Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Gift Bags

It's an interesting phenomenon; I am recuperating from a nasty cold that D kindly shared with me, but I have little to no energy or even a desire to have energy.  And that sentence makes me wonder if anyone has ever complained about having a "nice" cold?  Oh well.  Because of this lingering malaise, I've been doing everything except what I should be doing.  Therefore, no news of paintings because I haven't painted except in class (and because the current painting is another secret project).  Nor have I returned to my major quilting project because I just don't have the oomph, a.k.a. energy.

Instead, I have returned to a whimsical project I started last year (?) or the year before.  I have been making Christmas gift bags from scraps of holiday fabrics (or that's the way it started; now I sometimes purchase that kind of fabric when it goes on sale).  My thinking was that we spend a lot of money on paper and ribbon that gets thrown away, and while much of that is biodegradable, some of it (foil paper and glittery/synthetic ribbon) may not be.  It also adds up to a lot of money over the years.  So I thought, why not make pretty fabric bags that can be re-used every year?

Of course, there are drawbacks.  Gift bags don't really work well for curious youngsters, that's for sure!  And if you are sending something to someone, can you ask them to return the bags?  No, I don't think so.  You might be able to explain why they have fabric wrapping and ask them to use them as part of their tradition, but . . .  It might not be appreciated.

Anyway, here are some of the ones I have made - partly just for fun.  In the first photo the one in the front is this year's, but the two in the back are not.

Older one in the front.

And this one (showing both sides) is new and is made from pieces intended for a Christmas table runner that was never made.  Those triangular bits were used in every bag I've done so far this year.

The others are similar. I take pieces all higglety-pigglety, square them up, add more fabric pieces to even things out, then put on the top cuff (with a channel for a ribbon to pull it close), and there you go.  Bob's your uncle!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The "Right Thing"

How lucky we are that our daughter and her son were able to come down to visit us this past weekend.  They arrived late-ish on Friday because grandson had a swim meet.  Late or not, we were delighted!

On Saturday, D took "our boy" to a baseball card shop as he has developed a huge interest in baseball cards.  Fortunately, D knew of a very good one right in our area; I had worried that we might have to see if the shops in Cooperstown were open.  Grandson (C from now on) had been to one or two places where he lives, but I guess they are not shops that specialize in baseball cards since C was amazed at what he found.  D's shop specializes in only baseball cards, and the owner was very, very kind to C without being patronizing.  Anyway, C came home with lots more cards, and he was beaming from ear to ear.

Actually, the success of the baseball card foray was the reason they decided to leave earlier than planned.  Originally, daughter and C were planning to depart today, but C wanted to share his booty with his good friend who also collects.  If they had left when planned, C would be going with his dad to visit his dad's family in the D.C. area.  How could we object?  Any visit, no matter how short is still a visit!

So, we had dinner and got ready to play our traditional game of U

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Puzzle Update

A second entry for Thursday.  This one's for you, A!

A's Puzzle

It's possible that I have mentioned that D and I enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles - especially during the winter months.  In case you missed that news flash, it is true.  Over the years when she visits us,  D's sister has joined us at the puzzle table and has searched church bazaars and other sales tables for puzzles to bring to our house.  Then she sits down and begins.

Well, she brought a 750-piece-doozie for us at Thanksgiving!  Whoo-ee, it was a really difficult puzzle.  D and A started working on it during that holiday with me giving it a pass as I walked by.  I knew it would be pretty hard even though A started right away.  Her approach to puzzles is to pick a color or a design element and work on that first (mine is to do the "grunt work", i.e., the borders, to get the boring stuff out of the way), and she was smart to do that on this one!  She did almost all the hummingbirds in the puzzle while she was here.

Did I ever tell you that A is very, very smart?

Did I mention that most puzzles we do are completed in 2 - 5 days?

Okay, this puzzle was started during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Today is December 14th, and the puzzle isn't finished yet!  BUT we are making headway.

Here it is as of this afternoon:

Can you see the birds?  Can you tell what constitutes the rest of the puzzle's design?  All D and I have  worked on are the leaves (not too terrible) and then have moved on to all the rest of the puzzle.  That's right.  It's been purple and pink flowers.  Each flower is made up of 6 - 10 pieces of its color, and differences in color from flower to flower is very slight.  

At this point, there is no way we would pack it in, and at this point it's actually fun as we have learned how to make it easier (anticipating certain weird puzzle piece shapes, identifying the subtle differences in color, and obviously fewer pieces to agonize over).  

When all is said and done, A, you did give us brain exercise in patience, logic, determination, analysis, and memory to mention just a few benefits!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Weighty Talk about Holiday Cards

Another day of coughing and hacking and making unpleasant noises; feel sorry for those around me!  Despite all of that, D (also hacking and making unpleasant noises) and I did manage to get a lot done today.  What we did was not earth shattering, but it is very important to us.

The important thing we did was get our holiday cards ready to go out in the mail.  Not a big deal, you think?  Well, it is when your family and friends are spread out all over the country, and few of us have the habit of regular communication.  Sometimes, these cards are the only way people hear from us.  Even though we have FaceBook and email both of which I use, neither of those are known for the personal, longer newsy communication that comes with a letter.  

