Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Little of This, A Little of That

Arg!! Blogger was doing so well!! My photos loaded correctly...until I got to the little quiltlet. sigh. You'll have to tip your laptop again, sorry Kristin! But the rest of the group are right-side up. They seem to have my quilt work tagged as "must be tipped." grrr.

So. Deep breath. Breathe in, breathe out. whew! Much better.

As I took the garbage out yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised by blooming roses. My poor rosebushes are terribly neglected, and they offer very few blooms over the course of the year. When I saw these, I immediately decided to bring them inside, so that I can truly enjoy them.

I get my love of roses from my dad. When we were kids, he had over 125 rose bushes in the backyard. I remember them well. Whenever I got in trouble, I was sent out to weed the rosebushes. I was out there at least once a week, usually more. But I digress.

Yesterday I received quite a surprise in the mail. My sister sent a note, and this card was included in the envelope.

Inside it says, "Happy Birthday Granddaddy! Love Suzie." Wow. I don't remember the card, I don't remember making it, I don't remember ever having even marginal success with watercolor. But apparently at some time in my youth I was inspired. I'm thinking it would be fun to transfer this image to fabric and thread-paint it, like I did to my daughter's orchid drawing. If I do that, don't worry, there will be pictures...even if it is a dismal failure.

As I worked on the birthday quiltlet that I showed in my last post, I started playing with the odds and ends in my "tropical UFO" box. I began putting pieces on the design wall and sewing up 4.5" squares to fill in the blanks. It made me smile, so the pieces are still up. Here's what I've got so far.

There were strips in the box, as well as blocks, so I thought it might be a good idea to make some of them into this journal cover...

There were squares in the box as well, so I put this together. It's not at all finished, it will be embellished. I just thought it would be fun to show all the things I did while "playing" yesterday.

Finally, as I was looking for potential embellishments for the above sideways quiltlet, I started rummaging through Mother's buttons. There are so many of them, and they were such a jumble, I thought it might behoove me to separate them by color. (I just happened to pick up these Hershey kiss tins for 50 cents apiece. I knew they'd come in handy.)

There aren't as many colored buttons as I thought there were, but they are definitely much easier to paw through now. I still have a large cannister of white, black, metal, and carded buttons, but those can wait. It was the colors that were calling me, so for now, I'm done.

With that, I'm off to play...and finish spackling the back bedroom in preparation for painting...

Friday, September 26, 2008

A (tipsy) Little Pretty

Well hiss and spit. Why does Blogger have it out for my photos? It seems like they've flipped at least one picture in every post this past week. I know, I know, it's free service. deal with it. But still. This little pretty looks much nicer when it's shown right side up instead of on its ear. sigh.

Not much happening in the "studio," but I did get this bday card together today...albeit 3 weeks late. I'm operating on the "better late than never" motto these days, because "on time" just doesn't seem to be happening.

And that's all, folks, at least for now. You're not forgotten...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Old Chair, New Chair

Or maybe it's new old chair and old newer chair, I'm not sure.

This is a chair that I've had for a few years. I bought it through the classifieds, along with five other chairs and a table. Earlier this year I sat on this one. It was like Goldilocks meets Baby Bear's chair - it didn't exactly smash to smithereens, but it didn't survive the experience either.

Since that episode, I've been on the lookout for a replacement. I've looked high and low, to no avail. I've even hoped I could find someone to repair the chair, but haven't been able to. I put an oak chair at the kitchen table, knowing that it was temporary. Today the oak chair moved out of the kitchen.

This is the new chair. I found it at Rescued Treasures, the thrift store of the Visalia Rescue Mission. It's almost the right color, and it's sturdy. It looks well made, and when I flipped it over, I saw that it was indeed made in the USA. wow. It must be old.

When I got home, I cleaned it up and put it at the table. It doesn't match-match, but it looks better than the oak did. The chair is labeled "Nichols & Stone Gardner, Mass." When I looked it up online, I found out that they are a long time US furniture maker, and were recently(?) bought out by Stickley. hmmm. Do I have good taste? I think so. I may not know names or values, but I do recognize something with nice lines that is well built.

What do you think? I paid $25... Did I get a deal? I think maybe I did...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Not Much...

Can you stand more cat pictures? Hecate is usually on the run or in the dark, so pictures of her are very hard to come by. But now that she's bonded with Charlie and Edgar, she seems to be much calmer about hanging around the house. She usually bolts when she hears the camera, but today she didn't. She's such a pretty thing, it's too bad she's so skittish...

Here she is again. I'm not sure what she's looking at, but then, neither is she...

