Friday, January 30, 2009

A Finished Project

Yesterday my friend Carletta and I finally celebrated Christmas. I'm talking 2008, not Christmas 2009! Each year we have breakfast at Valhalla, and again we did the same. Here we are afterwards, enjoying the amazingly bright sunshine. Good for yesterday, but it made lots of fog for today...

After breakfast, I traveled to Thimble Towne, to see the Itty Bitties. wow. There were so many people there, working so industriously, it's tough to find any Itty Bitties. I spy. I see two of them in the lower right hand portion of the picture. A third is off camera to the left, at the ironing board. A fourth was in the other room, cutting fabric. A fifth came later, and for 5 minutes, all six of us were present. Wow. What a great way to start 2009. Last year I think the only time all six of us were together was at Christmas.

While I was there, I finished the binding on this baby quilt made from abandoned blocks. The three green and purple blocks were made from leftovers from Sharon's quilt. The pale blue block was made from leftovers from a quilt I made in the early 90's.

I hear about people clearing out their stashes and getting rid of things they haven't used in years. I'd like to think I'm doing the same, but I'm not throwing them away. I'm giving them new life. And it feels good.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January Step Finished, and I'll tell you a story...

I've done it. I've finished my January step. It took three days, but they were worthwhile days. The green portions of this quilt have been quilted. After laying it on the floor, I suspect that I am going to have to stuff the green feathers. sigh. That wasn't the original plan, but it was lurking out there as a distinct possibility.

Here is a picture of the green triangle next to the unstuffed border...

It looks fine, until you see it next to the outer border when it is stuffed...

And then you have to take into consideration the rest of the trapunto involved in this quilt. I had a decent picture, but you'll have to tilt your head to see it. sigh. I've got shadow trapunto (done with red and green thread) in the white areas...

The inner gold border is also stuffed, and there is more shadow trapunto in the inner white border.

Here is the overall view of the quilt. I've trapunto'ed less than 1/8 of the outer border (upper left), so you can see how it might end up.

I put the binding on early, because the fabric was shredding. I definitely will be removing it and replacing it, because the quilting took its toll on the size of the quilt (quilting will shrink a quilt), and the binding is now too big. But you can also see the excess fabric in each border. I'm hoping the trapunto will suck it up. I've got my work cut out for me.

Now that you've seen the pictures, I thought I'd tell you the story of this quilt. Make yourself comfortable, it might take a while.

When we lived in Davis, back in the early 80's I became interested in quilting. I checked out both books on quilting from the UCD library. One absolutely captivated me. It was called The Standard Book of Quilt Making and Collecting by Marguerite Ickis, published in 1949. I've since obtained my own copy of this book.

Anyway, I traced a few of my favorite patterns from the book, one of them being Cock's Comb on page 72-73. I figured that one day I would have the skills to tackle a quilt from this pattern.

In the mid-90's we had a guild challenge, which involved some red fabric. I thought it was the perfect time to make this quilt. I started making hand-appliqued blocks. I finished 9. That's as far as I got. Unfortunately my hand applique skills were not as great as I'd hoped, and the resulting blocks were discouraging.

In the late 90's, I designed and finished piecing a quilt for my sister.

Carla's 30th Birthday quilt
Suzanne Kistler, 2004

I absolutely LOVED the setting that I came up with, especially when it was turned horizontal instead of on point, and wanted to use it again before I forgot it. I found the 9 blocks in my UFO box, and made the top. woohoo! But then, how to quilt it?

Because the hand-applique wasn't show quality, I couldn't see the point in hand quilting it. I decided that some shadow trapunto would add a spark, and that led to the other trapunto as well. I've been quilting and stuffing this quilt ever since.

A few years ago my daughter became engaged. I knew that she liked red and green quilts, and eventually asked her if they might like this quilt as their wedding quilt. She said yes. They were married in August. The quilt still isn't finished.

I think it is truly remarkable that a pattern I chose from a book while I was expecting her has become the quilt I will eventually gift them for their wedding...if I can finish it satisfactorily.