And while that letter isn't terribly personal, it takes time to write and add photos.  It takes time to sign one's name instead of relying on the printed version in cards or write loving words by that printed signature, and it takes time to address envelopes by hand. That time is its own message to the receiver that we cared enough to use our time to connect with them.

And that's why we send cards, write letters, hand address, and sign our holiday cards.  It's important to us.  

So imagine how we feel when we receive your cards!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Biscotti and More Biscotti and Oops, a COLD!

The day started with the realization that I have indeed caught D's cold.  It isn't anywhere near as bad as his is, but it's a cold none the less.  Bummer!

Oh well, I was able to mix up and bake two more batches of the biscotti for the holiday party at painting.  The weather blessed me with an extra week as painting was canceled today due to snow.  Now I have four batches of biscotti which is enough to give everyone a goodly number to enjoy.

After the biscotti were finished baking and even though I felt weary, I pushed on and packed up the fall and Thanksgiving decorations that have been sitting on the dining room table for a week now.  Admittedly, I was late taking it all down to begin with, but the delay in packing it really made me feel behind the eight ball.  And you know what?  The dining room still looks awful!  The huge bin of decorations is on the dining room table; it does look neater than the pile of stuff but . . .  There is also the matter of the cooling racks of biscotti (dense with dried fruit, nuts, and white chocolate) which won't be put away tomorrow.

Then I pulled out some of our Christmas decorations and spread them throughout the downstairs- except for the dining room, of course.  By that time, I was truly feeling tired so Christmas items that live in heavier bins won't be moved and opened until D is home to do some of the heavy work.  

The highlight of my day was pulling out my first Christmas quilt made in 2007, the one with antique Christmas postcard fabric.  It's a still a favorite among all the wall hangings I've made so far.  I'd only been quilting one year, and I designed something of my own by adding those directional borders (including trying techniques I knew nothing about).  So now it is hanging in our bedroom this year where we can enjoy it again. 

Some of you have seen this already and maybe wondering why I'm showing it again.  Here's the thing, I have a quilter friend, KR, who rotates her quilts.  That way both she and her family have a chance to become reacquainted with all the lovelies she has made.  Because of our renovations, we no longer have as many places to hang my quilts, but we do have some room.  It's time for me to take a page from my friend's book because not only is it enjoyable, it also sparks new ideas.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Snow and Biscotti

Well, it looks as though we may really get some significant snow tomorrow, and it may be my fault.  You see, tomorrow is supposed to be the holiday party for our painting group, and since (as you know from reading yesterday's blog) I was away from home for most of the last three days, I spent today doing laundry AND baking.  

That's right, I was baking like mad to make sure I would have the biscotti I had promised for the party.  It wasn't until I was on my second batch that I took the time to check my email.  Ok, I wanted a break.  Anyway, that's when I found out that our painting class (and therefore, our party) has been canceled due to the pending storm.  It was the first I had heard about it.

You'll think I'm terrible, but I breathed a sigh of relief.  If I didn't get the third batch baked, the world wouldn't beat a path to my door in order to lodge a complaint.  Then I thought, darn it! We always have fun when we get together, and I already had two batches baked . . .

I admit I didn't even start the third batch.  There will be time enough for that tomorrow, and biscotti improve with age.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Special Weekend

My good friend and I took part in another Quilt Camp this past weekend, and again, I can't show any photos (even if I had taken any!) as most of us were working on secret projects for family members and/or friends.  During this time of year it is a real bonus to be able to leave our homes to go elsewhere to sew.

We were at a favorite local quilt shop, Log Cabin, where we are treated like queens and good friends.  For example, the food is very plentiful and beyond delicious, the rooms in which we sew are quite comfortable have the most important things for quilters (decent light, room to cut, ironing boards with good irons, waste baskets, and quick access to coffee and bathrooms).  We are in the company of others who share our passion, are willing to stop their work to offer advice, and encourage when one needs it.

Here's a good example of the benefits of working with others who share the passion.  Everyone makes mistake at one time or another, and I made an all-day-long mistake.  On the first day, for my current project I sewed one block and set it where I could easily see it to use a pattern for the rest of the blocks.  I sewed all day long and by evening had all my remaining blocks complete.  With the time I still had before going home I began to sew the blocks together.  That's when the sky fell on me.  

The first block (the one I used as a model for the day) was sewn incorrectly so every single one after that was also wrong!  You know what happened?  The owner of the shop came in and started un-sewing so I could get back on track faster!  

Now how special is that!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

General Report

These last two days have been spent finishing one project.  It is a small piece (unlike many of the previous projects), but there were times when it seemed to me to be too large for its purpose.  However, it is finished, and I am glad of it!

Today I spent time organizing the items I need to take with me for the weekend quilt camp.  There is a quilt I started a the beginning of November that must be ready for the quilter by the first Saturday in January.  I should be able to finish several more blocks.

Then I looked for half-finished holiday items to work on if I need a break from the big quilt. Why I was surprised at the age of some of the unfinished projects I pulled out for consideration, I don't know.  But there are several.  

