Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fish at Clifton

Carrye took me to Clifton Cultural Arts Center to see their fish exhibit.  It started with one fish and exhibitors made their own fish in their own style from that one fish.  Above is Carrye's fish, with her wonderful beading.

Some of the pieces had dimensional bits, like this rope around the entire piece,

this colorful crochet along the bottom,

and the shell sea creature with wavy black legs.

Fun exhibit, thanks, Carrye.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I've been going along practicing different free motion patterns and feeling pretty darn happy with them, until . . . along came feathers.  Just the thing that everyone, me included, wants to do.  And my feathers were really, really bad.

I tried doing them without a pattern, with marking parallel lines, with trying to draw them out.  I tried doing a little research - it seems that the people who are known for their free motion quilting have slightly different variations when it comes to how they quilt feathers.  Like many other things, I guess it's just a matter of making many, many feathers until I find a way that works for me.  I think that the most recent one, top right, shows a little promise, that I can work from that.  These feathers have been a very humbling process.  There's a whole Craftsy class on making feathers, I may consider that.

When my quilt sandwich is filled with feathers and some circular fill-in, I'll wash it, then cut it apart to make some little zipper bags.  Washing shrinks the cotton batting just a little and hides a variety of bobbles and other quilting sins.  I highly recommend it.   

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mending the Knee

I'm in love with the mending stitch on my sewing machine.  For a hole in the knee, just slip the leg of the jeans on the free arm and start stitching over the patch.  When you've stitched to the end of the patch, touch the reverse and the machine stitches back and forth, back and forth.  It only takes about two settings for the complete patch.  That stitch and the blue and white verigated Gutterman thread make a neat, classy patch. 

For my Viking friends, the stitch is A:32.

If you don't have this stitch, you can still mend your jeans.  Just stitch forward over the patch, then stitch in reverse, forward again, then reverse, again and again.  Still easy.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ready to Sew Together

The nine Trip Around the World blocks for the baby quilt are ready to sew together.  Very bright, very pretty.  And, even though I was going to make something for myself using this concept, I'm over it for now.  A baby quilt is enough.  I'm thinking lots of diagonal quilting for this one. 

I came home from work yesterday and found my thread order on the porch.  Lovely neon green, orange, and blue, but no pink.  I'll get that at the quilt show and in the meantime I'll finish my bag handles with double stitching.  I had to try out the 17-wt quilting thread - the purple and green on the right - actually, I used it for free motion which is so not what it's for but it behaved nicely.  The colors are bright and completely change every few inches.  Definitely not a blendable.  I think it will be a new favorite.

At the quilt show, I have a feeling that my bag will fill up with new threads.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Milena's Quilt

I showed the pieced-only version of Milena's baby quilt at Modern Quilt Guild last week and got this picture from one of the members (thanks, Andrea!)  The pale pink squares are linen and I ended up stippling them, which was a good call.  The quilt pattern is from the book Modern Designs for Classic Quilts.

Since then it's been quilted and bound and sent away.  The picture above is the pieced backing.  There are two things I'm especially loving these days:  pieced backings and pieced bindings.

I messed up on two of the blocks on the Revised Trip Around the World that I'm making and I couldn't even be too dismayed about that because I can put those blocks on the back.  Except for you, no one will notice that they're not the same sequence as the ones on the front.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bad Sewing Day, Maybe

I'm teaching a class on Saturday, making a wool felt bag.  I made the sample early in January, which is a long time ago in my memory bank, so I'm making another this week.

Only thing is, I ran out of the Superior 30-weight thread I was using.  I got it last year at the Cincinnati Quilt Show, and I've loved it.  A little too much, apparently, I know I've used it several times.  I went to the Superior web site and they had it (New Brytes by Carol Bryer Fallert) at a really great price.  Only thing is, it was a Try Me Sample and there was no choice of colors.  I did the honorable thing and ordered three, plus a few other threads, but that didn't help me with my project.  I might get pink, then again, I might not, and either way, I'm sure I won't have it by Friday.

The only thread I had that was close in color was serger thread, so that's what I used, but it's a 50-weight thread so there was a definite difference.  Not only in color but also in weight.  I was about 1/3 finished with sewing the blocks together so I finished them up with the serger thread, then chose another stitch and went over everything again.  The stitching doesn't look the best and the two stitches really don't compliment each other, but it looks ok.  No one who doesn't examine it closely will know the difference.

