Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Little Decorating

Every year I plan to decorate for the holidays, brighten things up a little, and I usually don't. This year, though, I'm home most days and I put the decorating on my list of goals. Of course, February seems like a red month, both because of Valentine's Day and because a little red chirks up the gray days.

When I looked through my things I found that I didn't have many red things, so yesterday I worked on a couple of quick items. The little table runner at the top is just a little larger than place mat size and gave me some practice in cutting and piecing curves. Sometimes I just forget about cutting without a ruler.

Then there was the potholder below, which is a January Block of the Month from Craftsy. Craftsy has some online classes, and the Block of the Month is free - if you're interested, check it out. I have to admit that I didn't like this block just because it isn't my style, but with lots of quilting I was happier with it.

Some time during the past year I put together the little quilt below from paper pieced blocks I'd done years ago.

And that should get it, along with a wreath with red berries for the front door.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Artful Mending

Yesterday, at my house, Nora was wearing a tee shirt from Aunts Sarah and Winnie, made from organic cotton. Petagonia. New. Especially nice.

And it just so happened that Aaron got angry when he had a scissors in his hand (a little scissors from the art box) and snipped a hole in the back. Maybe the real picture was his look of horror when he realized what he'd done. Nevertheless, there was a time out invoked.

I couldn't face sending Nora home with a hole in her shirt, so I asked her to choose a fabric for a bird from the huge scrap tote. A few minutes later she came back with a second fabric, saying that just one bird would be lonely. Below you'll see the new back of her shirt, which will live on to be worn other days.

The picture is pretty true to size. It wasn't a very big snip.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

No More Help

This morning Nora told me that she doesn't need help with the sewing machine any more. That she gets it. And this is true, she does. She will need a little help when she sews with a machine that doesn't have a "scissors" feature and a "foot pedal lowers the presser foot" feature, but for now she's on her own. No more hovering on my part.

Here's her latest art quilt. I'm one proud grandma.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hard to Tell

In the January grayness, it's very hard to tell just what color my little quilt is now. Not as red as I wanted but not orange either. Maybe that's part of metamorphosis, not being quite sure of the outcome. Will the tomato be large or medium-sized? Will the butterfly have black ridges? Not to mention the uncertainty of how life might unfold.

I'm thinking of quilting a piece of the fabric in a totally different manner, then cutting out circles in both pieces and exchanging them in the large quilt. I'm pretty sure that's what's going to happen next.

Yesterday I finished my 20th walking workout of the month, which was my goal, with a minimum of thirty minutes each. Sometimes I walked outside, sometimes I followed a Leslie Sansome DVD. Some of those workouts were pretty darn wimpy on my part, but not all. On to February, and I'm allowing myself to roll over extra January workouts into February since it's a short month. Ten thirty minute minimum and ten forty-five minute minimum. With the DVD's, 45 minutes translates to a three-mile walk.

Actually, all my January mini-goals are finished or in process for the ones that are ongoing. I'm happy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Journal Quilt Four

A couple of nights ago I sat with a friend at a restaurant table facing the Ohio River. We went early, since I hoped to snag just such a table, and were able to watch the evening come in as we took our time over appetizers, then the entre. We admired the skyline and the church 'way up on the hill. As it started to get dark, a barge drifted by. So, therefore, this journal quilt. The bridge, one of several connecting Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, is affectionately known as the Big Mac Bridge.

Earlier this morning, before I started work on this little quilt, I stitched in pleats for the next phase of the metamorphosis quilt and it is resting in the dye. Orange, not purple, like I planned. As I stitched, I realized that I wanted warmth and changed my plans.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


You've may have heard of Twelve by Twelve, the art quilt group who started working together several years ago, each member separately making art quilts with a common theme, then having a reveal at a specified date. Their work is fascinating, and they've published a book and keep a blog. They will have an exhibit at the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati this spring and that's the exhibit I'm looking forward to the most.

I've joined a small online group designed to play along this year and am considering the first theme, metamorphosis. I'm a little intimidated by the process and simultaneously having trouble picturing how this should look for me. With the deadline coming up in February, I've decided to just start and see where I end up.

There are the usual suspects in nature relating to this theme, but I'm starting with the metamorphosis of the fabric and thinking about the life changes that can happen with women. Toward that end, my first step, started last night, was shibori dyeing a plain piece of muslin, sewing in a series of pleats and not submerging the entire fabric for some varigation. My dried piece looks just like I wanted it to. First deep breath.