I hope to have news and photos to share on Monday!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Holiday Posts

There is a problem when writing a blog that is primarily about one's art endeavors, and that problem is especially acute during the winter holidays.  It's a little less problematic but still a possible issue during other major holidays.

After all, when you think about it, a creative person who enjoys any kind of craft is usually up to her or his eyeballs making gifts for others.  How to write about the progress and or problems?  How to post photos of the gifts?  

Now, if I were of professional caliber, I would be designing lots and lots of crafts that I could post, write about, and entice my hundreds of followers to buy.  

Sigh.  I'm not that good, that energetic, or persuasive.

So here's what you can expect:

  • the occasional day or three with no posts on any subject
  • posts with no photographs
  • or worst of all?  
Posts like this one!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Further Stitching on CzQ Block

Today was spent primarily in stitching on Barbara's crazy quilt block.  It still amazes me how many hours go into one block of a crazy quilt!  I think when I start the next block (not until I finish the current one, though) I will try to keep track of the time.

Of course, that probably won't include time spent on planning, looking for inspiration, searching for just the right notions and threads or photos, but it should prove to be interesting!

The result will be entered in the little notebook I am keeping which contains detailed information about each block.  I hope my crazy quilting friends are keeping similar notebooks to pass on with their quilt (whether finished or not).

Thursday, November 30, 2017

What was Lost, Wasn't!

Nothing remarkable about today.  I ran errands that will enable me to finish a small quilt.  But when I got home, I managed to find a dozen different things that "needed" doing (not a one really did).  I caught myself wandering away from almost everything I put my hand to, but once I caught myself I decided to make some conscious decisions.  And I did!

Because I clearly wasn't in the mood or frame of mind or whatever to accomplish what ordinarily would be a no brainer, I did other things that while not urgent were important to do.  I purchased gifts for three of five "greats" and a brother and his wife.  In doing that I identified a possible thank-you gift for a friend (have to consult with D first).  One or two other gifts were either identified or purchased, too.  I'm not big on scouting through malls or stores when I don't have something specific in mind, but scrolling through the computer?  Well, that's easy - especially on the feet!

Then I turned my attention to the issue of Christmas cards.  For over ten years, I have made our cards using my photographs or paintings. D and I have already discussed what will be this year's card, but I thought I would check out what it would cost to have them printed for us.  It would make it easier for me, but it would also take away the obvious home-produced look and feel which I do like.  Anyway, I now have options.

Until I started writing this I hadn't realized that what I thought was a lost day wasn't lost at all. 

But I'd better get to work tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Crazy Quilt - Barbara

Work on the crazy quilt honoring the women in my family had stalled for some time as I think I've mentioned more than once.  However, I forced myself to get back to work on it with moderate success.  Here is the way it looked in September 2017.

Once again I have taken up my needle and have gone to work.  I had decided to embroider Barbara's VW bus "B.B.".  She loved that bus because all 6 of her children were able to fit in it and groceries as well!  How to do it?  That was a problem I had to solve before I could go on with the task I had set for myself.  Eventually I realized I couldn't do the bus justice with embroidery thread alone so I made the shape on paper, traced it onto a firm base, and covered it all with pale green fabric (the appropriate color).  Then I stitched it to the block.

Once that problem was solved, I was faced with another - how to stitch that amorphous green blob so it looked like a VW bus?  That took time to figure out.  I felt my best bet was to use a gray thread, a needle, and back-stitch the important features.  It wasn't exciting, and it wasn't pretty so it took a while for me to force myself to get it done.  That section of this block is almost completely finished and includes the VW logo in silver thread.  All I have to do now is apply Swarovski crystals for the headlights.  That won't happen until the entire block is finished, and I'm not handling it any more.

The rest of the block has also received some attention and progress is now visible.  

The vine on the right-hand side of Barb's photo now has sequin and bead flowers, the lacy heart's flowers have iridescent French-knot centers (they're white, too so not visible in this picture), the gypsy girl has more edge treatment, and there's a silver rickrack flower started in the middle of the bottom edge in this photo.  A few other ribbons and lace have been added, too.  

The vast, uncharted desert at the base of the block (not visible here) remains untouched, but the weight has been lifted from my shoulders because I have figured out what to do and how to handle that design so both top and bottom appear unified.

Whew.  It's a good thing I really enjoy embroidery!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Report on Painting

Good news on the painting front; my work needed only a few minor touches and was then called finished.  One of the few changes had to do with the paper.  It is a paper designed for use with pastels (one of the reasons for the dark color) and has a honeycomb kind of grid (which I don't like and don't understand).  What happens with my use of the pastels is that the chalk rims the raised edge of the honeycomb and leaves the center empty.  It gives an almost polka-dot effect.  

After I fixed the issues, I started a new study- the subject of which is a secret so I can't write about it or show it here.  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Busy Day

Well, as it is Monday, you all know what I did this morning.  Since D had to take the car in for a scheduled maintenance, I was up early also.  That meant the laundry was done earlier than usual - hooray!

