Monday, June 30, 2008

What's In There?

Today's postcard

As part of my organization, I moved the cedar chest that lives in my office to a new spot under the window, where it doubles as an extension area for my desk and opens up a chunk of wall space for something different, yet undeterminded.

In the process, I took a look to review what's in there that I decided was so important.

There are two of these quilts, quilted by a great-aunt on my mother's side. They are very heavy, knotted, made of a woven material, and initialed but not dated. I would guess that they may be around 100 years old and have never been used.

There are also two of these quilts, made by another maternal great-aunt, pieced with necktie fabric. They are hand quilted but the stitches are not tiny and precise. These were made for utility, not for show, I'd guess. They are probably around 75 years old. I wish they were dated, but they aren't. They have a little wear.

This little flannel baby quilt was made for my husband around 65 years ago and was used. It is knotted, not quilted. I don't know who made it.

The pink afgan was purchased for my daughter Stephanie by a friend of my mother-in-law. It was purchased before she was born in hopes that after five grandsons this baby would be a girl. The pink dress was a gift from my mother-in-law.

This afgan and little yellow crocheted sweater were gifts for my daughter Sarah. I think that my mother purchased both for her new granddaughter.

And on the bottom, a St. Patrick uniform skirt, practically indestructible, sometimes rolled up at the waist to temporarily shorten it. Always worn with a white blouse. No exceptions.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sunday Fun

Today's postcard

Deb at Red Show Ramblings has a nice way of sharing little quizzes from time to time. I took What the House Test Says About You 'cause I like houses. Fun for a Sunday afternoon. If you decide to take a few minutes for this quiz, let me know what it says about you.

Here are my results:

You consider yourself important, but no more important than anyone else.

You love attention, but you don't feel like you deserve more of it than anyone else.

You are a fairly community oriented person. You like to get to know your neighbors, but you also like your privacy. You get attached to neighborhoods and cities.

You are creative, expressive, and bright. You are always in the middle of some amazing project.

You look good in a low maintenance sort of way. You do the minimum required to be attractive.

You are moved by the most simple of things. You can find pleasure from a small, perfect moment.


Today's postcard

When I moved to my new house almost a year ago, I was so excited to have a large studio area instead of a table in my bedroom. I have two dressers for supplies, a nice arrangement for fabrics, and an antique table for cutting instead of pulling out the mat from under my bed and getting down on my hands and knees. All great, just like I'd dreamed.

Yet now, almost eleven months later, it isn't working. Quite simply, I can't find what I need. There are new things in my life, stuff I love and use but stuff that need homes. I seem to have acquired a whole new array of stabilizers, and I thought I had lots before. Some in rolls, some in flat packs, all pretty specific in their use. A few more notions, a few more beads.

Best of all, some art supplies. Not a hog-wild-crazy collection, but some paints and paint sticks, mediums, ink, brushes, that kind of thing. And more hand-dyed fabrics. My collection of store-bought fat quarters isn't growing but isn't getting used much either.

So, I'm in the thinking phase of the organization. It's about all I have time for right now, anyway. And I'm enjoying the thinking - it gives me a chance to reflect about the changes that have come about in the last year.

It looks like some of my things may find homes in the office, which is ok since it's upstairs too - there are two rooms at the top of the stairs. Since it's just me, there is no one to say, "Why are you moving all this stuff in here - I can't work." Sarah thinks there should be a visit to the new Cincinnati IKEA in my future, and she's probably right.

For now, I've hung up my collection of rulers, which makes grabbing them easier and freed up a chunk of drawer space where all that plastic used to be. (Side item - one of my co-workers recently mentioned using a sewing gauge and a tape measure - I realized I hadn't used either in years and am not even sure if I have them.)

And I found a shoe rack in the basement and put it beside the sewing table so the threads I use most are right there. I think it says something that my collection of shoes has decreased while my collection of threads has increased.

I know there's a good way to do all this. The space is there. I'm sure there are things I no longer use that can be moved out, like the feet and instruction book of my good pal Singer machine, whose wind-in-place bobbin needs repair (but will I ever want it again anyway?)
For now, I've been enjoying the reflection, but it's time to come up with an action plan.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Fill-In # 78

Today's postcard

Thanks, Janet, for Friday Fill-Ins. Answers are in bold.

1. Birthdays are to be enjoyed and celebrated, with the celebration extending over a few weeks. Not the actual party, but the personal acknowledgment of the joy of living. And there's nothing quite like birthday cake.