For phase two, this afternoon, I'll be sewing in more pleats, this time curving upward on the fabric instead of horizontally. When I dye, I'll want enough tint, maybe in light purple, yes, certainly in purple, to cover almost all of the white and deepen the red just a little. More varigation. And then, we'll see.

In between picking out stitches that held down the pleats, I'm making a casserole with mashed potatoes and kale. I don't know why getting a bag of kale seemed like a good idea, when I couldn't find the recipe that called for it, but it did. The substitute recipe, with the mashed potatoes, reminds me of a similar one in More With Less, a Mennonite cookbook, that uses spinach. I really like that one, so I'm hopeful that I'll like this too.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Puzzle Quilt

This is my interpretation of the Puzzle quilt in Quilter's Playtime. I wanted blues so it could hang in the newly painted bathroom. Because of the curvy border, I did a pillowcase finish - and one of the advantages is that it only takes a few minutes to finish.

I'm pretty darn happy with my curvy seams. Nice and flat. If you're wondering about the little block in the center, second row from the top, it's James of the Thomas trains. Just so happens that (1) his background was the right color and (2) Aaron loves the Thomas trains.

Picture the painted background much more blue than gray and add that saturation to the quilt. The colors are more dull that in real life - the quilt is pretty lively. 14" x 13"

I'm pretty excited, I just ordered a Smash Journal from Amazon. With only one page to go in my art journal, I've been looking for my next journal. From what I can tell, this is sort of like anti-scrapbooking. It comes with a combination pen/glue stick and you can add various things by gluing them down, then smashing the journal together and putting a band around it. Just my kind of thing, I've been noticing that I'm adding more and more little cards or ribbons or fabric bits. My only concern is that the pages are thick enough for watercolors.


Starting with admiring the the differences between my front-yard pumpkin and my neighbor's gold-sprayed ones, now gone, this pumpkin has generated grandkid conversation. "It looks smaller now." "It feels hard." "It has ice on it today." My hope, of course, is for nature to take its course and pumpkin vines to appear in the summer and a new pumpkin in the fall. A complete nature series. The little green plant to the right is a pansy, my favorite flower because it's so resiliant.

It makes me happy that the art box has become one of the go-to items when the kids come. Having an art box was one of my easy New Year's goals last year. It has paper, crayons, punches, wavy and regular scissors, stickers, the usual suspects, a whole lot of them. Nora decided yesterday to make a book. Aaron's usual fave is the regular punch, which transforms him into a train conductor. I love those moments when the imagination kicks in, it only takes a second.

Here's Nora, not long out of bed, admiring the stapler's strike plate that she decided looks like a face. It truly does - take a look at yours.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baby Quilt

For January's baby quilt, the group is doing the Disappearing Nine Patch pattern, which starts out with nine patch blocks, then morphs into something else. There are numerous web sites describing the process if you're interested. This is my result, although there are numerous ways to put the blocks together. I was able to piece the blocks during our sewing session, they go together so quickly.

I like to put together my quilt sandwiches using 505 temporary basting spray or Sulky KK2000. This time I used the Sulky because that's what I had. I put the sandwich together, then went to work out and probably did something else too. When I came back to start quilting, I quickly realized that the spray had lost its tackiness, just that fast. There was some ripping out involved. So, don't do what I did, put in a few well-placed rows of quilting right after spraying.

Now, about labels. I was making labels on my embroidery machine, which was nice, but then I noticed that some people were "labeling" their quilts with a permanent fabric marker. Hmmm, much quicker, and no different than I'd do with an art quilt. I'm going to do that from now on.

Freezing rain is expected tonight, and tomorrow is a work day for me. We'll see how that works out. Just last night I dreamed that I was driving down the interstate when my car started to skid, then it corrected itself and went on. In fact, it's supposed to do that, but I doubt the dream was about the mechanical feature of my car.

I also dreamed that my friend, who is expecting a boy, had a little girl. And two nights ago I had one of those dreams in which I was trying to get to class, late, and was running but getting nowhere fast. When I finally got to class, the professor asked for my assignment, which was a whole binder, and of course I didn't have it.