I guess it can't be too bad a sewing day - I have new thread coming. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Linen Circle

Once on a visit to Asheville, I visited a studio in the River Arts District where the artist had done lovely circle resists on linen.  I came home very excited to try it but ended up trying it only once since my circle wasn't nice and crisp like I'd envisioned.

I found the piece a couple of weeks ago, and since the mental picture of the studio visit was far in the past, I actually loved the soft circle with the dye bleeding.  I added some free motion and it ended up being a tiny gift to my friend Jess. 

I'm excited now to try this again - I have this idea for more definition.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a warmer day, so I'll take my space heater to the basement in hopes of keeping the dye warm enough.  And, try again. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fabric Shopping, Revised

Turns out that the baby quilt group is going to work on the Revised Trip Around the World pattern that I talked about here.  Because I really didn't have enough of six fabrics that would work nicely together for this, and the group will be sewing on Monday, I made a trip to the fabric store. 

I actually got a shopping cart on my way in.  I usually try to avoid the cart because I figure it's trouble since I end up with more fabric than I come in for.  I carefully picked out six baby-colored fabrics, pastels, that looked pretty good together and put them in the cart.  But three fish fabrics, with lots of fish eyes, were so appealing.

Not a surprise to people who sew with me, back went those pastels and I ended up with my usual brights.  My hope is that the resulting quilt will be a little quirky with all those fish eyes.  Not so much as to be distressing to a young child, of course, just plenty of movement.

Each block is 12" square, so I'm thinking that nine blocks with borders top and bottom should do it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

Here's a valentine I received, ummm, about ten minutes ago.  Aaron's picture on the left, Nora's on the right.  Aaron said, ever so casually, "I can crayon now." 

Has anyone ever read Leo the Late Bloomer?  "And then one day, in his own good time, Leo bloomed."

Can it be that it's Aaron's own good time?  He's been such a non-crayon-er, when he turned five, he wouldn't even pick up a crayon, much less draw a picture.

Or, it could be a little bamboozling of Gran B, although Nora and Aaron both agree that it isn't.   

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Best Kind of Snow

The best kind of snow, totally unexpected, starting around 9:30, when the morning commute was over.  Flakes beautiful and huge, hardly even flakes but little clumps, covering grass and trees and bushes.  With temperatures right at freezing, roads clear.  Beauty without complication.  Poetry in snow.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Please Don't Tell

Today's Fat Tuesday, and I gave the grandkids Graeter's King Cake and bacon for their breakfast before school today.  Please don't tell their mom.

I seriously love good King Cake.  It's all about the crunch of that colored sugar.  I can't discount the cinnamon in the dough or the sweetness in the icing, but it's the texture of the sugar that gets me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mending Pajamas Today

On the days when I take them to school, Nora usually wakes up like a grumpy little bear.  Aaron, on the other hand, wakes up with a sleepy smile and a little wave.  And, today, a request to mend his pajamas.

And then he reminded me, "Now remember, first we get up and watch a little bit of a show, then we eat breakfast, then we get dressed, then we brush our teeth."  In the early days, I tried to get them to get dressed first, but that's not the way things are done, and like I said, the boy's a traditionalist.

I can't resist, though, in the waking up stages, to slip their socks on their feet.  It always helps me feel like we're getting somewhere.  And that I'm helping them make the transition between asleep and awake. 


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Entire Quilt

I showed a snippet of this quilt earlier, but since it's at its new home, here is the entire quilt.  It looks like I'll be doing this one again, for a girl next time, since someone really liked it and wanted one for his granddaughter.  I need to ask what colors he wants.

I just drove through the car wash even though, or maybe especially because, it was sprinkling.  I don't have any patience for drying the car afterward with a towel, driving away in the rain suits me.  At any rate, the mega doses of road salt are gone now. 

I've been looking at the pictures of the snow on the east coast and being glad I don't live there.  I remember well the first winter I lived in Detroit - we arrived at the end of January and it had snowed evey weekend since Thanksgiving.  There was snow piled up everywhere, and soon there was more.  The side street were like little tunnels.  With no hope of spring.  So not my style.

