Wednesday, April 30, 2008

no pictures

Poor blog readers. I feel like I've been ignoring you, but I haven't had anything to share. Nothing. zip. nada. The mind's a blank. Maybe that's because the nest is empty. We're officially on EN Day 3, and like I said, the mind's a blank. And that means not much inspiration around here either. sigh.

I've been working on quilts-for-hire: quilt, quilt, quilt, take a sip of coffee, quilt, quilt, quilt some more. It doesn't sound very exciting, does it? The excitement is that someone's quilt is going to be finished, and that's all good.

I'm mighty pleased to have finished my own little quilt a few posts back, and I continue to sit on my laurels for that one. And my "Be Still" quilt is already home from Paducah: Quilt, pray tell, what did you see? What did you hear while you were there? If only it could tell me, but it won't.

I'm in between shows at the moment. All quilts have come home to roost, with the exception of my 2007 Hoffman and some quilts that are out for photography and patterning.

Yes, it's a lazy day in California, and I just wanted to say, "Hi!"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Iris Festival

Well. I've finally done it. I've found the time to drive to Porterville and check out their annual Iris Festival. My first stop was the Festival itself. There's not much iris in the festival, that's for sure.

It was your basic street faire with junk food and carnies and "craft" booths. ugh. For some reason their advertising had me thinking that they were going to have iris-themed art for sale. I must have confused them with the quilt show and its quality vendors. These folks were hawking junk. I walked two blocks down one side of the street and the two blocks back. I don't know how far the festival stretched, but I didn't have enough interest to stay with them.

The main attraction for me was the chance to see the Sutton Iris Garden. Wow. If you like iris, prepare to be overwhelmed. Blooming iris stretch as far as the eye can see.

As you walk behind the house, you find neatly tended rows of iris, studded with blooming snapdragons and dianthus. These are followed by neatly tended rows of iris only.

And then, the fields stretch almost as far as the eye can see.

It was like going to the quilt show at Paducah. Every where I turned, I saw more and more beautiful iris. There's no way to even pretend I could take enough pictures or begin to remember what I'd seen.
Tennison Ridge

Fit For a King

Midnight Cowboy - oops, tilt your head please :)

El Presidente

I discovered that I am NOT an iris connoisseur. I don't know much about them at all, and I prefer them fairly simple. I LOVE single-color-saturated iris, with minimal ruffling, like Midnight Cowboy. But it seems like the majority of the iris are paler and multi-colored, with this color beards and that color standards... They are all beautiful. If you want to adopt some, how does one choose? I have no idea.

But choose I did. They had several bins of rhizomes available for $4 each. I selected 2 Tennison Ridge (the dark purple with the white spot), Gratuity (bright orange), and Blatant (with coloring similar to El Presidente). I didn't want to get carried away, then again, I didn't want to go away empty-handed. I can always order online, if I get the urge. :)

The iris garden is out in the middle of the country. Rather than back-track to Pville and the highway, I stuck to the country roads. It's been a long, long time since I've been out there. I don't remember all of those nice dairies. wow. impressive!!

But the best part of the drive home was passing the strawberry stand. Strawberries are one of the best parts of Visalia in April. Yum, yum, don't they make your mouth water?!!!

And that's my field trip for today. Now it's time to get to work!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Little Pretties

This year I promised myself that I would keep current with birthday greetings. I almost made it successfully through March. Then things fell by the wayside. For the multiple April birthdays, I've had a very poor showing indeed. In fact, I've only sent two quilted cards this month. Good intentions and all that.

Here's what I was able to come up with.

First, for my friend Sanah, who is the frozen vegetable queen of the USA... I forget what her real title is, but she's a national sales rep or something to that effect. I sent her a veggie card, to celebrate the big 5-0. (The back of the card is zucchini fabric.)

My sister also had a birthday. I bought the beautiful butterfly pin at the quilt show for her birthday gift, then made it a pretty place to land when she's not wearing it.

And finally, you didn't think I'd post without sharing yet another gorgeous iris, did you? This one's been blooming all week and I'm all smiles.

Tomorrow the neighboring town has an Iris Festival. If I get enough work done, I'll pay it a visit. I might even buy an iris or two. But I shouldn't start counting my iris before those quilts get quilted. Back to work!! Hope you enjoyed the pretties. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beaded Beauty

Good morning!! Yes, it is a very good morning! I have finished a "show quilt," and I am THRILLED. More than two years in the making, this one is done. It is sleeved and labeled, and I've taken pictures. I've burned my first CD, and today I will fill out the entry form for its first show. I am excited. The end result pleases me.