And that's the story of this quilt so far. As they say, every quilt tells a story...

And now, if I can just get my hands on some more trapunto yarn...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Need To Borrow A Vocabulary...


wow. Nothing like a jackhammer at 8:01am to get your blood boiling.

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRG!!!! I looked out the window. I need to borrow someone's vocabulary. I don't have the words in mine to express what I'm feeling as I see this lovely view.

Aren't we done yet? Do we REALLY have to rip up the street AGAIN?!! Don't you know I have PEOPLE coming at 1 o'clock!!!

I guess that's where the Lord's been kind to me. I could have scheduled my people to come at 9am. Then where would we be? The nice man with the jackhammer promises me that I can still get out of my driveway, and that they'll be done by noon. They're just replacing the asphalt.

The asphalt looked fine to me. I even drove on it and it held. But hey, everyone wants a chance to rip up my road. Why not the asphalt guys? Be my guest! Go right ahead! Do your thing! Have at it! Knock yourself out!

oh wait. Don't knock yourself out. I need you to finish the job first.

All I can say is: the novelty of having trucks parked in front of my driveway is REALLY just about GONE. Go away, and leave me alone!!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Taking the Step

It's true, it's true. I'm on my way to completing my first step for January! hip, hip, hooray! I did not think this day would actually come, but it has, my dear friends, indeed it has!

I wasn't feeling it this morning, but the machine was calling. No sense in wasting that call. Forty five minutes later, this baby quilt was assembled. (These are the blocks I made on January 1.)

I celebrated this second finished quilt top (in two days, no less!!) by adding up my sales tax owed for 2008, writing the check, and putting it in the mail. woohoo. Then I paid the rest of the bills. And went to the post office. And the dry cleaner. With that, I was ready for some serious quilting. I can't even remember the last time I quilted. Do I still remember how to do it? Indeed I do. January's goal is the fill the green triangles on this quilt. The first thing I did was fill the corner triangles.

After a dinner break, I quilted two of the larger, setting triangles.

I started getting sloppy, so I will save the last six for tomorrow. But folks, I'm at Step point5, and it's all good.

...until I get to the next step on this quilt. Actually, there may only be one step left on this quilt, unless I need to remove the binding and redo it. (The binding issue may or may not be resolved with the green quilting.) The last step is the trapunto, and I'm up against the wall on this one.

I'm doing trapunto the old-fashioned way, I'm stuffing the quilting with yarn, after it's quilted. Therein lies the problem. I have to stuff my way around the border (and maybe stuff the green, but I'm going to try to avoid that).

I have to stuff my way around the border, and I'm running out of yarn. This is all I have left, and it's not much.

I don't remember where I bought this acrylic 3-ply yarn. It was specifically marketed as "trapunto yarn." The first time I bought it, I bought 100 yards and it came unwound, in a plastic bag. The second time, it came on this cone. Perhaps holding it will give you an idea of its size?

It reminds me of school yarn (remember that stuff from when we were kids?) but it's much softer. Again, here's a picture to give you an idea of how fluffy it is, and show that it's 3 ply.

Here's a close-up, so you can see exactly what it looks like.

If anyone out there knows a source for this yarn, PLEASE, I BEG OF YOU! tell me where to get it!! I've looked and looked, but am having no success whatsoever. Or, if you have some in your possession, that you're looking to be rid of, Please! Pick me! Let me know how much you want for it, and I'll take it off your hands!

In the meantime, I hope to finish my official January step before the end of January. Stay tuned, there WILL be celebratory pictures!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Unexpectedly Delighted

Yesterday I posted pictures of this and that, and things that are sort of getting done in the sewing room. I truly had no intention of finishing the Rasmussen landscape top, it just kind of happened. It was on the ironing board, once again abandoned. I cleared off enough room on the sewing table to put down a large cutting mat - so of course I ought to square the top, since the space was available.

