Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hats Off!

To all of you support staff in the offices, labs and technical environments out there:

And thank you for all you do!!
Below is a picture of the view directly across from my desk.

I work at the County Office of Education in School Emergency Preparedness. The red backpack is a "Go kit", in case there's an emergency and we have to grab supplies and GO! The white board is my supervisor's idea of 'mental mapping', looks like a To-do list to me. :D The irises I brought in for myself.

He may not have noticed the day or said anything, but I know I'm appreciated by everyone else in the project! Since the incident at VA Tech our office has been busy...

Enjoy the day!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Strippy Update

The columns are done for my Strippy LE. I laid out four of the six on the couch to see how they looked. The advent of this project was so mindless... I finally had to sit down and do the math. I had all these strips left over and couldn't figure out why. *scratches head* Well when you don't figure out how many pieced strips you need up front that's what happens. So now I have starter dough for my next LE. :D

I want this to look like one of those old quilts from the mid to late 1800's, red, cheddar and sage green with unbleached muslin. Before the columns were even built I bought the red, cheddar and sage. I wasn't entirely convinced the cheddar (okay, Su... stop snickering *orange*) was the right one, but I bought two yards anyway.

*Gak* That'll teach me I should try before I buy. I hated it, too much! Back to the fabric store.

Much better. This orange is called "School Bus". I never saw a school bus this color, have you?! I've spent some time pressing and trimmnig the columns to a nice 1/4" seam allowance. They're all set. And there it sits... all inspiration gone at the moment. Why does that happen?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shirt of Many Colors

A couple of posts ago I said I was bogged down. Big Blue was monopolizing my Janome in the sewing room and the Strippy quilt was at a stand still on the Featherweight in the kitchen. What to do? I went stash diving and came up with something completely different. You just need those break out projects once in a while to get the happy "It's Done!" feeling you don't get from a big project.

I bought a basic cotton tee-shirt from Wal-Mart.

What I wanted to try was coming from my imagination, not a pattern so I figured if it bombed I'd only be out $6.50, not even the cost of a yard of fabric.

I had a *blast* pulling a bazillion fabrics in the jade, teal, purple, fuschia palette. I cut 2" squares and scattered them on the cutting table so I could manage the color balance.

Then I split the side seams of the shirt and laid the squares out in rows, tacking them in place with fabric glue stick. I started on the back so I could practice. :D

Then I machine stitched - raw edge applique' - approximately 1/4" in from the edge of the squares. I used long rows from top to bottom and stop and start rows from side to side to maintain the stretch of the tee.

I didn't pre-wash the shirt before the applique'. When I was done I turned it wrong side out and washed it on delicate. It got nice and scrunchie and the edges raveled enough to soften the look.

It's so fun to wear! And warm...

Now I'm thinking about other color schemes. Sunflower yellow, green and brown perhaps? :D

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Digital Art

My husband Frank knows how much I love sunflowers. He created this digital composite image for me.

He built the window, wall and floor using his imaging software. The Sunflower wallhanging is mine. The woman is a 'stock photo' available for digital composite artists use and the hillside seen through the window is the view out our back door.

It's so restful.

Sunflower Banner

Just an update on my felt applique' banner. I took a picture before the last leaves and vines were added. Since it was my own creation I had all the design decisions to make.

It's done! I'll put it away until September and when I hang it, it will feel new again. :D

I added blanket stitching around the flat edges to finish.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Lesson Continues

What a great day we had at the house Sunday. DS1 and 2 came to celebrate the April birthdays. DH's is April 7th and DS2's is the 21st. We had a feast of fine homemade foods and a great dessert to top it all off.

Then DH challenged DS2 to an online computer game while DS1 and I went into the sewing room to continue his quilting project. First I made a quilt sandwich for him to practice free motion quilting on and did a demonstration. You can see the "Big Blue", as Su calls it moved to the back of the table so I can demo.

Then I handed the Machinger gloves to Nathan. He looked like he had Mickey Mouse hands. :D As soon as he sat down, guess who had to get into the act? Lila suddenly wanted attention.

Usually she comes in, says hello and turns around and leaves before I can get the camera. But this time instead of getting down, she decided to settle down on Nathan's knee. Sorry kitty, we have quilting to do!

For years Nathan's heard me comment on how tired my neck and shoulders get while machine quilting. Well after just a few rounds he said, "My arms are getting tired." I told him to drop his shoulders and lower his elbows. That helped.

He worked steadily and was diligence despite all the usual prat falls that come to a first time machine quilter. He practiced on the quilt sandwich first with doodles and meandering and then moved to the real thing. He bravely used contrasting thread on the navy. Then we put the dogs up and switched to in the ditch quilting; might as well try it all right?

Once he finished quilting I was ready for a break; but he suggested we begin the binding. "Umm.. I think maybe we'll save that for the next visit", :D such staying power!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mini Group Mini-retreat

These photos were taken at my mini group The Sew Whats. We got together during MLK Jr holiday weekend in 2006 for an overnight of talk, food, Show and Tell and sewing community quilts.

A few weeks before the mini-group mini-retreat I asked the ladies to make a minimum of six blocks from the Mary's Triangle pattern. We agreed to use 'calicos', small floral prints that had been aging in our stashes since the 80's and muslin. But the pattern is so quick, most of us showed up with 20 or 30 pieced blocks. Then we mixed and matched them to see how many different layouts we could create.

We had a blast! Each quilt came out so different and they're all made from one block. I call this one 'Streak of Lightening'.

This one, 'Whirling Arrows.'

'Boxes and Blocks.'

