic, and mischievous kitten named Jubilee.  Jubilee loves to get into anything she can so A needed something to protect her knitting.  She asked for a bag and then the two of decided I'd make one and see how it worked (or didn't) to keep Jubilee "paws off".

A likes it; it appears to foil Jubilee (or maybe she's just not interested) so I made her a second for her birthday.  Here is Project Bag 2, side one followed by side two:

Today I received a very welcome note; A likes the bag.  Have to admit, I do, too.  Some of the fabrics are home decorating remnants, some are pieces of blocks that didn't work, some are pieces of a quilting panel that was better cut up than whole ( a lot better), and quilting fabric from a company (Frond) that I've never seen in any shops around here.

Although the bag was late for her birthday, it was finished before the other quilts shown this week.  I had to wait until D came home, passed judgment, mailed it, and A received it before showing it.  

It's odd that I don't really enjoy making bags designed by others, but these are fun.  Of course, I love collecting appropriate fabrics to use, designing the outer surface and lining, and most fun of all, the pockets.  Now, pockets are fun!  Trying to figure out what might be put in them, how many are needed, the dimensions, how many fabrics of which colors, lined or unlined, and how deep and wide they should be can keep me busy for some time.  

Poor A.  She received utilitarian pockets.  I blame it on the fact that I am a novice knitting-bag maker.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

San' Antimo - Second draft, Days 5 - 7

If you read the title of this entry and blanched, don't worry!  I'm only going to show 2 photos and talk briefly about the paintings.  

When I went to class this week, this is what I took with me.  I hadn't worked on San' Antimo since last week's class but was hoping to get some serious work going after listening carefully to Sharon's critique.  It's time to get this painting finished.

Because it is vacation week and the weather was not very pleasant, there were only two of us in class Tuesday morning.  Indeed, the class consisted of the same three people (I'm including Sharon) that we started Tuesday's classes with - though I didn't realize that until just now.  We worked diligently, and by the end of the day, both of us had made progress.  I continued working on this painting Tuesday afternoon again  today.

Is it finished?  No, not yet. The trees on the right need more work, and then I will listen to what the expert has to say.  I am eager to get on to another painting - one less architectural, perhaps.  But there is one in my mind that will be an extension of the architectural focus of this one as well as include more natural detail (as opposed to the deliberately muted background in this painting) and people.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Almost There - January Resolutions

A report on my quilting resolutions: The list of completed unfinished quilts is so far my most successful category of resolutions.  As a quick reminder of this particular resolution: 
2.  I will make a list* of five quilts that I will work on. 
     First list of fiveThree of those quilts will be unfinished projects, and if I don't want to work on them, I will analyze why not.  If I just don't like the quilt any more, I will give or throw it away.  If I just don't feel like working on it because I'd rather work on something else, I will allow myself to do so.  Two of the quilts will be new projects that I feel like doing using either the fabrics I set aside for that project OR choose as many as possible from my stash.  If I need to purchase something to fill out the list of items needed, that's all right.
     Second list of five: The numbers will reverse - three that are new projects that I want to work on and two are unfinished projects.

The first one is "Geisha's Garden", a large lap quilt begun in 2009 (yes, you read that correctly).  This is the one I took to EC's home for our sew-in on Saturday where I completed the binding - a task that marks this quilt as finished (it already had its label).

The next quilt is a small one and was my second hand-pieced quilt.  Spool quilts are among my favorite so I had been very eager to make this one.  Even though it turned out to be one of two hand-pieced spool quilt I wasn't as enthusiastic about the actual hand-piecing.  However, I really like the way this turned out, and I bound it on Sunday.  Its label is still lacking because I am trying to figure out when it was made.

This next quilt is not completely finished, but now that I have added the pieced borders, it is ready for the quilter.  This quilt, another hand-pieced one, is made using different combinations of the pieces used to make the churn-dash block (third row, middle block).  As things go, this one is relatively new.

And the final one for this showing is the hand-pieced Carpenter's Wheel which I've shown before.  Because it was officially finished last week while D was away, it counts as a completed unfinished quilt for this resolution.  Yes, it does have a label.

Now I have to return to my second "new" quilt that I started in January.  Once that is completed, I can move on to a new list of quilts.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Day with Friends

This past weekend the friendship group that had its beginnings in my hand piecing class (was that two or three years ago?) met at the home of one of the members.  But before I tell you about that home, the activity, and the laughter, I should tell you more about the group.

