Monday, September 25, 2006

Happy Day!

My DS's came up for the weekend to help me celebrate my birthday. It was *great* to see them and hear their news. We had a really nice home cooked meal, complete with fresh baked blackberry pie with vanilla ice cream. Can you say "mmmm"?

Then DH suprised me with my BD gift. A custom mat and frame on this counted cross stitch sampler. I was so tickled! I finished it in time for our 25th anniversary, but then it sat for two years for lack of discretionary funds to frame it.

Thank you drhrt! You knock my socks off!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Guild BOM

This block's called Road to Heaven. The Block of the Month coordinator for our guild requested Fall colors, so I was forced out of my typical blue-green-wow color combination preference. :D

The green on the sides is just the olfa board. Lila was watching me the whole time I was setting up this photo. She's happy to be inside now that nights are in the 40's. During the summer we hardly see her at all.

Q: What kind of cat does a quilter own?

A: A calico of course. :D

Trailing Along

Here's the Snail's Trail at twenty-five, 5x5. I have more blocks, but I don't have anymore design wall. :D

When working with 12" blocks, aren't a lot of quilts 4x6? If I were making that size I'd be done by now... But this is a good study in perseverance.

When I was five years old I attended Blue Birds... the forerunner to Brownies. We stood in a group at the opening of the meeting and recited the Blue Bird motto which included, "I will try to finish what I begin..." I don't remember anything else from that motto, but there it is, impressed on my mind at a tender young age.

I've been making quilts since my youngest son was just a twinkle in my eye; he's now 24. I've made a lot of quilts - bed quilts, wallhangings, placemats, baby quilts, lap quilts, donation quilts, the list goes on and on. And still I find I learn something from every single one I make. This one has already spoken to me twice. Originally I was going to use my teal, jade and aqua fabrics that I've been collecting since the early 90's when they first came out. I thought I'd do a jade with teal and then a teal with jade sort of thing, the combinations would be easy and I could be systematic. Having a system emerge always makes the construction of a quilt go faster. But that plan didn't work and I bogged down. Then I added clear blue and worked with less jade and I started liking it again.

After about 15 blocks it went blah again, I considered making it into a lap quilt, putting borders on it and calling it done. But I listened to the inner voice telling me to stick with it, see where it goes, try to make it work... and you don't want *another* UFO. So I listened to what the quilt was saying, it told me the colors were too close in value, it was all medium and therefore low contrast. Well that helped identify the problem... I really like HIGH contrast. But high contrast wasn't suitable for the original vision of this quilt. I introduced some light-mediums in among the medium-mediums and this is where it is now.

Sometimes quilts evolve beyond your original vision for them and you listen to what the quilt says it needs. Other times you just make minor adjustments along the way and you find you can keep working. I think this one is the latter.

I'm passed the half-way mark, 27/48 blocks, it's getting easier. But I remember why I don't make many King or Queen sized bedquilts. There are too many other ideas calling to me. It's hard to stay focused. :D

Friday, September 15, 2006

Strippy Update

This is really a 'leader and ender' project, but I'm have such fun with it, I sew off a dozen or so in between the piecing of the Snail's Trail block units. I've pieced 16 out of 48 total blocks needed for the Snail's Trail and I'm' actually getting tired of blue, blue, blue; so the strippy L&E helps a lot! It provides welcome color play and no thinking is required at this stage. I was just throwing them in a bin until I had a enough to bother counting.

It seems I really don't want to have to count or plan with this quilt... but at some point I had to figure out how many of these little rows of light and dark squares pieced into strips I need to make. So looking at a thumbnail of the quilt-to-be, I counted the rows in the columns - 35 and mulitplied by the number of columns in the proposed quilt - 7 and got my total - 245. Well I'd pieced 325, so then I counted the strips into groups of 25 each, put them on safety pins and put the 'left overs' in another basket - maybe they'll be Starter dough for another quilt... The groups of 25 are what this picture shows. I thought it was cool how they fan out and you can sorta see the colors and get an idea what the quilt's going to look like.

In the next few days I hope to add a picture of the EQ draft. That'll give you a better idea where I'm going with this puppy. AND a picture of the break-out solids (for me) that I purchased at Beverly's for the sashing and border.

More later...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Spiders and Snakes

Despite the title of this post, this is not about the coming of Halloween. Unlike some, Halloween is *not* a favorite day of the year for me. Instead I wanted to share some pictures and some thoughts.

I was lying on the floor doing my morning stretch and saw a hair-fine spider weaving his web between the arm and the side of my recliner. I could barely see the strand as he moved and spun and it was only because of the backlighting that I could see it at all. Amazing... how do they know how to *do* that??

I thought about the belief that we all just sprung from some cosmic ooze and all the insects, plants, mammals, birds and humanity on this earth just sort of *happened*. How can someone that believes that look at some of these natural wonders and not see the hand of a Master creator?

DH and I walked the Gabrielli Winery road the other day and saw this little guy.

He couldn't have been more than seven inches long and about as big around as a pencil. He was so still (why are snakes always 'he?') we thought he was dead. But then he waved his little black tongue at us. It was so cute... I loved the little black stripe across his eyes, like a racoon's mask. It was hard to tell if it was a Western Rattlesnake; he didn't have a rattle, hadn't grown one yet perhaps? We left him alone and went on our way.

This morning I was walking the Mill Creek road by my office and came across this one:

Again, the one I saw was tiny... only as big around as my pinky finger. I didn't know it was a California King snake until I Googled it. Unfortunately he was dead, not stiff yet, but he had definitely expired. Should've have played in the road, I guess.