Perhaps my life is off course and I'm unprepared and not proceeding in a timely manner. And I'm correcting that, perhaps.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Didn't Forget

For Sarah's last birthday, in May, she asked for a string of flags, like Tibetan prayer flags, in a bicycle theme. She may think I forgot, and I hope that I got her something else, but I didn't forget, just never got it all together. Once I get the fabrics together, it will be an easy project.

She brought me a chain ring, which will make a good sun print, when there's sun. The discharged piece, in aqua, is too light but I'll do something similar in a darker piece. And I've found some printed fabrics with bicycles, or in patterns that remind me of bicycles. The screenprinted towel is by Brandi Powell on etsy.

So, Sarah, don't give up hope, your flags will be coming. I'm thinking of ten flags, does that sound about right?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Color Palette Challenge January

I just finished the quilt for Vicki and Judy's January Color Palette Challenge. I have to admit that these aren't colors I would have put together and I also have to admit that I love them. Exactly why I was so excited about taking part in this challenge.

I cut fabrics to make a jelly roll and did the jelly roll race piecing. I had it mind to use it as a worship banner for January, and that's why I went for the fast put-together. Even so, my best laid plans didn't work out and instead I hung an antique quilt in winter colors.

All this is just as well because this will now be used for the church communion table at Mennonite Arts Weekend. It will have a white and elegant ceramic piece on top and will probably go on the table on an angle so some of the piecing shows. I think the simplicity of the pattern will really show off the ceramic piece. Sometimes things just work out as they should.

And then, on February 12, I can still hang this as a banner. It's approx 3' x 6'.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Maybe Tomorrow

Maybe tomorrow, almost certainly tomorrow, we'll look at the top side of this quilt.

Only the binding to go, and it's already cut out. The quilt is for the Color Pallette Challege for January, and other things, too. I love the 50-wt Aurifil thread for this kind of organic quilting, done with the walking foot and feed teeth up. Every line goes in the opposite direction of the line before, keeping the edges nice and straight.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Journal Quilt Three

Ok, I know it's not time for another journal quilt yet, but there's a reason. This month in baby quilt group we're working on a pattern called Disappearing Nine Patch. The sewing meeting is tomorrow and I wanted to have an idea of how it would work out.

And now, I do, although there are several things to ignore in this tiny quilt, starting with the green block in the middle that's too big. I cut wrong when I was trying to trim down the block to get it to 8." Then there's the fact the block looks crooked, but that's just my photography. It is, in fact, square. Honest.

Then there's the quilting. Sigh. I tried to free motion using the "headbands" design and it didn't go well. I think, though, that I'm starting to get it. Once I get it, I can start working on making the stitches even. I'm trying to tell myself that my stippling was pretty bad in the beginning too - I know it was. If I practice, and practice, I can do this.

I'm picturing my last little quilt of the year, # 52, with beautiful free motion quilting, totally elegant. Optimism. "Even if I knew that the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree." Martin Luthur King.

And one more on King's birthday: "The time is always right to do what is right."

Journal Quilt Two

I picked up this book at the library in the new book section, pretty excited to see a new quilt book. Then my friend Connie H. brought a copy to lunch on Monday. It's a wonderful resource book and, as the author says in the introduction, "you won't find a Bow Tie block in the bunch."

I tried a variation of the Pogo Stick block on page 142. Each of the blocks has instructions for a 12" block and I loosely adapted this one for my 8" format. Then I tried the Spiral Flower Fill from the July 11 issue of Machine Quilted unlimited.

Not so good on the quilting, but I can see that one of the values of the little journal quilts is just trying different things. I'm trying to decide - do I really need another quilting book. I think I do.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Carrye's Quilt

My friend Carrye has a quilt in the local Smithsonian Journey Stories exhibit at the Fort Thomas Mess Hall. Both the exhibit and the building are quite cool - more about those later, but today let's look at Carrye's quilt. She's made lots of wonderful things, but this is one of my favorites.

It's called Primary Carrye and is made from a drawing she made of herself when she was in first grade. And somehow, she still has that drawing. Imagine that, she still has it.

And it fits in so well with the "journeys" concept since it represents early days in her life journey. Most of the quilts were more traditional, and it was good to see an art quilt among them. Yay, Carrye!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Finished Now

During the holiday season, when I was trying to match quilt fabrics, I kept pulling out a piece of blue, thinking "this is just right." The first time this happened I was surprised to find that the blue was part of an unfinished table runner.