In previous posts, I've mentioned the class I took at Empty Spools (Asilomar) with Cynthia Corbin. The class was called "Deceptively Simple," and I spent the week doing river studies. Our final project was to incorporate all that we'd learned, but there was no way I could finish what my mind imagined. At least not during that week - it took two years! ;) By our final class session, I'd only pieced about 1/6 of the upper left corner. It took a year to finish the top, over a month to machine quilt it, and six months to bead. No exaggerations there, let me assure you.

Cascading Crystal Kaweah
21.75" x 40.75"
Suzanne Kistler - April 2008

Cascading Crystal Kaweah - Close-up
Suzanne Kistler - April 2008

I think this quilt can safely be labeled "art." It has no purpose other than to hang on the wall for visual pleasure. It is small enough to fit above the mantle, which is where it's likely to end up quite soon.

There are so many beads that the quilt is heavier than expected. That hadn't bothered me at all, until someone mentioned a beaded gown on display at the Smithsonian - she said that after hanging for a while, the dress stretched 6" from the beads. eek. Not my idea of fun. Will my quilt stretch? Now I'm afraid to hang it, for fear that the weight of the beads will distort it.

Ah well, live and learn. If it distorts, I'll re-block it and hope for the best. In the meantime, I'm trusting the quilting and beading to hold the layers firmly in place. But you never know, it might end up having a will of its own.

In any case, I am thrilled to report that this quilt is FINISHED, and I can mark one more off of my unfinished quilt list. Thank you, Lord! :)

While I've been inside working, my garden has also been busy. One of my new iris plants burst into bloom, but the stalks crashed from the weight. I cut them and brought them inside, with the other blooms that have fallen over. Isn't this the most beautiful thing ever? I've never seen anything like it. It looks like it's made from plum-colored velvet. It is simply luscious. I love it!

Thank you, Jeanette, for sharing your rhizomes!!! And now, I'm off to quilt-for-hire. ttfn!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Quilt Show!!!

What a day, what a day!!! Yesterday was a joy and delight, spent exploring all the nooks and crannies of the latest installment of Best of the Valley. Wow. Exhausting, but wonderful! :)

This year the show was held in a tent. I had my reservations when I heard the plan, but other than the heat, the tent was a good idea. There were more vendors than usual, which means I shopped more than usual. The quilts were well-lit and each was displayed to its advantage.

I usually don't take pictures at shows, other than of my own quilts and those of friends, but this year I used my camera. I've been told I should show pictures of my quilt-for-hire work, but I usually don't take them. Five of the quilts I've quilted were in the show, so I thought it would be fun to show you what they look like, both full-view and close-up. I apologize for the fuzziness. My camera seems to have developed some issues. sigh.

Unfortunately I don't know the official names of the first two quilts, so I'll just label them with their patterns...

Cheryl Mitchell

Cheryl Mitchell - Bargello - close-up

Linda Toledo

Linda Toledo - Baskets - close-up

A Year In Red
Carletta Emitte

A Year In Red - Carletta Emitte - close-up

Starry, Starry Night
Kathleen Morrison

Starry, Starry Night - Kathleen Morrison - close-up

Garden Twist II
Phyllis Ogden

Garden Twist II - Phyllis Ogden - close-up

I was thrilled to see that three of the five won ribbons. Yay!!! You all remember this large purple quilt, right? I was thrilled that as I walked in the door, I saw Phyllis and the first thing she said was, "We won a ribbon!" I'm so happy for her! Congratulations, one and all.

The show was really good, and I continue to be amazed by the skill of our local quilters. Their quilts and craftsmanship are always improving, and the newest quilters start at a far higher level than I did. Maybe taking classes helps? :) Of course having books and magazines along with the classes also help - these things weren't readily available back in the early 80's when I got started.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the wonderful owner of the Quilted Counterpane in Davis back in 1982. I don't even know her name, but she was the one who showed me the running stitch. I didn't know what I was doing, but the 10 minutes she gave me blossomed into the gift of a lifetime. I was stunned to walk into the quilt show and find this quilt hanging in the winners circle.