While I thought about sewing, I knew that I had to work on my current painting.  This is a request from my daughter for our grandson.  Their adored dog was hit and killed by a car, and it's been rough as I'm sure anyone can understand.  Today I was able to bring the painting (done in watercolors and pastels) to what I hope is one day from being finished.  By the way, the paper will be cut down once it is finished as there is too much empty space, and the dog is lost in it.

Looking at it here, I'm not so sure it's as close to finished as I thought, but I'll wait and see how it fares during the critique in tomorrow's class.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Favorite Holiday

What a wonderful time Thanksgiving is! It's a holiday that has nothing to do with gifts and everything to do with family.  For that reason it is our favorite holiday.

This year we had the usual people gathered at our table.  We are a small family.  Although I now have only two brothers, there are many nieces and nephews and even more great-nieces and nephews far flung across the country.  D has two sisters and several cousins, but only one sister lives near us.  We count ourselves lucky to have five people at our Thanksgiving table.

Part of our tradition is going to a local nursery on Friday to purchase our wreath and kissing ball.  That is always fun!  David's sister A and I are usually the first through the door so we have first choice among the wreaths which are all fabulous.  The thing we both appreciate is the uniqueness of the colors used as you'll be able to see.  She and I agreed on one we thought very special:

Unfortunately, it was impossible to avoid the reflection in our storm door, but you can see how pretty the leaf is.  Here is the kissing ball hanging above the railing planter filled with our own holly.

Next year D's sister A will be retiring to Florida, and we will sorely miss her.  Sadly our numbers at the table will go down.  We will stay in touch with as many family members as possible through letters, e-cards, and phone calls with as many of our family members as possible.  The source of our festive greenery will also be gone as they are retiring from the wreath making business much to our dismay.  I hope we can find another small business that makes creative greenery.

Despite inevitable changes, Thanksgiving will still be our favorite holiday!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday "Laundry List"

It's been one of those days that doesn't offer time for hobbies.  Of course, that's not surprising given the time of year.  So basically today was the same as most Mondays for me - meaning a concentration on tasks in the house:

  • Laundry
  • Suitcase from weekend trip unpacked
  • Sheets changing (snow on the ground this morning meant flannel sheets finally went on - sigh) including changing the sheets in the guest room from summer to winter
  • Summer clothing (the last that was still out) was packed away
  • Fall/winter clothing carried from basement to 2nd floor (why does that trip seem so long when carrying weighty objects?
  • Dresser drawers rearranged with cold weather socks and sports wear
  • Basement areas tidied including vacuuming the rug in front of the washing machine & dryer (so much lint accumulates there!)
  • Last two paintings that came back from the framer last Friday were hung in the living room (I supervised as D did the work
And that's about the extent of the day.  Tomorrow I start baking and cooking; D did his part today before leaving on an overnight.  That means that after painting I'll be in the kitchen.  

This may be the final entry until after Thanksgiving as I'm sure I'll be busy making sure everything is ready for our company (and you can be sure something will be forgotten!).

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and yours!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Knitting Project

We spent the weekend in Massachusetts with some friends so we could go a concert.  What a great time we had!

However, on the ride there and back again, I was able to start a cowl for myself.  When I want to make something for someone else, I like (if I can) to make a trial run at it.  So this one will be for me. 

I can't believe that it seems to be mostly purple instead of mostly dark red!  But that doesn't matter.  What does matter is that 1. it's a very easy pattern, 2. it's quite striking, and 3. it knits up quickly.  

The pattern is by Kimberly Hamlin, and it's called "24 Hour Cowl".  I will probably use 1 to 1½ skeins (90 - 130 yards). 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Stash Purging Brilliance!

Just in case you were wondering, nothing was omitted from yesterday's entry even though it looked like it.  I had tried to do something (insert a text box) that I used to be able to do but no longer can.  Not only couldn't I do what I wanted to do, but I also could not un-do what happened when I tried!

Anyway, today I solved one of the problems I talked about yesterday.  This has to do with trying to decide how to give away/sell some fabrics in my stash that still call to me even though I don't make the same kinds of quilts I used to in which those fabrics would work well.  Actually, the solution came to me as I was drifting off to sleep last night.

It's so easy!  Remember the fabric that I said had such glorious color and would look good even when cut up?  I had three yards of it; I cut off a half-yard piece to put back in my stash.  That still leaves a respectably sized piece to make someone else very happy, and a small piece to put back in the stash for color infusion when needed.  

I feel brilliant!

Never mind how many years it has taken me to come up with this idea!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fabric "Purge"

After a morning spent doing housework types of things including a quick trip to the grocery store for cleaning materials forgotten yesterday (and, naturally enough, I forgot my half and half again!), I decided to tackle two bins of fabric. 

In October one of the items on my To Do list was sort through four bins.  I only sorted two.  This month, due to the almost-mid-month Thanksgiving celebration, I am trying to be realistic about what I can get done.  Yet, honestly, I hoped that by getting something done today, there might be a better chance of repeating this job again at the end of the month.

Purging my stash means that I try very hard to decide if I will really ever use a piece of fabric.  The more I love a particular piece, the harder being honest becomes.  For example, in one of the bins there were three pieces of dramatic prints on dark background - something I adore!  The one least dramatic I almost easily put in the No pile.  The other two? 


