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.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Yesterday evening we went to see a performance of The Color Purple, and by the time we got home, it was too late to write.  If I had written, I would have mentioned that I moved this week's "garment day"to Thursday because I had to bind a quilt so I could show it at Friday's guild meeting.  Of course, that meant that "garment day" was today, and the report on that is also very good.  D's second shirt is almost finished.  It's even possible that I will be able to finish the handwork tomorrow night.

All that in one paragraph with no photos - whew!

So here are some pictures of our fall garden on a gray day this week.  I love the way the morning glories have grown up into the butternut tree which is about 20 ft high.

This is the canopy of the butternut complete with morning glory blossoms.

Morning glories abound in our garden.

The sedum with a few lingering marigolds.

What a bonus the warm weather this fall has given us!


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

When Life Hands you Lemons . . . .

When I was setting up at painting, I wasn't expecting to have any problems with materials.  I had checked my bag last night to be sure I had my painting, paints, brushes, photos, and other materials that make painting possible.  You know what happens when you think everything is going your way?  That's right.  All of a sudden it isn't, and all you have is a bag of lemons.

While I had checked to be sure I had the folder with my photographs, I didn't check to be sure that the two necessary shots were in the folder.  One was there; one wasn't.  It's like trying to walk three miles with only one shoe.  It could be done, but it wouldn't be any fun!  So I decided I wouldn't even try to work on the Italian landscape.

Instead, I turned my attention to a subject for which I definitely needed and had with me only one photo.  It was also a photo that I took only because I loved the name of the street.  Later I discovered that the picture might be worth a painting.   Of course, I hadn't brought any paper, but Sharon gladly gave me some (more on that paper later).

And so I started a new painting; this one of Via Dell'Amore in Pienza:

Once again you are looking at a painting so pale it's hard to tell what it is.  You may be able to tell that there is a stone wall on the left with greenery above it, the road leads to an open archway and building.  There is another building on the right, but it's only barely indicated at this point.

The paper I was given was a challenge from Sharon.  It's called "Schism" (that's what it sounds like, but I doubt it's spelled the same way as the noun meaning "a split or division between two opposing views".  It has a rough surface which I really love, but the properties are quite different from other rough papers I've used.  It seems to suck up the wet watercolor paint like a blotter but quickly and it spreads quite a bit!  Other papers with which I am familiar either allow the water to sit on the surface for a bit before soaking in or soak in but with minimal spread.  

I say that I think it was a challenge because that's what a good teacher does.  She tries to stretch her students abilities by facing them with something new.  It makes the student grow in experience, and even if the experience doesn't pan out, learning has occurred.

I think I'm going to have lemonade when all is said and done!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Decisions Can Be Hard to Make

Today was a holiday, and I did think about all workers who were enjoying a special day, a three day weekend!  For us it was another day of relative freedom.  After all, it was laundry day!

Fortunately that is a job I don't mind doing. I get a certain amount of pleasure in the routine.  It's routine that is allowed by the freedom of retirement.  There must be some irony there somewhere.  Anyway, once that job was done, I was finally able to find the time to set up our Halloween decorations.  It makes me happy to put up these cheerful items so it certainly wasn't a chore.

After lunch the difficult chore began.  On my list of projects to complete this month, I repeated one from last month - the sorting through of bins of fabric.  Fondling fabric is almost always fun, but today wasn't quite the same.  What I am trying to do, is sort out fabrics that I no longer think I will use in this lifetime. 

Sound easy?  For most of the fabrics it's an easy yes or no, keep or not.  But every now and then I come across one that still sings to me, one that I look at and still love.  Today I came across fabrics (notice the plural?) that were to have been used for a particular quilt pattern.  Every one of those fabrics was beautiful and each one was lovely in combination with the others.  Even though I knew the colors wouldn't work in this house, I don't usually allow that to "color" my thinking (sorry, I couldn't resist!).  The majority of those fabrics were also in the traditional/reproduction style - which normally I use in very small doses.  It's just not what I would use for an entire piece.  

But oh, they are lovely!

What to do?  

After lengthy consideration, I put the bundle back.  I'll make the decision another day.  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Two New Works in Progress

Last week the winter fabrics I squirreled away several years ago were pulled out of the bin with the pattern, my notes, and sketches for pattern alterations (to suit the fabric better).  The plan is to have it ready for professional quilting the beginning of November, and that means that I have to keep working on it.  Right now I am thinking about 33 - 36 very simple blocks; thirty for the main portion and at least three for the borders.  

Here's what some of the blocks look like:

The borders consist of two fabric frames made from several different fabrics - just enough to add color interest.  The focal fabric is cut to try and make different scenes, and the two orientations help give the illusion of more than are available.  It has a "country look" I've always liked, and it portrays a happy winter time not the frozen waste land that so many of think of when winter comes around each year.

The second project is the wool work shown below - well, it is the beginning of another wool mini-banner.  The group of these banners I had purchased more recently but had done only one immediately.  My intention is to finish the ones I bought (I didn't buy all twelve of them as some of the patterns didn't resonate with me), and then to take on another hand-work project that has been languishing. 

