Friday, March 28, 2014

All Over the Map

My friend Blogless Bobbi is fond of saying that my quilting is all over the map.

Last week I signed up for a CW doll quilt swap and a Kaffe Collective 12" block swap.

I think Bobbi's right.

The doll quilt is basted and being hand quilted in front of the television. Wednesday I started on the Kaffe blocks and today I made some more. The sign-up for the swap hasn't closed yet and as of today I believe there are nineteen participants. That is gonna be one huge load of glorious colorful blocks!

I have odds and ends of Kaffe/Phillip/Brandon in a bin downstairs. And on Wednesday I ordered a stack of shot cotton FQs for this project.

I am having fun.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On Sharing Or Not

Nicole (my would-be neighbor-down-the-street who lives on the opposite side of this continent) has a thought-filled post up today. The other day she shared an experience where she was at a workshop and was enamored with another quilter's project. But, when she asked, the other quilter declined to share the name of the pattern with her. The post generated a bunch of comments, and Nicole referenced them in today's post. Look how gracious she is (as always): 
I want to clarify that I did not mean to villify the woman who wasn't willing to share her quilt design with me.  I thought she was kind of eccentric, but laughed it off as just one of those things.  She was kind of a loner, a woman who obviously had not traveled the easiest road through life, and perhaps hanging on to the uniqueness of her special-one-of-a-kind quilt was a way for her to feel as if she had control over something.  I was ok with her not sharing, truly.
What I was not ok with was a couple of comments I received yesterday regarding her behavior.  One was just kind of mean, but the other was obscene.  No call for that sort of thing here at all people.  Snarky or off color comments will be deleted.
I got to thinking about the requests I receive every once in a while. Ask me for a pattern, no problem. Ask me how I made something, I'll try to tell you though I don't see myself as the best teacher. 
On the rare occasion when someone asks me to share the pattern for my dancing ladies, I decline.
It's been about twenty years, I think, since I discovered them. I had bought a pair of earrings from a now-defunct mail-order house, and the catalog description said they were inspired by cave drawings somewhere in Spain, drawings that were believed to be thousands of years old. They quickly became favorite earrings, at the time symbolizing me and some of my seminary classmates, Sharon, Ingrid, Linda . . .  Then, sometime later on, Joe drew them for me, between three and six or seven inches tall, and he added more to the original four, and I appliqued them to the back of a vest I was making for a friend's birthday. And then they were appliqued onto a tote bag that I carried for a while. And then as the center of a round robin, the finished of which hangs above my bed. I've been known to applique them onto a block to give to a friend, and those original patterns remain safe and sound in my sewing desk drawer.
They've come to be my logo, my symbol, my totem. 
And I hope I'm not selfish for wanting to keep it that way.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring is Sprung

When I was little, around this time of year, when the daffodil buds were visible, and the hyacinth shoots were beginning to appear, my mother used to say,

Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where
The birdies is

I've no idea whether this was original work on her part, or a well-known rhyme.

I picked up three quilts from the machinist earlier in the week and two of them are bound and shown here. The Louisiana block quilt is for a new little boy and reminds me of the "bluebells" or "grape hyacinths" I used to pick at the end of April when spring really had sprung.

This second quilt has the colors of all of the spring bulbs: the bluebells, the daffodils and the tulips. The blocks are all from the Tula Pink book and the fabrics are mostly from a batik scrap bag that I bought from a vendor at last autumn's quilt show. I had a wonderful time piecing these blocks and arranging them, and am delighted with how it has turned out.

I've mentioned that the church where I work on weekday mornings rents its church school wing to a small school for autistic children. The school is having a major fund-raiser in about a month, and I told the director I would donate a baby quilt for their tombola table. Last time I counted, four of their teachers were expecting, so I think this quilt will find a good home and raise a little money for this wonderful school.

I hope to get the binding on the last quilt over the weekend.

And as for where the birdies is, all seven of our birdhouses are occupied and nest construction has ensued.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bad People

All at once, our evenings were filled with bad people.

It usta be that I didn't watch television at all, apart from Masterpiece Theatre and the occasional special. Oh, there was St. Elsewhere, but that was back in the day, and once it bit the dust (remember that marvelous final episode where the fat lady had laryngitis?), I just quit watching. I didn't much care for sit-coms and as the proportion of commercials increased, it all just became intolerable.

House of Cards changed all of that. I really don't know who I am anymore, television-wise! We got the Roku a year and a month ago, and almost immediately started House of Cards. We sat spellbound, night after night, captivated by some bad people. Bad people that we liked.

When it was over, and we had nearly an entire year to wait for Season Two, we remembered hearing about Mad Men, so we got into that, and liked more bad people who lacked consciences. Getting through all of those seasons took a long time, and by the end, thanks to Facebook, we had become aware of Orange Is The New Black, again full of bad people, but whose antics were so entertaining that we forgot they were bad. We learned a lot from OITNB, too. Things we'd no idea about.