One of the bins contained a lot of homespun
materials that I had put aside (thanks to my best friend who started the whole thing) to make a winter/Christmas quilt.  I can't remember when I purchased the pattern or how long I've had the fabrics, but here they are.  I do believe I will make it into a double bed quilt, and my target date is some time in 2018.  What do you think, ME?

Next, in the same bin with the "North Pole" (see above!), I found the following book.  While I like Alex Anderson a lot, why on earth did I buy a book with the word "neutral" in the the title?

The book opened itself to the page you see below.  The title of the quilt pictured sounded familiar to me, but again there was no light bulb going on in my brain.  And look at the pattern!  That wasn't my style even "way back then" (whenever that was).

Finally, I found the answer!

The above is what I was making with that particular pattern, and the bin has an additional pile of oriental fabrics(three of which were used in this first block of 12 pieces plus the center piece which isn't there yet and the background).

I know I had a very elaborate design idea when I started this, but I don't remember precisely what it was (strange that my design wasn't in the book, too).  However, I do remember that it was to be called "Grandmother's China Closet".  This project started because of the teacher - another dear friend, Mardi Nile

It may have to go on my 2018 list, also!


The wonderful floral on the left is really hard for me to discard; it's so vibrant and would cut up so well (meaning that even a fragment of the design would be stunning).  On the other hand, the one on the right is a much softer palette and is very elegant.  Right now that one may become an article of clothing (think Holiday "Mardi Nile" skirt.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Scary Realization Late in the Day

Another day without photos, but it was a good day even though painting class was not on my schedule.  This morning I went to my podiatrist to help with an issue that's been plaguing me for almost a month.  She was able to take care of my foot, and I am now happily without pain.  Hurrah!!

We came home, and I had enough time to run to our local craft shop and get the thread I need to finish November's Robin Banner.  The remaining applique pieces have been stitched down, and the pinwheels have been quilted.

Then it was time to go to the luncheon for Her Treasure Box volunteers.  That was really a good time.  We all work at the store or for the charity in another capacity but only a few volunteers work in the same place at the same time.  This allowed to get to know a few others and chat with several.  And the lunch was good, too.

Home by four o'clock and back to the sudden (for me) realization that Thanksgiving is next week!!!

YIKES . . . 

Tomorrow I have to check the contents of the freezer (expiration dates may be long past), look through the refrigerator and dispose of left-overs that our eagle eyes may have missed and clean up any spills.  Once that is finished, I get to start making lists - a favorite!

Always end on a high.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Musings on Daily Chores

There is something to be said for being predictable.  It's lovely to get up in the morning and have no problem getting about the business of the day because it's what one always does on a Monday.  There's no dithering, no hemming or hawing, no "shall I sew, embroider, knit, or paint?"  One's day is laid out like a very precise road map.

Therefore, you all know exactly what I did today.


But wait!  I did add some other "chores", too.  Halloween decorations, already half down and sitting on the dining room table, were all taken down, packed in their bin, and put into storage.  Having done that (playing with a bin), we decided it would be a good time to bring home some more fabric bins for me to sort through.  They are now in the dining room.  See the logic?  Since Halloween decorations are gone, they should be replaced with another "something" to be sorted.  

Whew!  Who knew "keeping house" was so intensely regimented - replace a chore once finished with another?

I won't go on with this report of my day as it is very much like yours, I'm sure.  I was simply (and I hope, momentarily!) bemused by the way we create the logic or a map of what might ordinarily be seen as a simple progression (moving smoothly from one predetermined chore to another also predetermined chore) through our daily housekeeping.

Sort of like this entry.  When I started writing this, I had no idea where the initial faint spark of an idea might take me.  Did you enjoy the trip?  Recognize any street signs as you read?

Basically, I think our brains take us for a a ride!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

November's Robin Banner

There wasn't much writing being done last week was there!  Now I can't remember what got in the way except one night at the theater, but let's see if more is done this week.

Election Day and painting coincided, but as I reported, the most recent painting was finished.  Friday D and I took "Cypress and Olive Groves" and "Via Dell'Amore" to be framed.  

Thursday D was away for the day, and I worked on sewing.  The November bigger banner is almost finished now.  While I did some detail stitching in the leaves as well as a little around parts of the robin, I didn't have the color of threads needed to complete the robin's parts, the pinwheel blocks, and background quilting.  Of course I was at the quilt store today and totally forgot to have the banner with me so I could use it as a reminder and choose threads.  Drat!  Anyway, here it is in its almost-complete form.

The binding will be the same fabric as the brown around the pinwheels.  Tomorrow I will head out to JoAnn's to buy thread.  If I remember . . . sigh!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Painting and Crazy Quilting on Election Day

It's been a long day as we were up early in order to get D to the polls in time to get everything set up and ready to go for the day.  Once I dropped him off, I returned home to set things to rights before leaving for my day.

Painting was the first activity on my to-do list, and after a bit of additional work, my current painting was deemed finished and a success.  I was very pleased as I like the way this one came out (there are always times during every painting when I despair of it ever amounting to anything worth looking at!), but I was thrilled as this was the one D had asked me to do.  As it is for him, I will let him chose its name.