The attached tag said Husqvarna Viking Embroidery Club 145, and I vaguely remembered making it, or starting to make it, as a work project. It was originally supposed to be a bag, I think, and I simplified it to a table runner but still didn't manage to get it all quilted. The embroidery was all finished, so I took it to work when it needed to be there, then later brought it home to finish. Sometime. When I checked, the current Embroidery Club is 173, and they come out once a month, so that gives you an idea that "sometime" started a while ago.

The hand dyed squares were quilted, and part of the blue, so lots of blue stippling later, it's finished. I've been thinking about a snowflake table runner for January, but this will let me get the Christmas tree runner put away.

I always enjoy finding a project with hours already put into it, especially when it's a pretty one and easily completed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Journal Quilt One

Journal Quilt for January 7, inspired by watching Nora so enjoy her DQ cone. The background is left-overs from the sashing of the quilt I'm currently working on.

And, how long has it been since I've done ANY free motion? Weeks, I'm realizing. In the weeks before Christmas I was doing primarily sewing and embroidery, no free motion at all. And in the weeks before that, a worship banner and baby quilts, once again no free motion. The last time I remember this kind of quilting was in the weeks before the CQAFA Nature Center Show, and that was in October.

This may be one of the gifts of the journal project, getting me back, in small ways, to those things I love.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lily and Milo

Note to Sarah and Winnie, owners of Lily the cat and Milo the dog:

I'm not sure how Lucy your dog dog fits into this book series, but I suspect that she might be the author, writing under a pseudonym.

This afternoon I finally got calendars for the year, including a weekly planner. I really love The Sacred Journey: Daily Journal for Your Soul, but it won't be sent to me until around February 1. I've tried just keeping a list of dates, but I need the visual pages to make sense of it all and I was acting stupid about dates. I hate acting stupid.

I planned to come home and cancel Sacred Journey, but I just couldn't do it. It has lovely pages for notes and goals and it has various symbols and explanations. Lots of room for writing or jotting recipes. And it's been reduced $4 more. I'll use the one I got today in the meantime, then use it for something else. Grocery lists, maybe. Lots of ideas for pretty art quilts. This will work.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Great Day

All during December, when my library was closed for renovation, Aaron asked about it. Was it open yet? Would the trains still be there? Was the gerbil coming back?

And today, with Nora at Aunt Tina's, he asked one more time, and yes, it's open now.

The train table was back, in a different location, and the trains were new. The gerbil didn't come back, but two white mice were in the aquarium.

And, oh joy, there is a new Lego table. Aaron stayed for almost three hours, and at the end of the time, playing Lego's, was happily singing in that way kids do when they're totally engrossed and pleased with their world.

Then there was the obligatory running-down-the-hill-beside-the-parking-lot for several minutes.

And the day got even better when his mom and dad came back from Vegas. Steph called when they were in the neighborhood and both kids were screaming at the window, watching for the car to come around the corner. Absolute happiness.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tired Tonight

Really tired tonight after a work day, then a delightful evening of playing dog and train conductor. Planning a lovely sleep with a little guy and a Sponge Bob night light that shines on the ceiling. And wondering, what is it about this little boy and his mechanical abiity. I can do something and he focuses, then he's got it. Is this just what little boys do? Is there really a difference between boys and girls? At age four?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Day Three

Last night came the hand-off - Aunt Tina has the kids for two days. Then tomorrow night after work, I'll pick up Aaron and Nora will stay with Tina. Both kids are so well behaved in the only-child role. The only-child scenerio was scheduled to begin earlier in the day, but tomorrow is one of my Saturdays to work this month.

I was happy to relinquish my role, and yet today, I missed those kids.

Yesterday after school (Nora's school, Aaron was still in his) Nora and I took the bedspread to the laundromat. The bedspread was a casualty of the sickness earlier in the week. Nora was happy to show me to laundromat ropes since Steph had taken her once when they were temporarily between washers. How to get change. How to put in the quarters. The joy of the machine that dispenses temporary tattoos.

Then we stopped at the DQ before picking up Aaron. Nora chose a vanilla cone and quickly entered the cone zone, feeling the texture with her lips, swirling the ice cream with her tongue. She was all happy and dreamy and contemplated the curl on the top and the cone on the bottom. She became so relaxed.