Then I wandered around looking at browns for the border, and I found this basket print that I've had for years. It totally captures the image I was going for. Rather than a realistic landscape - I've had a LOT of practice with realism - I thought it would be fun to do kind of a 70's - ish pop-art kind of image. It borders on realism, with a cartoonish kind of feel to it. At least to me.

I have to say that I am unexpectedly delighted with the finished top. It will likely even get quilted in this lifetime, which is more than I can say for a good number of my UFO's.

Now onward and upward! My "official" January step has yet to be taken.

Do you think it should count if I completed a renegade step? I do, but that doesn't mean I don't still intend to do the step I intended to do...if you know what I mean...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Flowers And Procrastination

I thought it was going to rain again today, but instead we had sunshine all afternoon. I shoulda woulda coulda gone outside to do more than take pictures, but I didn't. I've set some January quilting goals, and I really need to try to meet them.

I haven't had much hope for this year's crop of irises. I went through them during the summer, picking and culling, and preparing them. By mid-December, they had new growth, and that always gets under my husband's skin. Plants should not grow. New growth just means more yard work. He "cleaned out" the iris beds. Here is a picture taken today, showing the status of my irises. Usually at this time, they are all leafed-out and throwing up stalks for blooms. Not this year. They should be 4 times this size by now...

But some are blooming. There are a couple of die-hards that know what to do and when to do it, no matter what the circumstances. Doesn't your heart just ache for this poor twisted little plant? Ordinarily the iris blooms at the top of a 3-foot stem. This poor guy is barely pushing 6 or 8 inches. no joke. It is SO sad!!!

Two others were able to burst forth in beauty, but the rain has them looking pretty bedraggled. Actually, I think the entire yard looks pretty bedraggled...

But that's enough of the outdoor flower show. Time to move indoors.

Let it be known that I am the queen of procrastination. If I can do it tomorrow, and still get away with it, I will. It doesn't matter what "it" is, and often it doesn't even matter how important "it" might be to my peace of mind and well-being. When it comes to deadlines, I turn into Scarlet O'Hara: I'll think about it tomorrow!

I tried to upload the rose card again, this time it loaded properly. Can you read the quote? It says, "When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for a moment..." Georgia O'Keefe. Can you see the little rose close-up, in the upper right corner? I bought some red beads last night, thinking that I might add some pizzazz...

Next week we're going to meet our daughter's in-laws for the first time. She's suggested that I bring "one of your little art quilts" as a gift. hmmm. I've been trying to come up with something appropriate, but so far have been unsuccessful.

I thought about maybe giving them this tropical one, but even Blogger votes no. (At least I assume that's what the sideways picture means...)

In trying to find inspiration, I studied all of the STUFF on my design wall. There it was! It's perfect! Not only that, but it's finished!!

During the summer, I printed a colored pencil drawing by my daughter on fabric. Then I thread painted it, as an experiment. When I'd finished, I pinned it on the design wall. And there it was, waiting for me. What do you think? Is it perfect or what?

This picture has a lot of glare, but shows the threadwork best.

This picture has less glare, but is also a bit fuzzier.

I think it works. They love our daughter, and the image is her creation. All I've done is color it in thread and fabric. Perfect. At least I hope it's perfect.

And in the meantime, while I was trying to decide what to do, I started plowing through that Sue Rasmussen landscape from last year. The portable design wall takes up entirely too much room, and I'm tired of tripping on it. This thing has GOT to go. Four (or was it six?) hours later, the design wall is gone and another UFO has marched one step further to completion.

Too bad it's not the UFO that I've assigned as this month's step!!!

I've also been thinking a LOT about Asilomar. I go in about 6 weeks, and hey, I'm going to need to take that portable design wall. Who says I procrastinate? I'm 6 weeks ahead!

Then again, I've done NOTHING on my January goals, and I've only got one week left. sigh. Goals are good.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Rainy Day...

Blogger was down for a while yesterday. Unfortunately they didn't fix the picture-flipping issue that I seem to periodically be plagued with. groan. Once again they have flipped my sewing picture, doggone it! Just tilt your laptop (if you have one) to see it properly...