After that class, I took off to meet ME for lunch at a convenient Panera's.  Since I hadn't eaten breakfast, I ate my whole sandwich though it would have been better for me if I hadn't! Oh well, you know the saying, "After the holidays, I'll . . . "

After lunch, we headed off to be on time for the crazy quilt class.  That class is always so much fun!  Even though we were the only two there today (three with our teacher-leader), we managed to have a very good time and to get some work done.  No matter where I am when doing hand work or how much I enjoy the activity, it always takes much longer to do than I anticipate.  It will probably be at least another month before this block is worth seeing let alone before it's finished.  The fact that we took time to pour over ribbons trying to decide which ones we wanted to buy, or the fact that I shopped for a few bits and pieces of fabrics necessary to complete some small projects (and one large one!) may have had a wee bit to do with my inability to finish the small element I was working on!

There's always next month, right?

Monday, November 6, 2017

November Banner

After a fabulous weekend at a quilt retreat where I did get a lot of work done, today was a crazy day.  In addition to the usual laundry/chores/catch-up "stuff", we had our gas fireplace insert put in.  Finally!  We've talked about it for a long time.  We have a wood burning fireplace in the living room, but we haven't used it for - well, a very, very long time.  It became a chore once we purchased a cast iron stove for our family room which really heated our house, so we put a metal plate over the living room fireplace and forgot about it.  Until we discovered how far gas-inserts have come.  Now I can sit in the living room with a cup of coffee and a book, turn on the fireplace, and read- and then just - oh, joy - turn off the fireplace and walk away!

We also had the furnace man come for a general check-up.  All I had to do about that was clear out the area around the furnace - not a fun thing to do on laundry day!  But they came, did their magic, and leave.  Laundry was done - well, except for the sheets, and I was able to go upstairs and lay out the November banner.  The photo below shows the central portion of the banner.  Once again I used one of my fabrics with printed letters/words (and in this case stamps and cancellations).  I chose to use a robin instead of the rather cutesy bird that came with the pattern but kept the gorgeous maple leaf shapes with the ribbon-like stems.  As is the case with my cell phone photos, the color is dreadful; maybe I should go back to using the "regular" camera which isn't as fast/easy to use but has better color.

I really need to stop using the word "cutesy".  It's clearly dismissive and shows my prejudice against designs that are what I think of as "cute".  Baby animals, baby-talk, funny vs witty, all those are on my list.  BUT, just because they aren't my idea of interesting doesn't mean that they don't resonate with other people.  And I need to remind myself to be respectful of others.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Art Quilting Group Meets!

What a day!  Cleaners delayed my planned departure to go and meet with my art quilters group.  But I was able to use that time to organize my thoughts as to what I would realistically be able to work on once I arrived at my destination.  In addition, I had the time to pack only what was needed instead of throwing a bunch of stuff in a bag in the hopes that I would have everything essential but wind up missing at least half.

Of course, I did have more materials than I had time to use.  Nothing new there, though.  Much to my surprise, it took me the entire time to "un-sew" (the modern politically correct way to say "rip out") 24 short seam.  Whew, that sounds like a lot - and believe me, it felt like a lot!

Being a novices at being in a selfie and  in taking one, both Carol and I looked up at the "camera" I was holding while Kath, correctly, looked at the imaginary viewers.  The photo Kath's husband took turned out to be a video (not his fault, he used my cell phone unfamiliar to him).  I'll do better next time; sorry, Kath!  Notice Kath's wonderful traditional quilt behind us - she has a perfect wall for displaying her beauties!

This is the art quilters' group - small but very, very close.  I can't tell you how much I get from these women: ideas, support, encouragement, necessary nudges, and laughter - oh, the laughter!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Checklist Summary

Hmm . . . today my checklist had the following items on it (as well as a few others):

  1. do laundry
  2. make a test block of the yellow quilt
  3. have lunch with friends
  4. go to the library
  5. organize additional projects to work during the coming weekend away
  6. work on painting
and well, I don't even remember what came next.

Guess what - I did the laundry, had lunch with friends, and stopped at the library!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Cheerful Yellow Quilt

The last few days have been spent primarily in getting ready for this coming weekend when I go away on a quilting retreat. Since I don't want to spend my time there in mundane tasks - like cutting, I wanted to get my quilt all cut out before leaving home.  

The quilt I have decided to make next is primarily yellow.  First, I chose this because I've always like yellow as a wonderful foil for most other colors so years ago when solids were popular, I bought many yards of my favorite yellow and hoped inspiration would strike.  Then I saw what  KR did with that color - she made a quilt using yellow that makes my heart lift every time I see it.  

That's my inspiration but the pattern I'll be using is different.  When ME and I were doing the block-of-the month for our quilt guild, I found a neat pattern to use for the month of February.  After making changes, I named it "You're Driving Me Crazy" which I thought was appropriate for the month.  Now I am using that pattern for my yellow quilt.