I can tell that I'm taking winter too seriously, staying in too often.  I need to get out and go to the movies or the conservatory or the mall or to Findlay Market or to IKEA.  IKEA is the choice that makes me smile.   

Friday, February 8, 2013

Somebody's Snowman

Sixty degrees yesterday, a lovely respite.  Aaron and I were out walking and he was enchanted by this ex-snowman, especially his hat.  He'd have loved to have kept that hat for himself. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Oops, Forgot

I realized that I forgot my sister-in-law's birthday, so she gets a special valentine postcard.  Thanks, Teri, for the idea.

And then I made another one, just free motion over fabric, that I liked much better.  A late birthday card for my Aunt Evelyn's 90th.  I saw a picture recently of her with her new great-grandgirl, a precious little premmie.  She looked a little bemused, but I'm so glad she could make the trip to the hospital in the city to meet that little girl.  I always imagine that even in confusion, people can still feel appropriate joy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Trip Around the World

I'm pretty excited about Melody Johnson's annual February Quilt Along With Melody.  For one thing, this year is an adaptation of Trip Around the World, which I really like but I can't conceive of cutting out and arranging all those little squares.  I saw a speedier version once, but it still involved long strips and all those little squares.

Melody is using Bonnie Hunter's tutorial, which is so easy and can use lots of scraps.  Thirty-six easy little squares at a time, done with strips.  I tried out a block this morning, very doable.  I didn't time it, but it went quickly, and I press a lot.  I'll probably use a gray fabric throughout, just for some continuity.

Another reason to be excited:  when I do Quilt Along With Melody, I actually plan to keep the quilts for myself.  I make lots of quilts as donations or gifts, and it's nice, every now and then, to make one for myself.  I'm thinking brightening up one of my bedrooms.  Both could use some brightening.     

Monday, February 4, 2013

Reusable Snack Bag

I loved the reusable snack and sandwich and produce bags that Lisa had at the boutique this weekend and of course I bought one.  They were all so pretty, plus the idea of not using the plastic baggies is attractive too.  They were lined with a light plastic lining, washable.

And then tonight, I decided I had make one with a little tweek or two (I hadn't sewn all day and had to have my fix.)  Absolutely fun.

Carrye, this one is for your pretzels.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Good Celebraton

Yesterday was the Celebration of the Arts at my church.  A gallery of the congregation's art.  A nice little boutique.  Four workshops throughout the afternoon.  An evening meal with all kinds of donated soups and breads and cookies.  A talent show in the evening.  Still a worship service to come this morning.

I was on the committee working on this, and even though we have all kinds of precedence because my church does a bi-annual Mennonite Arts Weekend, where people come from far and wide, this was the first time for this smaller one for just our church.

And, you never know . . . will people be willing to display their art?  Will they actually give up a Saturday?  Will there be enough food?  Will there be enough people to help clean up?

And now we know, the answer is yes to all of those.  It's been a wonderful community building experience.  Who would have known that the pastor is a juggler, the doctor is a magician, that there is even such a thing as a nose harp?  That the kids will be willing to display their art and musical talents?  That there are poets and photographers and costume makers.  That there would be standing room only at dinner with just the right amount of food.

That people are already talking about next time.  

I need some breathing time before considering a next time, and there is still the take-down to go, but I do know . . . it's been good.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Montessori Open House

So grateful for Montessori education for Aaron this year.  It's been perfect for him.  Last night was an open house, the kind where the kids show their parents what they've been doing.  No teachers in sight, it's all about the kid.  He was so excited, practically bouncing in the back seat on the way, eager to show off his "work."

Above, Aaron is showing that he can read a "Bob Book."  This little guy has been so anti-reading, and suddenly, it seems, there he is, and happy about it.  Proud, too, that the books are in the kindergarten room, and by default, so is he.

Here he is cutting out a snowflake.  It's all about learning to use the scissors.  The paper is pre-folded and stapled, with lines showing where to cut.

If only I'd had that as a kid.  My snowflakes always fell apart in several pieces, due to my improper folding or cutting.  The teacher would explain again and again and didn't know why I couldn't get it.  One little staple, and I could have been a successful snowflake-cutter-outer.

This morning was Aaron's visit with the ophthalmologist.  The vision in his left eye has improved a lot with his glasses.  He'll still need to patch the right eye, but hopefully it won't be such a struggle since the vision in his left eye is better.