Finally, here is the most recent creation from the sewing cave. Yes folks, it's lost room status, and it's not even close to a Studio. It's such a mess I can't find a thing. The place is topsy-turvy, just like this photo. Sorry about that. I'm blaming the photo on Blogger...

Hopefully this card will be put in the mail in the next day or two. Goals are good!

Happy quilting!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Welcome Home!

As the kids leave for college, the quilts are starting to return. On Saturday, my 2007 Hoffman Challenge came home, bringing with it a friend. I like the looks of that friend, don't you?

"Encompassing Tradition"
2007 Hoffman Challenge
Suzanne Kistler

The quilt is much better than I remember it, but wow. It definitely needs to be blocked. I'd finished it at the last minute, shoved it in a shipping envelope and wished it good luck. After traveling for a year, I'm delighted to have it back. I can't say that I missed it - I was sick of it when I mailed it - but wow. Now we'll have a chance to get to know each other from a distance, rather than the up-close and too personal knowledge of the hand-quilting process.

On a different note, I just hung this in the bathroom. When I was visiting my dad for his birthday, I brought home a bag full of shells that my mom had set aside. They were all quite pretty, and I didn't want to lose them in a cupboard, so I put them in a shadow box.

Shadow boxes are my new favorite thing. I've used a few to display "art" quilts, and they make the quilts actually look like art. Now I've got some of Mother's shells on display. I can look at them for months on end without having to dust them. It's a beautiful thing.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cute Purse!

Last week I mentioned the lecture in which Melinda Bula urged us to "make art."

Art is something I struggle with. I took Art in high school, but it was only the slide identification in the Art History portion of the class that pulled me through. I took an Art class in college. When my Prof examined my final portfolio, he looked me in the eye and said, "You are NOT an artist. (You can click on "prof" and see an example of his work. He was right. I'm not that kind of artist.)

Anyway, he encouraged me to visit the Design Department, but who had time to do that? I needed to graduate, not find a new distraction.

Since that time, I've struggled with the whole concept of being an artist. I'm definitely not an artist with a capital A. I'm probably not even a small letter "a" artist. But I LOVE to quilt. I love fabric and texture and embellishment and all the things that together tend to light a spark of creativity deep within me.

I've had a small block in my UFO pile for quite a while, and I added some triangles a few weeks ago, giving it an elongated shape. I'd even wondered if I might be able to turn it into a purse. Well looky there! I could! Melinda told us to "make art," "make something to please yourself" and I decided to just go with it. With such a small project, I couldn't get in too far over my head, and I did feel like being "creative."

Oh, guess what. Blogger is feeling creative too. It flipped my pictures. arg!! I'd try reloading them, but I suspect it will just give me more of the same. We'll just have to work with it...

This is the front of the purse. It's got a raw-edge appliqu├ęd fish, a wooden fish, and a few glass beads for embellishment.

I used velcro to close it. What do you think of the feather quilting? It is unmarked free-motion quilting. Since I knew it wouldn't show, it was a good opportunity to practice...

This is the back. I think it is particularly cute. sigh. Too bad it's all tipsy in the picture. sigh.

I haven't used it yet. It measures 6" x 8", and is big enough for ID, plastic, and a couple of tissues...and maybe some keys. It's small, but I like it anyway. Is it art? I have no idea. But it IS pretty cute, even if I do say so myself...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

World Alzheimer's Day - Sept 21

I've tried more than once to create picture links to other websites, but haven't had much luck. I suspect the same will happen today, so I've done the hot link in words.

Ami Simms, the mastermind behind the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, has begun a new Purple Patch Project. "World Alzheimer's Day" is Sept 21. Ami's goal is to get bloggers and web-hosts around the world to create patches in honor of those we know who have suffered or are suffering the ravages of Alzheimer's. As she says, we all know someone who has been affected. Often that person is a family member.

This particular patch is in memory of my Uncle Warner. He suffered from a particularly fast-moving and devastating version of the disease. He succumbed to it very quickly, compared to most stories I've heard.

This post would be incomplete, were I not to include a patch for Pete's grandmother. She's been ravaged by this disease for a number of years now. I can't even begin to imagine.

I guess that's about all I have to say at the moment. If you have time, please click on the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative link. Each month small quilts are offered for sale through silent auction, to raise funds to combat this disease and perhaps find a cure. But until that happens? We have to do whatever we can to help, even if it's just adding virtual awareness...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Finishing Touches

Last week I finished up my for-hire work, at least for the time being. At my husband's office, they've been making babies faster than I can make quilts. Two are due in October, and I recently learned of a third, due early next year.

What better task than to finish the baby quilts I'd started and get ahead, eh?