But . . . in this version, I'm not adding white (except as it occurs in patterned fabrics) which has me a bit nervous. I wonder if the quilt needs the white as a break but couldn't find a way to add it .  

Oh well, it's a wait and see if it works. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Well, here's the confession:  I didn't "stick with it" and use the fabric in my stash for the border.  The mental image of the quilt with the dark blue/green border haunted my dreams, and I simply couldn't do it.  After my haircut, I dashed off to the local quilt store and bought 2.5 yds of a very, very pale blue-ish green batik.  The color appears in swirls of dots giving a snow-like effect (though not apparent from a distance).  Cool!

Home I hustled, sewed all the main quilt strips together, figured the measurements for the border which would include a block embedded in each side, and finally, sewed the borders. Then it was time to add borders to quilt top.  Hurray!

The border for the end of the quilt was sewed on and it looked  . . . too short!  Cut at 12",  I thought it would work with the new-style, thicker mattress, but it didn't.  However, I finally realized why (which means - if I remember it! - I won't make this mistake again).  At no time did I even begin to consider the bulk of blankets on the:

  1. top of the mattress
  2. edge of the mattress
  3. under the mattress
It's just enough that the border hung to the point where the top mattress meets the bottom but not below that meeting point.  I want it to cover that sometimes messy area.  

Back to the drawing board.  More measuring; did I have enough of any material left?  Adding another new material really was something to avoid.  While there wasn't enough of the white-with-snowflakes left for the borders, there was enough for strips!   By the time, the math was done and checked, rechecked, and then cut, I ran out of steam. 

Tomorrow, the strips will be added to the borders, and the quilt will be ready for the quilter.  Though not all assembled, here's yesterday's  picture of the quilt top on the guest bed (double bed size not the king size for which I'm making it).

I fell in love with cheerful folk art design back in the 70's, and I still love it.  In this shot, you can see the designs pretty well (as well as the dark green used in some of the frames).

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Almost Finished and a Dilemma

Despite a number of interruptions, today was a great day because I was able to almost finish a king-size quilt.  Well, maybe that's a bit too optimistic.  If I can keep a similar schedule over the next two days, the quilt will be ready to go to the quilter.  All blocks have been made, all rows have been sewn in their individual strips, and some of the strips have been sewn together.

Whew!  That only leaves sewing the rest of the strips together and tackling the border.  I have a sneaking feeling that the design for the drop/border (the portion of the quilt that hangs down the sides and bottom of a bed) that is in my head might not work out. That being the most likely scenario, I have to come up with a new idea asap.  

That may not be as hard as I think it will be (I hope!).  After all, I can just take a chunk of fabric and slap it on the sides and bottom.  Humph! not a look I'm fond of.  I like having some of the blocks, or colors, or motifs from the main portion of the quilt (the part that covers the mattress) continue into the drop/border.  In this case the fabric I chose for the border does appear in some of the blocks, but it just isn't the color I would really like (it's a dark blue-ish green and I'd prefer a light greenish blue).

Ah well, that fabric was in my stash specifically for this quilt, it will do, and I don't want to buy something new as I'm still trying to stick to my resolve to use my stash!  So I will stick with it.

I may actually find that my choice was the right one after all!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Painting Day

While at painting today, I made the final adjustments to "Via Dell'Amore".  Now it's up to D to decide if it is frame-worthy or not.  Poor man, he has to make all the hard decisions!

As soon as that was done, it was back to "Cypress Way" (working title only at this point).  It had been a while since I had worked on it, but I had been thinking about it.  I had a pretty good idea as to how I wanted the combination of those two photographs to work, but imagining it, doing it, and then liking the outcome  . . . well, the only way to solve those issues was to paint.

I painted right up to the last minute in class.  Fortunately, there was enough time for Sharon to point out a perspective issue that I had completely overlooked!  On the way home, I thought about how I might go about solving that problem and came up with a possible solution.

Surprisingly enough, when I got home (after a quick stop at the grocery store), I found myself both hungry for lunch (no, that wasn't a surprise) and reluctant to spend the rest of the day sewing which had been my plan.  Maybe that was because I had to "un-sew" three blocks on which I had made a bone-headed math error, or maybe it was because I needed a break from that project. 

Here is last week's version of today's painting:

No matter what the issue was, I ate my lunch and decided to paint some more.  I wanted to add smaller-than-they-should-be cypress trees today as place holders.  Those trees were what D wanted to have in a painting, and I wanted to be sure I didn't forget to put them in (they were the reason for having to combine two reference photos after all!).   The small size is because I can always make the trees bigger, but it would be pretty hard to make them smaller!

As usual, the color is anemic, but at least you get a sense of where this is going.  I hope!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Two Sketches and a Painting

It was an interesting and busy weekend.  Although I did some sewing, it's the painting that took the greater part of my time.  

It was teaching time for me on Saturday.  The number of students I had been told to expect was uncomfortably high, and since I planned to take the class to an outdoor site for painting, I was concerned about being able to give each student the attention she deserved.  Then the weather worried me.  It had been quite cold, off-and-on cloudy, rain was possible so there was something else to fret about.