This one was made by Kim who agreed to work with "Vintage" fabric only if she absolutely had to. She likes to create with Moda Marble and Hoffman Batiks, so this was a challenge of sorts. We all loved the 'cheddar' orange in this one. It makes the design just *pop*. Maybe we should call it "Please pass the Cheddar." :D

This is Judy's. A nice three color quilt.

This is Linda's and hands down my favorite. I love the way she bordered it with the muslin to make the design element appear to float. I call it 'Straight Furrows'. Most of the tops were completed during the mini-retreat. Then we each took one home to quilt and complete it.

At the next quilt guild meeting we showed them as a group. Then we donated them to the Community Quilt Chairman. They went to the County Child Protection Services to comfort some youngster during a difficult time in their life. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun doing it.

What Planet Are You From?

You Are From Mercury

You are verbal, clever, and knowledgeable - and it shows.
You don't like to be out of touch with your friends!
You're creative, expressive, and aware of everything going on around you.
You love learning, playing, and taking in all of what life has to offer.
Be careful not to talk your friends' ear off, and temper your need to know everything.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Decor Trio

Once you're known as a needle artist, be it quilting, knitting or embroidery, people seem to remember that about you.

This is a trio of items I've received over the years. They hang in the bedroom by my dresser mirror. The bottom item was a Mother's day gift from my youngest son when he was in grade school. The arts and crafts project was to select a picture from among the greeting cards that had been cut to shape and make a plaster cast of it for Mom. As an eight year old my son picked this out for me. When I opened the gift he said, "I picked that one because it looked like the stitching you do." I was so touched. It is one of my treasures. :D

The middle item is a counted cross stitch I received 20 years ago from my Secret Sister at the time. The quote is taken from Proverbs 31 - "The Virtuous Woman" passage.
"She works with her hands in delight."

The top item arrived recently from my Mom who lives on the other side of the US. I bet when she was at her favorite folk art and craft store she saw this and thought of me.

When I look at these I feel the love of family and friends.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Among the Elders

DH and I went for a drive to a local redwood grove; Montgomery Woods. The drive there is so pretty and relaxing.
This is Orr Springs Ridge looking west.

This is also on the ridge, looking southwest. The steer never did pause from his grazing to notice the photographer.

When we got there we left the path well traveled and hiked along the creek. It was cool and verdant. I looked at the wildlife while DH took the pictures. This is what I found among the ferns, a woodland newt.


I picked him up and put him on a mossy tree so he would photograph better. His belly is *bright* orange. I named him 'Sid' after the character in Ice Age. He was slow moving and therefore not hard to catch but he wouldn't stop motoring his legs even while I held him in midair. It was comical.

Looks like a picture postcard. "Having a wonderful time, wish you were here." :D

I love walking among the redwoods and listening to the silence. It's so powerful to stand in the presence of beings over 1000 years old . I wonder sometimes about all that they've seen.

The park has some of the tallest trees in the world. It's what they call an 'old growth grove' because it's never been logged. I found a soft patch and laid down on the forest floor. Looking up I felt like I was among the Elders, so timeless.

It was so cool under the redwood canopy; DH let me borrow his jacket. The sun was shining but it was chilling in the grove. The redwoods like it best that way; cool and damp.

The wildflowers were blooming too. This little blossom was about as big as my thumbnail.

And the Trillium were everywhere!

I was so intrigued by this leafy skeleton. It told a story of last summer.

By this time I was chilled to the bone, so we headed back to the car. But it was wonderful to visit. We met a couple from France in the parking lot, camera gear in hand. They asked us if this was Montgomery State Park and I realized they must not know what redwoods smell like. The fragrance in the parking lot was unmistakable.

I thought again how much beauty there is in my County and less than an hour from home.

Friday, April 06, 2007

One Is Not Enough

About five years ago Thread Catchers caught on (pun intended) in my area. Where before you'd see quilters at Sew Bee's or Quilt Guild with a brown paper bag taped to the table next to them, you now saw these cute little fabric caddies. Well I had to have one!

I noticed that thread clung to the cotton lining so I lined mine with satin. It's a little dressier that way too. :D It has a little sandbag pincushion and a magnet strip for holding needles and pins. I added rubber feet to the bottom of the fabric covered base to keep it from skidding away.

Last month when Rosy came for a Sew Bee she gifted me with a Thread Catcher. What a sweetie! I love it. It has a little different shape than my Celestial one and a few different features. Her's has a wide fabric strap between the sandbag pincushion and the thread catcher. There's also a nifty little pocket for your do-dads. I decided it needed to drape over the arm of the recliner where I do my stitching. And I love the color! Little Miss Sunshine...
Thread Catcher

Rosy apologized for giving me something she knew I already had, but I'm thrilled. With some items, one is just not enough!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

City By the Bay

On my last holiday we made a day trip to San Francisco to visit the De Young Museum. The place was *packed*. Apparently several other people had the same idea for their holiday!

These pictures were taken from the Observatory; which was several stories up in the Museum and had windows on all sides. I asked DH to take these pictures since they gave such a nice view of the city. He was willing, even though he has a fear of heights and it was a challenge to step up to the glass and look out. But not down!

Looking north, you can just see the tops of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Looking north west and out to sea. The Museum is in Golden Gate Park; so you're looking over the tops of the trees to the ocean.

Looking south west into the city. It always amazes me to remember that the entire city was rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake. Whatever wasn't leveled by the quake burned in the fires that followed. So the city looks rather clean and new from up here. A hundred and one isn't old for a major city.

Yours truly enjoying a moment of calm revery after the crowds in the galleries.

A still life -painter unknown; from the Early American gallery. So real you can almost taste the berries.