I really, really, really wished that I'd kept up with technology and had a camera phone. Soon.

We picked up Aaron and he gave one of his new teachers a quick hug. She's a young and pretty brunette, just the type he favors. He was dismayed earlier in the week that his beloved Ms. Judy was gone for a few days, but he quickly became an admirer of Ms. Amber too.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day Two

Day Two of Watching the Kids and they were both home sick. Nora was sick to her stomach last night at bedtime and again this morning - she napped most of the morning away. Aaron wasn't about to go to school when she was home, but in fact his belly was upset also.

And tonight, in the amazing manner that kids have, both are better again. Watching a Sponge Bob movie. Steph said they didn't need another movie and I told her I got it more for me. She was skeptical, but oh, I did. The trip to Target was good too. Peace reigns.

At lunch time they wanted chicken noodle soup, which I didn't have. I did have some chicken stock in the freezer, so I heated that and threw in some lasagna noodles that I cut up once they were cooked. Held my breath. Both pronouned it great, and Nora had two small bowls, the first she'd eaten in 24 hours.

My soup didn't have homemade noodles, but I can remember my grandmother making them. Every now and then she'd make lots. Spread a sheet on the unused beds and put the noodles on top to dry and dry. There was a time when I did make noodles in small batches, then gave it up when the frozen ones came long. And then forgot about them.

I'm enjoying the book Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. What to make from scratch and what to buy, based on taste, cost, hassle. Lots of recipes. Including one for pasta. Maybe I'll try again.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Tree Is Down

I didn't mean to take down the tree yesterday because I wasn't ready to let it go. I meant to take down the outside lights, since the temperature was in the 40's and the wires were soft. Then I decided to put away the Christmas quilts, then the small tree. And then, just the ornaments from the larger tree. And then, everything was gone.

When I was growing up, New Year's Day was the day to pack away the Christmas things, always, not that there were a lot of decorations. It was as predictable as Monday wash day. It was the same with my grandmother, the holly wreath in the window and the feather tree on its table, down on New Year's Day. Always.

If you asked, I would say that's not my tradition, but somehow it is. Somehow it works out that way, year after year. I want the tree up longer, I love it and its lights, and yet . . .January 1, over and out.

I wonder, now, whether it came down on New Year's Day on the Christmas my husband died. Or did I leave it up longer that year. I can't remember, like I can't remember much from that year. I only remember the set of Christmas dishes that I bought. Corell, at WalMart, and I really wanted them, even though my finances were unsure. I bought them, and every year I get them out, and every year I remember the story and every year I debate whether to just leave them in their box. Every year, I get them out.

I have the two lovely poinsettias that I'd like to try to save for next year. Lots of steps involved, but we'll see. I only did it, sort of, one year, when I planted the poinsettia outside in the summer . It grew luxuriously, but the roots spread and when I dug it up it quickly died. Now I know, plant it outside but leave it in the pot. We'll see.

New Year

Milo and Lucy, who visited during Christmas and added their own exuberance.

But now, it's a new year, and of course I have a long list of goals. I just counted up my mini-goals for January, and there are fifteen. Mini-goals fit into the larger goals, steps along the way to make sure the larger ones get done. Not every goal has a mini-goal.

One I'm especially looking forward to is to set a time away at the end of each month for a check-in of the larger goals. With my new Kindle Fire (thanks, family,) somewhere with Wi-Fi, like maybe Mammouth Cafe, with their lovely egg, veggie sausage/cheese/whole wheat bagel. The check-in.

Vicki Welsh at Field Trips in Fiber is doing her Color Palette Challenge with her friend Judy, and I'm going to do that. A new color palette every month, colors I might never normally use. Note the new spiffy button on the side-bar.

When I opened her blog this morning to see if this month's colors were posted yet - yes, I'm eager to see them - I was struck by her yesterday's post. She did a journal quilt every week last year, an ambitious project, then put them together at the end of the year. A wonderful visual of the year.

I think that the older I get, the more visual I get, and I love this idea. Can I add it to the list? My list is pretty serious, and I don't put on things that I won't do, or at least should do.

Yes, I can. Something small, say, 10", which wouldn't be intimidating. Nothing complicated, just a snapshot. Done on Saturday, or by Saturday.

Happy New Year, everyone.