"Sentries in the Garden"
Suzanne Kistler
Best Hand Quilting

Who would have thought? Not I, definitely not I.

Click this link for the complete list of Best of the Valley 2008 Show Results.

Wow. Awesome show. Thank you, BOV Friends, for such a delightful venue for sharing our work. You've outdone yourselves. Again. :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More Pretties

Well, I haven't anything new in the quilting department to share, but I didn't want y'all to feel like I was ignoring you. The garden is busy, and the iris continue to delight. One thing that surprises me is the number of white varieties I seem to have amassed. I thought I had an abundance of medium blue-violet last year, but they haven't been as productive this year. Or maybe it's not their week. yet.

In 2006, a friend shared some rhizomes. This year they are blooming. I don't know what this is called, but I definitely like it. I used to have these a long time ago, and I missed them. Deep, dark purple. ooh. aah.
And these delicate beauties are apricot. Or are they champagne? Not being an iris connoisseur, I'm not sure of the proper terms. What every they are, they are lovely.

And then there's this. I think it's a mutant. Every once in a while a seed pod will get away from me and I think this is the result. The confused fall blooms up instead of down. At least it's trying.

And that's the haps around here. There are more buds out there, so prepare for more iris pictures (can you stand it?) I'm sure I'll be posting them. But for now? I'm back to beading.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Kokkari Rocks!

Wow. We had a delightfully relaxing four days, traveling to Davis and the San Francisco area to see our kiddies. Each day the food and company were excellent, but the culinary highlight was Saturday's excursion into The City for Greek cuisine. Allison and Jeff introduced us to Kokkari , an amazing restaurant in downtown San Francisco.

Here are Pete, Daniel, Allison, Adam, and Jeff, after dining. Do they look like happy diners or what? :)

For a sample of our entrees, check these out:
Allison had goat stew

I had ravioli with olives, peppers, artichoke hearts and feta,

Pete had the day's special, which was pork, roasting on a spit as we entered the restaurant,

And Adam and Jeff had the lamb shank. Adam is frowning because I wanted to take pictures of his food. He wanted to eat it! :) I didn't get a picture of Daniel's lambchops - I think he dug in before I started with the camera. :)

If you are ever in San Francisco, looking for an excellent dining experience, make reservations for this place. It was pricey, although in SF, I'm sure that "pricey" is relative. I'm operating from a Central Valley frame of reference, but as I told Pete afterwards, it was worth every penny. yum, yum!!! Quite the experience. :)

The following morning, we were joined by our oldest son, in Burlingame. This shot was taken after breakfast, and here is the entire family.

Pete, Allison, Jeff, Andrew, Daniel and Adam.

Daniel et al insist that it's perspective that makes Adam look so big. I assure you, he'd look just as big had he and Pete changed positions.

I think that's about it. We had a marvelous weekend, and now we're back in town. Time to pick up the needle and thread, and get back to work. Hopefully by the end of the week I'll have something lovely to show you. Until then, this will have to do...

The orchids are in full bloom, but by the end of the week, they're likely to be history. Enjoy!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Off and Running!

Well look at that. The irises are in full bloom. And we're not going to be here to enjoy them. sigh.
By noon today, we're off and running to Davis. We'll be gone through Sunday, which is four days. The yard will still be here, but we won't. Hopefully the neighbors will like it?

All this to say that I'm gone through April 14...but I'll be back....

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How I Baste

Good morning!! Well, I've been busy, if I do say so myself. Yesterday was a day of basting. I do this quite often, so I take it for granted that everyone else does as well. But I know that is not true. Not everyone machine quilts, and not everyone pin-bastes. Those of you who do can skip this post. Those of you who are still interested are invited to see how I pin-baste.

The first thing I do rearrange the furniture and put up basting tables. I have three of these 8' tables, yesterday I only needed two of them. The leg extensions were cut from PVC pipe. Mine are 10" long, because I'm fairly tall.

Once the tables are up, I press the back and stretch it on the table. I use the term "stretch" loosely. It is not taut, but it is also not loose. I pull it so that there are no folds or puckers, but it is still so loose that the weave of the fabric is not distorted. You can see that I use both plastic clips and masking tape to secure the back to the table.

Once the back is smooth, I spread the batting. I prefer working with cotton, because it grabs to the backing and lies flat. Polyester has a mind of its own, and is more challenging to baste. (haha! Do you see our rabbit ears in the background? They really are hooked up to our new HDTV. We don't do cable! :)

If you have any overhang, you might want to check under the table for lurkers...