We are at a point where we no longer call our monthly meetings a "class" although from time to time a new member arrives and I go into teacher mode.  Now if asked, we try to explain how we evolved from a class to a group to a friendship circle.  The origins may have been with hand piecing, but now we all work on any hand work.  Our activities run the gamut of hand quilting, applique, embroidery, hand sewing (of bindings or even mending), wool work, hand piecing, and/or whatever one wishes to do.  We have tacitly agreed that sewing machines don't belong, but even that is not actually a rule.

The main purpose of our group is to enjoy each other's company while doing something we all love.  The bond has grown, and our shared time is precious.

So this past weekend, at the invitation of EC, we all met at her glorious Victorian home for a full day of comradeship and sewing.  None of us brought sewing machines though we had not discussed it (ME and I thought at first that we might take them but nixed that idea because conversation is such an important part of what this group does best).  EC's home is beautifully decorated, comes with three felines who are shy and cautiously friendly - but charming,  and, best of all, her home is very spacious.  After a delightful breakfast (each member of the group brought food for the all the day's meals), we met upstairs, selected seats, and began working and chatting.

EC spent the day working on an applique wall hanging destined for her Garden Room's wall.  It's a very pretty piece with many appliqued flowers (I should have taken pictures but didn't - too busy!).  If I remember correctly, she has only about two blocks left to go.  It shows her love of gardening - which is her passion.  

SR was working on something orange and green - child's quilt? - that escapes my holey memory at this time ( it will probably come to me once I have posted this).  I do remember that the back was cleverly pieced which makes me think she was working on binding the quilt.  

P was hand piecing; she's started a new piece, Grandmother's Flower Garden, with hexagons.  Her fabric is just lovely, and she is fussy cutting it - something not easy to do. Her chosen fabric lends itself to   that kind of cutting as each piece will have its own motif.  One will think she used lots of different fabrics.

SMcG was sewing a wool quilt and is nearly done.  It's primitive in design and her creative additions are super.  Her deft touch turns any pattern into something new and uniquely hers.  She makes us all want to make whatever she is working on.

ME was working on a Veteran's quilt; she had chosen a very striking pattern.  Her colors are red, white, and blue, and the fabric patterns are varied.  The two together with the pattern make for a stunning quilt.  She's almost finished with it; she was sewing on the binding.

And binding was what I was doing, also.  I managed to complete the work on a lap quilt I made for myself in 2009 (yes, really - that long ago!). Do you remember me talking about how I don't like doing bindings?  Well, I have discovered that after all this time quilting, I seem to be able to sew a little faster.  Of course, this was not a huge quilt, but I got it all done that day.  Maybe  .. . just maybe, I'll be able to face the "finishing" with greater equanimity.

I will tell you that every meal was shared in the dining room with food prepared and presented attractively and placed on the table.  Seated around the table for at least an hour, we enjoyed our meals and the company.  Stories were shared as was laughter.  It was as meals are supposed to be but rarely are in our busy lives.

What was the best part of the day?  For me, it was the meals when we weren't distracted by our common hobby but were completely focused on each other and the conversation.  My sense is our friendship was deepened as much in that one day as it would be over the course in several days of "class".

So to each and every one of you, my dear friends, thank you for being you.  I cherish your friendship more than I can tell you.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine for E

Dear E,

How did I ever get so lucky as to be born into a family of - mostly - brothers includinag DBR.  That particular brother had the incredible good taste to convince you to marry him.  Without his persistence in beating away all other suitors for your hand, I might never have met you, a lovely, loving woman.

Why am I sending you a Valentine today, E?  Well, you sent me one.  But not just any Valentine.

Do the rest of you remember my last art quilt?  Here's the reminder:

And, here's the Valentine's Day present I received from you, E.

Girl with a Pearl Earring socks!!!  If it hadn't been such a cold day, they would have been on my feet.  If my quilt is accepted into the Vermont Quilt Festival, you can be sure I will be wearing my to-die-for socks.  Have you all notice she is wearing a pearl earring?

What an incredibly thoughtful gift, E.  You give me pleasure that will last for a long time . . .

Almost as long as the pleasure of simply knowing and loving you.