And then, by gum, House of Cards was back, and the people were badder than ever! After that, a FB friend mentioned Lillehammer and everyone had talked about Homeland and then there was quite a bit of hoop-la about Breaking Bad, and so currently we are alternating among those big three. All full of bad people. Bad people that we like, although admittedly, in Homeland, we aren't exactly sure who is bad and who is less bad. But we like them all.

We'd look at each other at 8:30 of a wintery evening, and say, "Who's it going to be? Johnny? Carrie and Brody? Walter and Jesse?" and then watch one. Or two. And go to bed with these dark clouds hanging over us.

So last night was The Eve of The First Day of Spring. We needed a bit of a break. There was a movie that we'd missed when it came out. Back in 1975. We were busy tending to babies and seldom got out. But Joe remembered it.

So we spent last evening with The Great Waldo Pepper, and nobody was bad and nearly everyone was lovable. And I, for one, went to bed and dreamed of Robert Redford.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Shopping and Cats

A couple of people seemed to think I was holding back by not posting pictures of my spoils from the Lancaster Show on Friday! Honest, I wasn't trying to hide anything.

So, by popular demand: On the left are the F8s I bought from the Procion booth; they feel soft and smooth to the touch and the colors are intense. On the right are the hand-dyes I bought from the African booth. The fabric has a coarser feel to it -- and I don't mean that in an unkind way at all! It is just different, and I like it. Prolly will fondle all of these goodies for a long time before cutting. In the foreground is my little ruler holder.The ruler in the back measures 12" and the greenish one 6", so you can get an idea how perfect the size of it is.

And here's my progress on those crazy primitive cats. Blocks 1, 2 and 3 complete. Block 4 is on the handwork pile for evening buttonhole stitch and embroidery. Blocks 5 and 6 are the ones I need fabric for. Block 7 is moving along toward the handwork pile, i.e., the background is pieced and the body parts cut out. But there is embroidery to do on the background before the cat -- and birdie -- can be bonded down.

I'm farther along on this that I would have thought when I dug it out a few weeks ago. But who knows how long that will last!!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

And If It's A Boy . . .

. . . that's fine, too!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Baby Girl Quilt, Tied and Bound

I mentioned earlier that the neighbor's fourth child is due before this month is out. I finished binding the girl version the other night and am happy with how it turned out.

Joe suggested not trimming the ties but to leave them flowy. I wasn't sure about that, but when I consulted with the Uvulati, they were in agreement, so flowy ties it is.

The boy version is being bound and will in all likelihood be finished for show and tell tomorrow.

The rest of the household is just as industrious, although it doesn't really appear that way.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lancaster Quilt Show, 2014

Today, Bobbi and Marsha and I set forth before 8:30 to go to the quilt show in Lancaster. By the time we got there, the parking garage we preferred was filled up, but we found another nearby. We followed the ladies with bags and soon were at the Convention Center. We got there just at ten o'clock, so we really made very good time. We split up upon arrival, agreeing to meet for lunch.

Frankly, there were not a whole lot of quilts that I was crazy about. I had my usual complaint, i.e., that so many were arty quilts rather than bed quilts.

This colorful wall quilt caught my eye. I wouldn't make it, but I did like it.

I also liked this quilt called "Broken Ladder" a whole lot. The fabric appeared to be all hand-dyes and I think it warranted the ribbon it received.

I'm revisiting hand-dyes stashwise. For years I bought from a vendor at the old Lancaster show, Millie Chirbuck; her fabrics were just gorgeous. Unfortunately for me, Millie has retired. Her work was very much like Cherrywood, and I thought I would stop and visit them at the show. But they were nowhere to be found.

I did find three vendors with hand-dyes. The first one didn't suit me. The colors were nice enough, but I really didn't like the feel of the fabric. I bought from the other two vendors; one was a Procion booth and the person at the booth really wanted me to buy supplies and do my own. I told her I wasn't ready to dye and bought a rainbow of F8s. The second booth had hand-dyes imported from Uganda! They had a kind of coarse feel to them, which is something that ordinarily wouldn't be to my taste. But I bought two yard pieces and a pack of F8s.

Look! Here's See Rock City. I'm very familiar with this quilt, having seen every single barn come together on Julie's website, and I've liked it so much. But that didn't prepare me for seeing it "in person." Up close and personal, it is nothing short of stunning. I had trouble moving away from it.

When Julie learned that it had been accepted into the show, we talked about her coming up to visit it. Of course she would stay with me, and we'd go to the show, and I'd invite the Renegades in to meet her, and we'd go out to TDFKAZ and Burkholders. We had a wonderful weekend planned. I was just about ready to make up the guest room, when the airline ticket cost put the kabosh on our plans. So I had to go see Rock City without her.

