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!