P.S. Thank DBR for me!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


After various inexplicable fits and starts, I did eventually find myself in my studio to work on the binding for two quilts.  Unfortunately, although I was sure I had made the binding for the Carpenter's Star wall hanging, it turned out I had not.  So after tidying up after the last project, I squared up the quilt, cut and ironed the binding, and machine stitched it on the front of the quilt.

Feeling that I was in the "binding groove", I took out another quilt, for me a very small one at about 24" by 24", for which I had made the binding.  However, I stopped myself in time.  "You are avoiding the part of binding you dislike the most by starting in on a new one.  Finish what you have started and then tackle the next one."

Surprise, surprise, I listened to myself!  Two and a half sides of the binding have been hand stitched to the back of the quilt which means I have only one and a half sides and the sleeve to stitch tomorrow. 

A project will be finished!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

San' Antimo, Second Draft - Day 5

Painting day!  I find that I am not wholly successful in photographing this painting.  Last week's edition was a bit too rich in color so that today's photo will seem palid in comparison.  It's hard to learn how to compensate for different light when photographing watercolors.  My more knowledgeable friends will have to let me know what I should do.  

Until then here is last week's work:

In the above painting, the church is very light partly because of the editing as mentioned above, but it is also light because parts haven't been painted at all.  While that might seem absurd to point out, the viewer might find the next version "dark" in comparison.  Of course, because of the addition of pigment some of the light has been lost.  On the other hand, without that additional pigment, shapes and details would be unclear.

Here is today's version with the same kind of editing as the first - I couldn't stand comparing the two in different "light".

The reality is probably somewhere in between.

I think next week will see this one finished.  That will be a certainty if I make some time this week to work on it.  As usual, it's up to me.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Baby Steps

Another Monday full of the usual once-a-week chores.  However, I did get some quilt-related time.

First, I gathered the faulty-block materials to send to a Guild member who hadn't been able to make to our meeting last week (D was kind enough to take it to the Post Office for me). Then I pulled out another pack of block materials to hand-deliver to still another member who works in a local quilt shop.  Well, you know that was fun!  I was able to pick up a crib size batting even though I chose a cotton instead of the polyester I should have remembered to purchase.  It's for hand-quilting the Improvisation quilt; poly works better for that (it's not as dense so the needle goes through more easily).

After the Guild business was taken care of, I returned home and despite the usual busy-ness of today, I managed to squeak in some sewing on the current project.  Not that I was able to finish it which would have been nice, but even an inch of sewing is an inch more than I had before.  Since I was in a frequently interrupted portion of the day, I moved on to sandwiching the hand-quilting project.  It's now ready for basting.

The rest of the day was spent doing the usual but having been able to get some things ready to work on is a big deal.  My regret is that I wasn't able to sew binding on - I have two I really need to do as soon as possible.  Okay, make that three.

One at a time, and they will be finished. Sometimes all one can do is advance via baby steps.  It's still an advance!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Bowl . . . I Think

D is watching the Super Bowl so, of course, I am keeping him company.  During the first part of the half-time show, I wryly said to him that I almost missed the old shows that consisted of marching bands.  At least I didn't have to worry about understanding a song whose lyrics I couldn't even hear.  No sooner had I said that than they showed - maybe one minute or two? - clips of past shows that gave me something to feed my nostalgic longing for past entertainment.

Then there was the Jeep advertisement.  Now that was pure pleasure; those photographs were stunning!

And the game?  Hmmm.  Well.  Yes, there was a game.

Let's see; I looked through Willyne Hammerstein's Millefiori Quilts book and tried to figure out if I had chosen the correct fabrics for "Pasacaglia", the one I plan to attempt (not English paper-pieced but hand-pieced instead), did some work on the jigsaw puzzle, read a book (Sally Green's Half Wild, the YA fantasy sequel to Half-Bad which I read last year), ate some shrimp and cheese, played some Hearts and solitaire, and am now writing my blog.

And the second half just started.

What will I do now?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Looking Back

Today is the day I report on how my resolutions are holding up against the test of time. This year I approached the entire idea of resolution-making differently.

The first one was "I will try to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen".  And that is exactly what I have done.  My weight reflects some moderate success in reducing intake and resisting foods I shouldn't eat, but even more than that, I continue to make healthy choices more often than not.  I walked, but given the mild weather, I really could have walked more than I did.  Appointments also came between me and a walk several times; January was a busy month.  Here I rated a C for average.