Clark Zvonar is due first. This is his quilt. You can't see the barns and farm animals, but it's perfect for the son of a dairy vet.

King Baby #3 is due next. Boy or girl, it doesn't matter. Dad graduated from Auburn, and each child has received a blue and orange quilt with the requisite tiger references. Usually I add eagles as well, but not this time.

I was out of eagle fabric, but I have plenty of cow fabric. Baby King's dad is also a dairy vet.

Here's the third quilt. I patted myself on the back, since I was "one quilt ahead." That lasted for about 12 hours. Then Pete announced, "Hey, Pam's daughter had a baby today!" The binding went on the quilt, along with a label, and the quilt went out the door. Isn't it cute?

Finally, today was Label Day. I try to keep each quilt's record on the back of the quilt, and one of this year's goals was to keep my labels up-to-date. I fell behind. I made 10 labels today, here's what some of them look like...

You can see the pins, holding on the new labels, but I'm not really caught up. The King baby's quilt needs a label - I need to know his/her name first. Two quilts are in Oregon for the Northwest Quilting Expo, they'll need labels when they come home. "Cascading Crystal Kaweah" heads to Pacific International next month - it will need a label for that as well.

Good thing I made a dent in my label list, can you imagine if I'd put it off any longer? yikes! So much to do, so little time!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thread Painting

On Thursday, Melinda Bula came to visit the local quilt guild. She is a quilt-artist extraordinaire, who has come into her own with her distinctive style of painting with fabric. She talked of being an artist, and encouraged us to "just make art for yourselves! Don't make projects simply to please others. Experiment, try new things. Do something just for the fun of it!"

Well, her words must have hit home, because in between sewing binding on baby quilts, I've been making "art." The project I began on Friday is halfway done. Perhaps I'll finish it this coming week. Today I found a picture that I'd printed on fabric last month. I'd wanted to do something with it, and now I have...

This is a card that my daughter made for me several years ago, for Mother's Day. She gave me permission to replicate it in fabric...I hope she remembers! ;)

Thread Painting seems to be all the rage, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. The results are okay, but wow. This piece is 5" x 7", and it took a couple of hours. I can't imagine doing this on a large quilt. I definitely have a better appreciation for those who do this on a large scale. It made my eyes go buggy.

This it the back. It's just batting. Maybe I should have put that third layer on after all. Or not. The back doesn't look half bad.

Here are the card and the unfinished quiltlet side by side. I suppose I could have waited until I had exactly the right colors of thread, but I didn't. I used what I had. yep. I do have a pretty big thread stash...(It's all Sulky and aurefil.)

Finally, here is the finished quiltlet. Doesn't that Ricky Tims hand-dye just set it off perfectly?

So. I've posted this just to let you know that I haven't been idle. My mind's been whirling and I've been playing. I wouldn't want any judges too look closely at my work, but all-in-all, it was a lot of fun. Thanks for the encouragement, Melinda!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tulare County Fair - Spoiler Alert

Yesterday was the opening day of the Tulare County Fair. Every year the goal is to put on a terrific quilt display, and this year's edition was quite a knockout. Entries were up 50 quilts from last year. Holy cow, the people of Tulare are quilting like crazy!!! I hear entries in other categories are down, but hey, who has time to do other stuff if we're all quilting, right?

You need to log off right now, if you don't want to know some results. But if you do, stick with me. I've got a few pictures, including the Best of Shows...

First, I thought I'd show you how some of my quilt customers did with their entries. I thought I got them all, but I now know that I missed at least one. It's getting to the point that I've quilted so many quilts, they're beginning to blur...

Lone Star by Denise Sisco

Garden Twist by Phyllis Ogden

Sunbonnet Sue by Glenda Lancaster

A Year in Red by Carletta Emitte

It's often hard to know why one quilt placed and another didn't. At the fair, there are SO many categories, you have no idea which quilts were your competition. I saw Glenda yesterday, who was sad that her quilt had gotten a third. I told her that she should be delighted. Large quilts quilted by someone else is a HUGE category, and she was able to hold her own. Phyllis's quilt is stunning, yet there it hangs, without a ribbon. It HAS to be the competition...

Here are the Best of Show quilts, so you can see the county's cream of the crop...

quilt by Sharon Scholta
Best of Show, Machine Quilted by another

redwork by Kathy Wasnick
Best of Show, Handquilted

quilt by Debbie Van Fossen
Best of Show, Machine-quilted by self
Best of Show, Overall (amateur)

quilt by Ann Hinman
Best of Show, Professional

I have to say that I was thrilled that Ann's Best of Show quilt was hand-quilted. There were very few hand-quilted quilts this year. Rumor has it that there were only three hand-quilted quilts entered in the amateur division. The one that won Best Handquilting is not overly big. Maybe it's 45 x 45"? That's just a guess - it was hanging out of reach...