Anyway, the various wool pieces mark what will be the edges of the piece (the charcoal is the background and is closer to black than it appears in the photo).  Now that I look at it again, I don't like the top row.  The way I laid it out, the pieces at the top form a tiny triangle where they meet along the bottom.  I don't like that and will have to see if I can rearrange them without creating more problems.

The winter quilt is on my October list, but the wool work isn't.  Don't worry; it will be !added

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Modest Achievement

Even with the best will in the world, there are days that simply slip by.  One may be busy, but it isn't necessarily the kind of busy that enables one to cross things off one's to-do list!  

Wednesday is "Garment day", and I had hoped to finish D's second shirt today, but there were too many other household chores that needed doing.  Some headway was made however; I had enough time to sew on the shirt cuffs.

Even something this small is a step forward.

Who knows what excitement tomorrow may bring!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

First Tuesday of the Month

First Tuesday means that I have fun with both of my passions.  First I have painting class, then lunch with best friend, and finally she and I go off to a class on crazy quilting.  That's three things, isn't it - ha, never said math was either a passion or a strength!

So here's today's work on the combination painting I am doing at D's request.  If you remember, he wanted a painting with the Italian cedars, and I decided to combine it with Montalcino, am Italian hill town.  Last week, showing the first day of work was frustrating for both you and me because it was so very hard to photograph and therefore for you to see.  Last week the painting was merely a watercolor sketch, the very beginning.  

Looking at what is shown below, you are within your rights to feel that not much progress was made today.  In one sense you'd be right.  I worked on only the top half of the landscape, and this week's work is more detailed (okay, slightly more detailed).  I do try to paint all the way across a painting instead of concentrate in one spot because it's all too easy to lose sight of the the whole and what you want to do.  It's also hard to pick up later on and try to remember what one did and/or why or to mix the same paints.  And of course, if one spends too much time on one area, it can quickly become overworked.

So after all that "more-than-you-wanted-to-know", here's what I did today:

As usual, the color on the photo is awful . . . but at least you can see it!

Nothing worth talking about when it comes to the crazy quilt block I worked on, but well, maybe next month.  And my lunch with BF?  That is Top Secret between just the two of us!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Laundry Day Plus

Since today was laundry day, sheets had to be changed.  That gave me the perfect time also to change the quilt on the bed.  While I still have a long way to go to make my dream of a different quilt for every month, we now have three (only nine to go!).  So the pretty summer quilt was pulled off the bed and D's Reunion Quilt went on. 

Of course, that meant that now I want some new pillowcases and definitely new shams for the decorative-but-full-size pillows.  Yesterday I started one set of pillowcases but made a critical error in cutting.  I measured incorrectly so the cases were too short.  Ugh.  I wound up piecing them which is not the best thing to do, but since I didn't have enough fabric to start all over and I love what I had, well, piecing was it.  Now I did make an error, but I also hadn't realized that our new pillows are longer than the old ones by about 2 inches!  Ah well, these just the first for this quilt, and they are now a model on both a how not as well as a how to for the next sets.  

While the shams were started too, since they are a design-as-I-go, I didn't have time to complete them. They're being counted as part of my October list, they will be in use by the end of the month.

I took a break from laundry and sewing in the afternoon and went outside.  The summer annuals in the big pot, near the front porch, and in the porch railing pot were ready to be pulled and tossed so I did.  That gave me room for the fall gourds.  Here's how the porch pot looks now (wish the stem on the mini-pumpkin weren't so straight, but it is and rolling it on its side makes it too unstable) :

I also played with the "pop-out" feature on my phone's camera.  That's why the photo below looks as it does.  Experimentation taught me that it doesn't work for every photo and that one has to really think about the composition before using it.  However in the photo below, the pop-out section works as a stand alone composition and the rest of the photo works as a relatively non-intrusive background.  Oh well, the beautiful white chrysanthemum S-i-L "A" gave me really pop!

Laundry day put a bit of a crimp in my plans for today, but still things were started, things were learned, and some were completed so I feel it was another successful day.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

More Halloween Fun

I am really enjoying the monthly list (you have my permission to get on my case when I complain!) because I feel impelled to get work done.  Have I ever mentioned that I love lists?  Yes, I'm sure!  Were my hand/wool projects on my September list?  No, but having to get the assigned-by-list materials ready made me look for whatever missing pieces I needed to complete the project and that looking made me find some fun things.

Now that they are finished, here are two of them. The first one is a very small wool "banner".  It's a pattern to which I added the ghosts (buttons) and the ground on which the pumpkin is resting.  Unfortunately, to me the so-called ground wound up looking more like a basket than any field, but I can change that .  For this year, it will remain this way.

The second one is another dish towel (remember the two ghost towels I embroidered for our daughter?).  This one is a witch, and I had fun with her, too!  However, for everyone out there who might want to do this kind of embroidery on something like a towel, remember that it means a lot of knots!

Whatever project/s you're working on, I wish you as much fun as I had!