When DH and I were vacationing in Kaua'i a few years ago, I was wading in the wonderfully lukewarm waters of Hanalei bay. The water was sooo clear. Frank said, "Watch out. That looks like a snake." I was immediately intrigued. That wasn't a really bright reaction, but that's usually how I react when someone points out a snake, curious and without fear. So I stepped closer to the shape in the shallows and sure enough, it was easy to tell it was a snake as he swam *away* from me. He was smarter about the encounter than I was apparently.

They may be strange, or poisionous and therefore to be avoided, but I still think they're beautiful. The patterns on their backs, the way the scales lay in overlapping rows. The touch of the Master creator at work.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Late Summer's Daydream

Last spring I posted pictures from my walk along the pathways west of my office building. Lately I've been thinking, "What's growing now that it's mid-September and it hasn't rained in four + months? The following are a few of the plants and silhouettes I see.

Left: Last year's Anise

Right: This year's Anise

I like to pinch off the tiny dried seeds and crunch them between my teeth. For such a small granule, you get a lot of licorice flavor.

These are all considered 'weeds', which I guess means they aren't valued by some people. But I think they have a beauty all their own.

This one is a shrub along the walk-way at work, so it is watered. But I love the way the leaves are turning purple on the end of each stalk.

~ One is often closest to God in a garden ~

Well sometimes all the world seems like a garden if you just look.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

September Sunflowers

I just love the look of a row of sunflowers bending their faces to the sun.

This bouquet lasted a long time, and I love the look of our Double X quilt in the background.

I've admired sunflower block patterns for years, maybe one day I'll make a full-size quilt of their cheerful circles. In the meantime I had to try at least one...

Then there was this jacket I made:

And this Rebecca Barker Quiltscape jigsaw puzzle I just *had* to have.

Hmmm... I see a theme here.

~Happiness is homemade~

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Donation Quilts

It was Labor Day weekend, so I slipped into my sewing room between visits with DS and played with my new Janome MC. I had seenthese little receiving blankets made at quilt retreat *last* September, but my old machine just wasn't equal to the task. It was so fun using the machine embroidery thread Rosy gave me and learning how to program my machine. DS sat in the sewing room visiting with me and he read the manual while I pushed the buttons. I could've mirrored the hearts so they faced outward, but I didn't think of that till after they were done.

One yard each of coordinating flannel, layered right sides together, round the corners if you like; I traced the lid from a whip topping container. Sew 7/8's of the way around, leaving an opening to turn. Turn right side out, press and top stitch with your favorite pattern stitch in a coordinating, or contrasting colored thread. Total time: One hour each. And I got the fabric off the Freebees table at guild. How cool is that?


Finally getting these photos up. This is my leader and ender stars made from the hst's left over from DS's quilt completed /last/ September! Hmmm... seems like leader-ender quilts take about a year (0r two) to piece; while we're busy piecing other things.

I've sewn on point quilt settings before, but this was new to me. I couldn't believe how much trial and error there was for the first row. Each row went together a little faster though. And it was so exciting to see my piecing plan come together in real life.

You may remember I posted a request for more of the repeat border print. Thank you to all of you who looked in your stashes. But as it turned out, *no* one had more. Well necessity is the mother of invention as they say... I had enough to use border fabric in an alternate A-B-A layout and I like it better, not as static. Now all it needs is the outside border(s) and it's off the UFO Tops list! But there it sits, while I burn my way through Snail's Trail blocks and my current leader and ender.

Who says life is boring? They need a hobby!

Friday, September 01, 2006


I took last Friday off and after the Estate sale, DH and I drove to the coast for a day away.
When I lived in San Diego as a child, we said 'we're going to the beach'. When I lived in New England as a teen, we said 'we're going to the seashore'. When I moved here to go to college and people said 'we're going to the coast', I wondered what the difference was. But the Pacific Northwest coast isn't about 'beaching it' like one does in Southern California, or in the resort towns of Cape Cod for example. It's about hiking down a rocky cliff-line, usually dressed in hiking shoes wearing a sweater and/or windbreaker against the stiff breezes and/or fog. :D

Still and all I love going. We get out of town, wind our way up through the Willits grade and turn west. This hwy takes us through many different types of natural environments, from scrub oak to redwood forest to seaside. The temperature gradually drops and the air becomes fresher and cooler. The drive over in the convertible is almost as refreshing as laying on the shore listening to the sea birds and surf.

This little guy was extremely patient with the tourists. The sign said, "Please do not disturb the seals. Keep pets on a leash. Wildlife are sensitive to human voices and pet noise." But did the humans pay any attention?? No, several people were seen with their dogs off the leash, standing on the shore barking away at the seals. So annoying. Humans are amazing sometimes.

This is DH and I, after he'd explored the photo opportunities and I'd had my nap in the sun. It's sooo amazing to lay on the sun warmed sand, breathe the highly ionized air, and drift off with the sound of the waves swishing and slipping away in the background. I was completely toasty and he was chilled, with hands like ice from being out in the wind with his camera. He thawed out though once he got out of the wind.

This is looking east at Lake MacKerriker. I liked the different grasses and bullrushes growing along the shore.

We had lunch at our favorite Ft Bragg resturant and this time I opted for something besides their beer battered Fish and Chips. It was hard deciding what to have - I was so hungry it *all* looked good. But as I always say, hunger is a great flavor enhancer. :D

We headed home shortly thereafter. It had been a lovely day and a very nice way to celebrate our anniversary. Thanks for the memories drhrt.