I've been asked how my entries fared. Two were machine-quilted, two were hand-quilted. The difference between entering as an amateur and as a professional (besides the lack of premiums) is that the amateur division is judged using the American System of Judging. This means that each entry is judged in relation to its peers. In the professional category, they use the Danish System of Judging. That means that each entry is judged on its own merit.

Does that make sense? In a field of 20, using the American System of Judging, there will be one First, one Second, one Third. In a field of 20, using the Danish System of Judging, there could theoretically be 20 First place winners.

So, now that you've got that straight, here are my entries. Yes, I am a professional...

Waving at Tradition
hand-quilted (2006 Hoffman Challenge)
Suzanne Kistler

"It Is Well"
Suzanne Kistler, 2008

"Psalm 46:10 Be Still"
Suzanne Kistler, 2008

"Cascading Crystal Kaweah"
machine quilted, hand-beaded
Suzanne Kistler, 2008

And there you go, a taste of what is at the County Fair. There are hundreds of other quilts to see as well. It's well worth the $7 entry fee - there are close to 300 quilts on display. And with that, I'll wish you a good day!!!

Pray For Our Troops

It was with a jolt that I saw today's date on a blog this morning. September 11...may we never forget.

Seven years ago, I was sitting at the computer, typing blithely away, when the phone rang. It was my husband telling me to turn on the news: the radio, the TV, it didn't matter. It was 6:30am, and the world had changed. The whole world was sent reeling, forever.

Several months ago, my friend Sharon asked me to "test sew" a pattern for her. I avoid wonder-under if possible, so I was her ideal guinea pig. I put the top together, and eventually quilted most of it.

God is good.

I had some free time on Tuesday, so I finished the quilting. Yesterday I bound and sleeved it. I even snapped a picture, not having a clue of today's date. My only planned post this morning was a fluff-piece about the county fair...which I will get to after this.

But for now, I'll lay this time aside to pass along a request: Please

Pray For Our Troops
pattern by Sharon L. Schlotzhauer
sewn by Suzanne Kistler
September 10, 2008

If you are interested in buying the pattern, leave a comment with contact information. I'll pass it along to Sharon, and hopefully get you in touch with one another. And I guess I'll leave it at that...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Travel Pictures

Most of this new set of pictures are courtesy of Adam. He thought it great fun to snap pictures of me snapping pictures. Yes, I do have a picture of myself and the flash as my camera went off. I have quite a number of them!!!

On our first day in Berlin, we walked, and walked, and walked. It was a walking marathon. We were in search of Fruehstueck. (That would be breakfast for you non-German speakers.) Daniel was just beginning to grumble and mumble when we came across Humboldt University. Pete also got really excited, and I hadn't a clue why. He was excited because this is (or used to be) the Vet School.

Daniel was more impressed that this was where Max Planck (renowned Physicist) taught. See? He was REALLY jazzed. ;)

By Friday, the novelty of Berlin had worn off. Either that, or we were worn out. Or perhaps it was a bit of both. Adam took this of Pete and me, waiting for the Bahn...

Saturday's trip to Miltenberg was delightful. What a change from the concrete and construction of Berlin!!! Isn't this building front cute?!! Look how big it is! I'm the little person in white, in the bottom right corner...

After a mid-day snack, we hiked up to see the Mildenburg Castle. I've already shown you pictures of the view, but I didn't have a picture of the hike...(and once we got to the landing, there was a tower to climb...)

Here we are, on our walk back to town. Even the alleys are cute in Miltenberg...

On Sunday, we drove to Esslingen. Here is Pete (our driver extraordinaire) preparing to get back on the Autobahn. Even the pavement on the turnout is quaint. Don't you just love it?

Here's a view of Esslingen. See how the hills are covered with vineyards? I'm assuming they're for making wine, not table grapes, but I could be wrong. Everything about the place was scenic.

Finally, here I am looking forward to digging into a plate full of Schwabisch roast beef. We didn't eat very often (usually 2 meals, or a snack and a meal), so when we had the opportunity to EAT, we took advantage of it.

I think that's about it for pictures from Germany, unless I run across more that I want to share. In retrospect, I'm very glad we went. It was exhausting, but it was a nice break from our valley heat. And it was good to see how they live on the other side of the world. It's given me a new appreciation for just how good we have it here. I no longer take things for granted, that's for sure!!!