It started raining yesterday, nice, blessedly wet rain. They keep saying it's "not much," but any more than none is absolutely welcome! It was still raining today, and when I went outside, I found that my perky narcissus are now looking quite bedraggled. So sad!

I plucked a few and brought them indoors, to try out this unique vase from my daughter. It has a special name, which escapes me at the moment, but I do like the way it works. It brings some cheer into the kitchen, don't you think?

Today I forced myself to clean the bathroom before going into the sewing room. The bathroom is a lot bigger and a lot messier than I'd realized. I'm still not quite finished with it, but the toilet, the tub, the shower and one of the sinks are now clean, as are the mirrors and floors. I have one sink left, but I needed a sewing break, desperately.

I started sewing some neutrals together, trying to get inspired for a gift that needs to be made in the next week or so. I got as far as assembling 4 patchwork 4.5" blocks into a single 8.5" block, but it just wasn't doing it.

I scanned my design wall, looking for inspiration. Aha! Here we go! A few years back I was given this tiny photo transfer of a rose, along with the quote from Georgia O'Keefe. I pushed aside the neutrals, and pulled out my deep pinks and reds. This is more like it...

If only blogger agreed. It really does look pretty nice, if you look at it right side up...

right. It wasn't my step for January. Thanks for reminding me... ;)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Spending Quality Time With...

hmmm...what could I be spending quality time with today, that would be blog-worthy? Before I tell you that, I'll show you new pictures of our street...

The water was off for 4 hours yesterday, but when they left, the road was patched, and the access to our water main had been replaced. We still have a yard full of paint, marking the utilities. Do you know how many underground lines there are? There's electricity and gas and water and cable and telephone and oh, now I can't remember. We came up with another one too...I know they used orange and yellow and red and blue and white paint...

But enough of that!

For Christmas, I asked Pete if he'd like a cow shirt. I showed him the pattern and the fabric. He lit up like a Christmas tree. "YES!!!" He was hoping to have it for the next CVMA meeting, which happens to be Saturday. All I had done was cut it out.

I think I told you, I have this rule: No sewing until the ironing is done. There's a second rule: No sewing until the sewing table is clean. That means that the portion of the table that I need for sewing MUST be cleared off, with the mess PUT AWAY. I can't just relocate it, because that's a nightmare.

I knew that if I stuck with my usual sewing scenario, I'd never get around to sewing. But I was in luck. Today, being Thursday, was also Itty Bitty day. My itty bitty sewing circle meets at Thimble Towne every Thursday. I usually drop by, say "Hi!" and run along my merry way. Today I brought my Bernina, and spent quality time with my friends and my machine.

By the time I remembered that I had my camera with me, Itty Bitty Sue was on her way out.

The front table is where the Itty Bitties usually sit. I told you we were itty bitty. There are 6 of us, 3 of us were there today. Sue left, and Kathy was sewing in the other room. yep. Itty bitty. I was the sole representative left in the room. Luckily it was also an "open sew" day, where for $5 you can sit and sew all day long. Jean, Linda and Karen were all there, working steadily, making great strides on their quilting projects.

I was working on the shirt. Does the pattern look old? I made a lot of shirts from this pattern... back in 1981 and 1982...

Look! Here is a rare sight. I am actually seated at my Bernina, using it!!

I can't believe how productive I was, without the distractions of laundry and household chores. I arrived around 10:30, and left around 3:30. Sue says she can't imagine Pete actually wearing this shirt, but I'm thinking she doesn't know him very well. If it's got cows, it's the bomb!

Here he is, in cowshirt heaven. He says he'll wear it to the meeting on Sunday. I hope so! That's what it's there for!!!

I have to say that the hours spent with the machine, the fabric, the thread, and the friends was therapeutic. I am MUCH more relaxed that I'd been when I arrived. When Pete's off for his meeting, I'm going to see if I can actually get that sewing table cleared off and make progress on my January step. Goals are good, let's just see if I can actually meet one!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Same Old, Same Old

I guess I've been a bad blogger lately, falling down on my blogging duties. Truth be told, there's nothing to tell. I've been doing LOTS of quilt show work, primarily on the computer. We also had a meeting yesterday, at McDermont Field House. I'm getting excited about the show. I hope people are going to be sending in their entries! The postmark deadline is March 1, which will be here sooner than you think.