I would have given it a ribbon. A great big blue one.

How fortunate was I to have two blog friends who had quilts in this show! Anya made Jane As A Teenager which was a refreshing and exciting change from the bazillion muted Janes I've seen over the years. We met up soon after I arrived at the show and wandered around a bit. We leaned way over the chain so that Anya could point to individual blocks and tell me how she made them. I was dazzled. She spoke of having had participated in a support group while making Jane, and I wasn't surprised. Anya is as lovely as I'd expected her to be. We bumped into each other later on; she had just bought a pair of shoes that had all of the colors from the quilt in them!

Bobbi and Marsha and I met up with some friends from the Guild and had lunch together. It was one of them who put me onto the Ugandan hand dyes booth. Once again I resisted purchasing one of those great big gorgeous African baskets. But it is just a matter of time.

On the way out of Lancaster, we made a brief stop at the "Renegades Mall," a group of vendors that are across the highway from the site of the old Lancaster show. Many of the ones I remembered weren't there, but the Hmong were there with their intricate pieced and embroidered goods, and there were an abundance of "country" type vendors. One small stand had some small-size wooden ruler holders and I bought one. Joe had given me a great big baskety kind of thing for holding rulers and cutters and blades and things. But the small ones would get buried. Now I can have them close at hand and in sight.

So that was our day at the show. None of us was very impressed overall. Bobbi pointed out that her going to a quilt show and not buying any fabric should tell us something. It was a good day for friends -- both bloggy and local -- and nice to be out together and wander around. Nice to do a little shopping and see a few really nice quilts.

And now I'm home. And ready to stock my ruler-holder and fondle my hand dyes.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sewing What I Have

A neighbor is expecting a baby this month; it is her fourth and she has three girls. I usually only make quilts for first babies, but decided awhile back that fourth babies were entitled to something new. During my recent clean-and-purge, I found "boy" and "girl" flimsies, enough batt left-overs for them, and also adequate fabric for backing. I bought two skeins each of DMC rose and aqua and last night got "girl" tied. Today I'm going to stop at LQS and pick up a half-yard of something to bind her. Then I'm going to start tying "boy." It's only a matter of time until one of them will be going to a new home.

I have finished 70 of those little 6" Tula Pink blocks in shades of black and gray, laid them out, and pinned them into columns. I think I might have enough background fabric (white) to start putting that quilt together. It is going to be a tedious task with 1" finished lattice. My current leader-ender project in orange-green-yellow-brown will be a nice contrast and it is at the stage where a bazillion HSTs need to be made. So that's what's happening at my place.

The applique on blocks two and three for the primitive cats is complete and I have gone so far as to take the fabrics and directions for block four out of the wrapper. Then I discovered that for incomprehensible reasons, I have only directions and no fabric packs for blocks five and six. Not to be thwarted, I've come up with a plan to make block four, set it aside, and move on with blocks seven through twelve. If I'm still alive after that, I'll lay them all out and invent fabric choices for five and six. When one-through-three is assembled into a row, I'll post a pic.

Apart from some grays for two projects that were already in progress, I haven't bought any new fabric since before the first of the year. I'm going to the Lancaster show at the end of this week, though, so prolly some small stash enhancement may ensue.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Words to Live By

My friend Sue shared this on Facebook and I believe it warrants widespread distribution. 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Colorful Strings

The last time the Renegades went on retreat, I urged participants to bring along any orphan blocks they might have to give away. My friend Susan collects them and finds ways to put them to use in mercy quilts. In particular, she likes to make quilts for wounded soldiers and for children of soldiers. The Renegades, of course, did not disappoint; several of them brought offerings. Turbo, in particular, brought a huge pile of scrappy blocks -- there must have been two or three dozen house blocks; it will be fun to see what Susan does with them.

Turbo also brought a dozen string blocks, each of the twelve made up of four smaller blocks. I told her I wasn't going to send them to Susan, but use them for a mercy quilt of my own. In the past couple of weeks when I've been immersed in black and gray, they provided a welcome relief. I sewed them together in rows, found a scrap of batt just the right size, discovered a suitable piece for a back and some already made binding. I even found a couple of unopened skeins of floss, both the same color, even, and got this quilt together over several evenings.

My Circle at church has decided that in the months of the semi-annual rummage sale we will gather things for the Baby Bureau to use in their parcels for needy moms and their children. I like to contribute a quilt or two each time, and I think this one -- thanks to Turbo -- will bring cheer to a mom and warmth to her little one.

Monday, March 03, 2014

A Word To The Wise

If you are crazy enough to undertake the project of going back through 1700+ posts to add labels, be certain to click "Update" only one time. Clicking it a second time, even unintentionally, results in reposting the post under the current date, for which there appears to be no remedy.