As it turned out only one student showed up, the weather was spectacular, and the trees were dressed in their autumn best.  Because there was only one student, I painted also - partly as an example and of course, because I love fall trees.  We had only two hours, but my student had a finished work at the end which made it a success!  I did not, but I had a great time anyway.

This is the view I had of trees with a wonderful stone wall behind them.  I may continue to work on this (I have photos to work from), but I'm not sure.  There was another view in the park that I preferred, but Student chose this one

Since I am showing sketches, the one below was an experiment.  I had used watercolor pencils before but wasn't a fan.  This time, I thought I would combine the pencils with regular watercolor paints.  I also used a calendar photo from some I had used with an earlier landscape class (rainy weather so we worked inside from photos).  It was a super fast sketch, and it was successful experiment.  Now I can see how to use the pencils (building shapes, rocks) with the paints (almost everything).  The pencil line can be drawn out with water, the hard line that usually is left becomes definition (left hand side of wonky lighthouse, visible lines in house, and hard edges on some rocks).

"Via Dell'Amore" now has the lantern and street name. Of course, after looking at it in the photo, I realized two things: street "sign" is too straight, open window on the right is not finished.  I think I can minimize the problem with the sign, and the window is a quick paint.

Now on to the quilting that has to be completed soon!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Nothing to Report

Well, let's see:

  1. went for a walk
  2. drove D to his meeting
  3. had nails done
  4. returned home and decided to take the day off
  5. watched DVR'd shows and worked on wool work

And that's it.  Nothing worth reporting.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Nearly Finished

The work I did Sunday on the painting started last week didn't make me terribly happy.  I didn't even take a photo of the work I did.  However, I was able not only to realize that it might be able to be salvaged but also to be able to analyze what might fix it.

When Sharon asked me how I felt about it, I was able to tell her what I thought was wrong and what I would do to fix it.  Did we agree on all points?  No, of course not.  Was I completely right in my assessments?  No, of course not.  However, I was right on some points, and her opinion was very helpful so I got to work.

By the end of class, I had a painting that needs only two details added before it will be finished.  Here is Via Dell' Amore:

Now it's time to get back to the Italian landscape with cedars.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Laundry and Baking Day

Again a day with no photographs and no quilting or painting to talk about.  As you know, it was laundry day, and the good news there is it's all done.  But, as you may have done in your own home, light weight sheets are still on the bed. It still isn't reliably cold enough for flannel (sheets or nightgowns!).

Originally, I had thought that it might be the day to take down the summer clothes and bring up the fall/winter garments.  But that, too, was left undone.  One day the temperature is up, and the next, it's down.  It seems to me that most days I am wearing a combination of spring tops with a sweater over it.  That sweater is taken off and put back on several times throughout the day, too.

While doing laundry, I spent time-between-loads doing my first "cooler weather" baking.  Today was the day for trying new recipes.  I made an apple bread pudding which looks very good.  The second "new dish" was Sweet Potato Ginger scones.  It sounded so good!  It makes quite a few scones which turned out to be a good thing.  The first batch did not rise at all.  Taste-wise it was merely OK.  So I added more liquid as I found that first batch to be very dry with way too much flour for the liquid called for.  That second and final batch looks better, but . . . I can't taste the sweet potato and the ginger is faint at best.

Oh well, it was a change of pace day which was fun.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Quiet Weekend

Was it a busy weekend?  Hmmm, I can't really remember!  Wow, that's scary, but I guess it simply indicates that it was busy with normal and non-memorable activities .  

So on Saturday here's what was done: morning walk, tidying, cooking/preparing meals, entertaining a guest for lunch (before he and D went up to the computer room to work on the bonsai treasurer's reports), and making another set of indigo pillow cases.

And Sunday?  morning walk (I think I'm ready to purchase some two pound weights). a special Sunday breakfast consisting of gingerbread pancakes, grocery shopping for basics and fall baking, watering plants, painting, trying to select (without success)  fabrics for a new project, and that's about it!

All in all it was very uneventful but quietly enjoyable weekend.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Pillow Shams

Today I made a flying visit to a quilt guild meeting.  Luckily I remembered to take my donation of a boy's quilt in and drop it off.  Since D needed the car to get to his meeting before I'd be home if I stayed for all of the guild news, I showed KG my quilt made from her pattern.  While we both like it as a very modern and intriguing pattern, it didn't work as well as hoped when using ombres (fabrics shading from vivid to pale).  Having done what I really needed to do, I left and returned home.

D went off to do what he needed to do, and I decided to get the pillow shams project finished.  D's 50th Reunion Quilt is on our bed now, and I found that its intense indigo color would really not look good with the older periwinkle shams.

What really surprised me was that the project was finished before supper!  My surprise was due to it being my own pattern, and I wanted a tight fit.  That meant measuring non-rigid surfaces (pillows are quite squishy) and re-cutting when things weren't quite right.  

Here's one of the two identical shams:

You'll see the central panel features Mt. Fuji.  While it may not have anything to do with D's reunion, both the indigo color and the Asian motifs are used in the quilt as well. And, of course, the shams are a very visible reminder of our trip to the Orient.  

For those reasons, these rather simple shams please me very much.