Number two was to make a list of five quilts I would work on.  Here I give myself an B.  With everything else going on, I managed to start and finish a quilt top.  An unfinished project received some attention.  A large bag of patterns was sorted with some being given away, and the same is true of some successful fabric sorting.  However, I did succumb to the siren song of some fabrics, but they were purchased with projects in mind.  And I also took on another challenge even after being reminded of one I had forgotten about.  Stupid!  Oh well, if I make, great; if I don't, no problem.

Working on my art as often as I can was the third resolution.  No grade being assigned on this one as I really didn't have blocks of time.  I did put all my spare time on that quilt top.  Let's see what I can do about that this month.  Finding a better balance may be difficult.

Most important was number four - spending more time with my family.  The subtext there is,"Don't say yes to everything; be more conscious of which commitments you take on."  That's hard when many of the commitments are to spend time with dear friends.  Where I can, and I think I have pared down for this month is in the category of classes.  And I have resolutely kept vacation week free so we can spend time with our daughter and grandson.

All in all?  I'm working on it.  It's been on my mind, and that's better than the fate of resolutions most years.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

San' Antimo, Second Draft, Day 4

ME reminded me tonight that I hadn't reflected on the "resolutions" I made in January, and she was right.  Her reminder was welcomed because I had totally forgotten.  Tonight, I told her, tonight I will write about how I did and reflect on what I need to do this month.

And that was my intention until I reflected on today.  It was painting day, and how, I reasoned, could I not discuss the painting when it is so fresh in my mind?  So, with apologies to ME, the discussion will be on the painting.

Last week I turned my attention from the first study (disaster) to the second.  By the end of the painting day last week, things were looking up.  Here's what I had at the end of last week (I'm showing it so you don't have to try scrolling back and forth):

This week the progress was slow.  Very slow . . . and that's one of the lessons for today.  Architectural painting is not something I can do quickly.  I am able to paint things like the background more loosely now than when I began watercolors, but I find it almost impossible to transfer that loose brush stroke over to the building.  I'm inhibited partly because, as always, I want it to be perfect. But also because this is relatively uncharted territory - painting a complex building in a way that gives a sense of its mass as well as the architectural details.  All that and its simple beauty.  I want to capture it all.  And while trying to do that, I also want to comvey my sense of its importance to the community as well as its solitude.  And how the heck am I going to get this all in one painting?

Here's today's work.  The building is coming along, but I'm not so sure about all the rest.

Tomorrow?  The easier stuff, I promise, ME.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday is Wash Day

Monday is a day of house work; at least it usually is for me if I remember, a. what day it is and, b. to do it.  Today we were up early so D could take the car in for a check up.  That got me started so the laundry was well on its way to being finished by noon.  

Once the car was available, I was able to go off to the grocery shopping (oh joy).  Actually, I don't mind grocery shopping - as long as I can find the items on my list.  Today I didn't have much luck with some of the more common items.  When I asked about that at the customer service desk, I was told they stock what sells.  Well, that makes sense to me, a store can't stock everything.  But milk without flavoring or sugar (I wanted plain Almond milk - not coconut flavored, vanilla, not chocolate)?  It wasn't a big deal or many items, but it was surprising and inconvenient.

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.  After lunch, it was time to make the crust-less quiche for tomorrow night's dinner.  Like any custard, a quiche's flavor develops with time (a little time, anyway).  And it is crust-less because it doesn't need one, and neither of us want the calories or fats especially when one considers what else is in a quiche.  This one is made with onion, broccolini, cherry tomatoes, and cheddar.  See what I mean about the need to eliminate excess calories?

Then it was time to return to a chore I had started earlier.  I sorted patterns.  Sound easy?  Not if you consider the categories into which I was sorting them:  1. time to start/or time to finish, 2. I really want to do this - sometime, 3. maybe someday but definitely not now, and 4. get rid of this one!   Not easy decisions to make, but I feel virtuous because I got through the pile.  They are all now filed where their category placed them.

Then it was time to finish writing some letters to family members which didn't take much time. That ended the list of things I hoped to complete today; for once I didn't have unrealistic expectations.

Oh, and I should add that my entry form for the Vermont Quilt Festival was mailed today.