2. Spring is my favorite season because the weather starts to warm up and the days are getting longer. I like summer too, the growing season and hot days, but since the days are starting to shorten it doesn't rank as high as spring with me.

3. I feel my best when I'm in my studio creating. Or planning what to make next. Or even just cleaning after a project's completed. Or when I'm dyeing fabrics and wondering how they will come out.

And after that, when I'm with family. When I'm in the mountains. When I'm learning.

4. Grilled cheese is my favorite food, at least this week. With its cousin quesadillas right behind. And whatever's at the farmer's market. If I haven't had pizza for a few weeks, then that's a favorite. There seems to be a cheese theme going on here.

5. First impressions are fun, usually right on with me. I heard a retired Department of Justice person say this week that because of her former job she knows how to read people. I thought that was interesting, since I think of reading people as intuitive, not learned. I'm sure it can be, though, watching and listening. Maybe that's what intuition is anyway.

6. The best piece of advice I ever received was from the pediatrician when I was leaving the hospital with my first-born. He said not to bundle the baby too warmly or overdress her, that illnesses come from germs, not cold. I remembered that not only when the girls were babies but when they were older and insisted that they were "warm enough" without that extra layer.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to starting a new book, tomorrow my plans include working and walking by the river in the evening, and Sunday I want to go to church and head over to JoAnn's and Michael's afterward, then starting a summer dress for Nora. I haven't done any garment sewing for a long time and want to take a crack at it.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Play Area

Today's postcard

Steph and I went to the mall last night with Nora and Aaron. It was a slow night at the mall, so Aaron got his first chance to enjoy the play area without getting run over by exuberant kids.
I really think he'll be walking soon, despite the fact that he's an efficient crawler and a sturdy little guy. He and Nora both had a great time. I went into Penny's to look at clothes - no purchases - and kept hearing happy shrieks from both of them.

This morning my potato dextrin was dry enough to put dye on top. This was a pretty dismal piece before, way light from my first try at spraying on the dyes. I'm not a fan of the results but I'll try again - I read somewhere about using a flour paste resist and I'll give that a try. I also got some spray bottles tonight and I'll try spraying the dyes again too. I had tried to recycle Windex-type bottles and they clogged really quickly.

I had lots of left-over orange and turquoise dyes and did these three pieces. I know that lots of people just use yellow/red/blue dyes and mix the other colors, but there's something to be said from using some of the premixed dyes. The orange and turquoise are especially vibrant.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer Day

Today's postcard

My new Summers Day quilt is made from fabric from my batik class, batiking combined with shobori dyeing. I wanted the effect of a bright sunlight shining through trees.

I'm feeling pretty darn happy because when I needed a bright green for the binding I could quickly dye it.
I have the chance to take an advanced shibori task and I'm torn. I love shibori and am drawn toward making little pleats and stitched designs to end up with something wonderful. I don't care for wrapping fabrics around jugs or poles, though, and I really don't care for dyeing on silk. I think I'll skip the class and take off on my own.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Today's postcard

Time for a little experimenting. The first is homemade potato dextrin, made in the blender. I've had this pretty red blender for several years, long before the red retro kitchen. Somehow I couldn't resist it, even though I rarely use a blender. It must have been a subliminal look ahead.

I poured it on the fabric, where it sat in the basement a couple of days refusing to dry because the basement was way too humid. This morning I moved it outside, where there is more drying going on, but also an influx of flies. The idea is that after it dries I'll put dye on top and it will go into the crackles. The jury is obviously still out.

This one went much faster. I stacked six layers of silk and painted the top layer with SetAColor paint.

It dried quicklly and each layer was a little different, both because of the varying backgrounds and because of the amount of paint that moved through the layers.

Of course, I never know what to do with silk so this may have a limited application. The basic idea was from Susan Stein's Fabric Art Workshop, and she calls it lasagna dyeing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Views from the Bridge

Today's postcard

The sculpture event at the Purple People Bridge offered more than sculptures. There were large floral arrangements made by various groups, like the arrangements below. Combined with the river views, they made a pretty, visual treat.

No flowers in this one, just the bridge and a view of the next bridge east, the "Big Mac" bridge.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sculpture on the Bridge

Today's postcard

This weekend there was a sculpture show, Riverspan, on the Purple People Bridge. I'm not sure just how the larger pieces traveled to their spots on the bridge - some were pretty big. White tents were set up on the bridge, making it a long covered room.