Happened to me twice today and once earlier in this lengthy process, of which I am not quite one-third finished, so it very well may happen again......

Wait 'Til the Cows Come Home: Part One

This bright and beautiful cow came home last night, courtesy of Marsha.  Isn't it great?

Marsha!  You forgot to sign it.  Fortunately you live nearby and we can remedy this.

A couple of people have told me their cows are on the way.

Today I mailed out all of the things that people requested in exchange for their cows.

Volleyball Memories

One of the terrific things about working at an independent school is the freedom to attend events.  Each year I wander over to the Lower School holiday program, check in on the 8th grade independent study display, go to a marvelous classical music concert with guest musicians from Curtis Institute, and pick and choose among other assembly programs.  Today was something new:  The faculty vs. student volleyball game.  A blanket invitation went out to all faculty and staff; people were needed for the team.  I did not volunteer.  It may not surprise you to hear that sports and athletics never have been my particular thing.

But I went over to spectate, and an equally clumsy coworker said to me, "I can't remember the last time I played volleyball.  Can you?"

Actually, I can.

It was in June, 1963.

I had just arrived at a camp experience for young adults who had graduated from high school within the past year or two.  I was delighted to reconnect with my old camp friend, Karen, who I never saw at all during the rest of the year.  She had a guy with her, a new guy, who was very tall, kind of cute, and had red hair that was not quite the same shade as Karen's.  I presumed he was her boyfriend, but soon she wandered off to connect with someone else, leaving the two of us together.  Turned out he wasn't her boyfriend, just a guy from her church.  At that point he was no longer kind of cute, but actually downright cute.  We were just getting acquainted when the call came out:  The all-camp volleyball game was about to start!

There was nothing that could have held less appeal for me.  But the red-head, it seemed, had been a basketball player, and couldn't keep away from something that involved a net and a ball. And he was getting cuter by the minute. So off we went, one to the green team and the other to the white team.

The guy must have thought me to be cute, too, because he intentionally kept serving the darned ball right at me.  I thought it would never end.

I no longer remember which team won.  And I've never played volleyball again.

But I married the guy.  And he's still pretty cute.

Gray on the Inside, Gray on the Outside

The little 6" finished black and gray blocks continue. I have lost count of how many I have made at this point. I just know that I have fewer than twenty-five until there are enough for the layout that I'm working toward. It is one of the designs in the back of Tula Pink's book and it looks like skyscrapers. I have a clothes basket full of all of the gray and black and black/white and gray/white fabrics I had around, including some I acquired for this project and some that were begged from friends. It is going to be a nifty quilt, and, frankly, I do not look forward to the assembly process -- there are a million skinny little lattices that must be lined up  . . . .

But I tell you, between the gray on the wall in the studio and the gray of the dirty snow and the clouds outside my window, I have about enough gray going on.

The remedy, of course, was to start a lively leader-ender project. I dug into the bin of CWs and pulled out some oranges, some greens, and some yellows and started working on a dozen blocks. I had seen a photo of a quilt on Pinterest that I liked very much; it had a lot going on and was bright colors. So that's what I'm trying to do. The blocks will each have HST borders and then there will be lattice and cornerstones and lions and tigers and bears and a border or two and this leader-ender top will be the absolute antithesis of the skyscrapers!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

"Crabby," Near Philadelphia

It hadn't happened in a long, long time. But it happened last night.

I was in my early teens when I learned I was allergic to shrimp. I had never really liked shrimp so it wasn't a problem. I loved other shellfish, though: oysters, clams, mussels; liked lobsters and crab and then discovered soft-shell crabs and for a few years was able to bask in their deliciousness. Then, gradually, the allergy spread and now I don't eat shellfish at all. Fortunately fish and calamari are still perfectly fine.

My allergy isn't the hives-breathing-eyes watering-throat closing variety. It is not life-threatening. It has a different manifestation: vomiting, diarrhea, and severe chill. It occurs six hours after I inadvertently consume shellfish. Not at all life-threatening, but an inconvenience and unpleasant way to spend the night.

The waiter can carry a platter of shellfish past me. My dining companion can luxuriate in scallops. No problem. But I cannot sample a sauce if there are shrimps in that sauce. And I never take a taste of anything from Joe's plate if he has something that is even topped with a shrimp. Usually, everything is just fine. But once every couple of years someone in a restaurant kitchen will handle a piece of shellfish and then handle my food. I have no way of knowing. Until six hours later.

Last night we used a gift card to try an upscale restaurant we'd not visited before. The food was impeccable; I had foie gras on parsnip latke and then a glorious lamb shank with creamy, cheesy grits and roasted brussels sprouts. I kept a respectable distance from Joe's meal, both courses of which involved shellfish of some sort. No problem.

Until 2:00 a.m.