The top is then spread on the batting, and smoothed as squarely as possible. The rulers help assure that the edges are square. It's not often that I will "eyeball" a quilt, unless it is obvious that it is nowhere near square to begin with...

Finally, I pin in the areas that I will not be quilting. On this particular quilt, I will be stitching in the ditch before doing any free motion. Once the stabilizing quilting (in the ditch) is finished, I'll pull out the pins and then do the free-motion.

Here is the pin placement. More is better, when it comes to pin-basting. The last thing I want is to have the three layers shifting, so I am careful to be sure that all three layers are more than secure.

After this, I close the pins and trim the back/batting to within 1" of the top on all sides. And now, it's good to go.

Yesterday I basted three quilts, and they are all waiting for my attention. If I don't post in the next few days, you can theorize that I am quilting...either that, or playing in the garden... :)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cross One Off

Ta Da!! Here's that Broken Dishes UFO that was lurking unfinished in the bottom of my shelving unit. I showed you the hand-pieced blocks and icky fabrics all waiting for attention. Well, they got my attention, and they are DONE.

Well, almost done. Now that I see the photo, I think that I should replace the corner squares with something darker/brighter, but other than that, it's actually not half bad. I picked up a quilt-for-hire today, so I'll be setting up basting tables in the near future. May as well baste this one and quilt it as well. You never know when it might come in handy... :)

And since I was outside, enjoying the Spring morning, I thought I'd show you what the irises are up to.

Aren't they lovely? The bed is raised about a foot, but they're big'uns, at least 3' tall or more. I LOVE it when they bloom. Are you sick of them? I hope not. They are a yearly source of inspiration and joy for me, and I want to share the love.

That's all for now.

Oh, except that we're off on a 3-day jaunt to So Cal, so new posts are unlikely between now and April 7...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Call it what you will...'s mine.

Some days it's a "studio," sometimes it's a "sewing room," today, it is simply a dump. The only thing I've done in it for the past week or so is to walk in and dump things. But today, being April Fool's Day, I'm going to play the fool and show you what it REALLY looks like.

The room is 11' x 11', and was Andrew's bedroom until he left for college in 2002. I moved my sewing machine into his room that fall, but I believe it was the summer of 2004 that I officially took over. He stayed in Santa Cruz, working, and I took that as an invitation to move his things out and my things in. I don't think there's much of Andrew left in the room at all, other than his scientific scribblings and codes and things behind my design wall. I haven't painted or erased the wall. Some day it will be an archaeological find. :)

When you walk in the door, you face the south wall, and this is what you see.

It is the infamous "design wall," currently functioning as a catch-all and not much more. The ironing board is piled high with things from the floor, as well as a quilt waiting to be quilted and a pile of batiks waiting to be pressed.

This is the south wall.

It is probably the most organized wall in the room, with the nice, neat stash there in the corner. The shelving unit next to it isn't quite big enough to hold much of anything, but it works for now. To the right of this photograph would be the open door, there's really nothing to see.

See? Just the ironing, also waiting for attention. Above the door is a triptych made by a friend of mine. I framed it in a shadow box. The chin-up bar on the door frame is an excellent lure for boys. They love to come back and literally hang around and talk. :) That's also the purpose of the director's chair. I try to keep it empty. It also calls to people (particularly my hubbie) and they'll come in and sit and visit while I'm working.

Here's the other half of that west wall. sigh. (See the director's chair in the left corner?) There's another one to the right of it, but that one tends to be a catchall for whatever is waiting to be worked on. Above the closet are some gold/porcelain Christmas plates from the same series my mom used to collect. Whenever I see them, I think of her...

Finally, here is where I sit.

Obviously the sewing table is also currently being used as a catchall. When I walked in to take this picture, I found a shirt on my chair. It appears to be missing a button. My guess is that a button will magically sew its way onto the shirt, and then the shirt will disappear again.

Then again, I could be wrong. :)

I should have taken a picture of the floor. There's about a 4' x 5' area with nothing on it, except sometimes a cat. And it's vacuumed. But you'll have to use your imagination. I'm not taking any more pictures today.

There you have it. Some say clutter is a sign of disorganization, others insist it's a sign of genius. You've seen my personal space, I'll let you decide. ;)

Welcome to April...