This sculpture of the horse and its reflection were near the entrance. The "fence" is the bridge, not part of the sculpture.

Here's what it looked like inside.

There were some openings in the tents. There had been a wind/rain storm just before I got there and one of the artists said one of the pieces (not his) blew over and was damaged.

There were a few pieces I'd liked to have taken home. This is one.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Today's postcard. I've decided to be brave and bleach discharge my precious hand dyes. And I'm hooked.

Thanks to Steph for a great birthday dinner yesterday. There was some frosting sneaking going to before dinner started, then a great dinner that included two salads and a fabulous bread with dipping oil.

I got to enjoy Aaron during a rare quiet moment that probably lasted about fifteen seconds before he was squirming to get down. Clingy he isn't.

Nora and I blew out birthday candles. It took me until this morning to figure out my wish, even with Sarah's admonishment that the wish might expire if I didn't wish it that same night. I'm sure it was still good.

Birthday shoes - coolest ever.

Aaron conked out soon after dinner, weary from all his travels of the day.

I love to be Gran B.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Fill-In # 77

Today's postcard

Time for Friday Fill-Ins. Answers are in bold.
1. A smile is an easy gift, a greeting - a genuine smile is a sign of the soul's happiness.

2. I don't have a favorite board or card game. Truth is, I don't like them. I'd rather be reading, I'd rather be quilting, I'd rather be outside working or hiking. If I play any board or card games, it's for the companionship, not the game. When I was young, though, I did love to play Monopoly with my cousin Gregg. The fun of choosing a token, all that money, buying properties - it was all good.

3. I would love to have more disposable income in my life and less stress. I have a feeling that puts me in the same category as lots of people. But I am almost always content.

4. When I think of the Summer Solstice, I think of long days, bright colors, a little mysticism. I love all the solstices, but summer is my favorite. On the down side, I realize that now the days will start getting shorter again and I love the long days.

5. I just remembered I need to be filling the bird feeder. I think my house is on the bird newsletter as a good place to fill up.

6. One of my favorite song lyrics goes like this: I look around and I am told, it's Sunday morning in my soul. I love the thought of Sunday morning in my soul, peacefulness, restfulness, spirituality.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to birthday dinner at Steph's, tomorrow my plans include working, then going to the Newport on the Levee to eat nachos and look at the river and go to Barnes and Noble, and Sunday I want to catch up on my dyeing lessons, which include using potato dextrin. Actually, I have to work Sunday, too, but hopefully just a few hours. I'd love to start something new, too. We'll see.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Take It Further Challenge for June

Today's postcard

June's Take It Further challenge is "stories that are and stories that are possible." In introducing the challenge, Sharon B talked about fabric stashes and the wealth they represent and about how things can be made into something new and take on a new meaning.

In making my challenge piece, I used a piece of fabric that I had made in a batiking class. The wax outlines were drawn on muslin and filled in with dye that was painted on. It was a fun process, but even though I liked my result it was clearly beginner work and needed a make-over.

For the challenge, I cut my fabric into strips and ironed them side-by-side to fusible interfacing, placing every second strip a couple of inches lower than the top. After squaring the result, I used a three-stitch zig zag on the edges of the strips. I once again cut the piece, in the opposite direction this time, and ironed those strips to fusible batting, again placing every other strip a couple of inches lower than the top. Squaring the piece and zig zagging the strips together finished the "piecing."

My batik went from the flat piece it was to the finished quilt that was possible.

Here's the close-up. The finished quilt is approximately 12" x 12".

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Visit to Town

Today's postcard

Part of the fun of a Smoky Mountain camping trip is a visit to town. Gatlinburg, that is, not Pigeon Forge. Pigeon Forge we avoid. End of discussion.

It's all the better if the trip to town includes a meal at the Smoky Mountain Brewery. Aside from everyone's being ready for a break from camping food, the food there is always great. The only hard part is deciding what to order.

This time we shared a vegetarian pizza,

except for Nora, who had chicken tenders.

Then we wandered up and down the street, along with everyone else in Gatlinburg that day. A slinky and shirt for Nora were the only purchases. Oh, and fudge from Kilwin's. Yum.

Back at the campsite we took a hike toward evening and Sarah took a quick dip in the river alongside the trail. People were already waiting to see the fireflies - we figured they had about a 3-hour wait until full dark when the show begins.