I know, I know. I need to fill out my forms too. But pretty soon it will be do as I do, as well as do as I say. :)

If I look outside, what do I see?

yep. The water guys are back, replacing the water pipes.

This next pipe is about 8" wide, and the hole is about 5' deep...

They said that if all went well, the water would be off for maybe 2 hours. That was at 11:30am. It's now 2:40pm, still no water. sigh. I should have eaten that burrito AT Baja Fresh instead of bringing it home. Wiping my hands with a wet paper towel doesn't really do the job...

I turned my attention inside, where I found yet another pile of washed fabric.

Give it some attention, and presto, chango, there you go. Nice and neat.

While I may be chomping at the bit a bit, Malcolm doesn't care. His number one job is napping, and he discovered that I'd forgotten to cover my pillow when I made the bed. Malcolm, I do NOT appreciate your choice of bedding!

As the post title says, it's just same old, same old. Still no progress in the quilting or 12-step program, all I've got to report is: they're working in my street and I'm trying to find my sewing machine. I guess the upside of no water is that I can't wash any more fabric!

Hopefully I'll have some better pictures by the end of the week...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Getting To Step One

Ahh, such grand plans! I WANT to do the 12-step program. I NEED to do the 12-step program. But getting to that first step? It's harder than I thought!!!

I have a rule when it comes to sewing. Before I'm allowed to sew ANYTHING (unless I'm mending clothing), I MUST do all the ironing first. That meant that these shirts, that have been waiting for attention for at least 2 weeks - I told you I haven't been sewing! - needed to be ironed.

Consider it done. No, I didn't just move them. I really did iron them and hang them in the proper closets.

But then there's this ironing as well. The fabric that I've been accumulating since Christmas needs to be washed and pressed. I started washing yesterday. yep. That's quite a pile. It's going to take a while...

It did, but it's done. For now. I think I just heard the dryer finish. The pile seems to spontaneously generate.

It took me so long to get the ironing done, that when I finally turned to look for the sewing machine...

I gave up. Step 1 is not going to happen today. I can't do any machine quilting without a major overhaul of the table top. Instead, I finished sewing up one side of the tree from the Sue Rasmussen class back in November. The portable design wall has been in my way since that class, and it's driving my nuts (as my daughter used to say). I HAVE to get it out of my way, and it doesn't take much table space to sew a bunch of 4" seams.

And that's my story as to why Step 1 remains undone, despite the fact that it was the ONLY thing I'd planned to do today. sigh. Goals are good.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I've Got A Bad Feeling About This...

I left the house about 8:15 this morning, for a meeting at the McDermont Field House in Lindsay. This is where we will be holding this year's Best of the Valley Quilt Show, in April. I was there to go over the details of our contract/agreement, and I was there for hours.

I got home just before noon, and spotted this spot, as I disembarked my vehicle.

I don't know about you, but a survey mark on my driveway (and Pete's grass) doesn't make me feel very comfortable. I looked up and...

yep. Something is up. I know they said they were going to replace the water line later this month, but what's with the marks on our property? Oh wait. It's in the street too.

And on the other side of my car...

And all across the lawn....

And more in the street...(excuse the can, it's garbage day)

I'd just finished snapping the pictures when a CA Water truck drove by. I asked him about the marks. He said that all of the different lines have to be marked, like the gas line and the cable line, etc., as well as the water line. I also asked when they're planning to do the work. He flipped through his notebook, "Looks like Tuesday, 1/20." oh. That's soon!

And he said that he thought that the broken down garbage truck back in November DID cause the damage. He said that a root may have caused an initial weakness in the pipe, but the weight of a garbage truck parked in one place for hours was more than enough to crush it. See? I was right! :)

And on a happier/cuter note...

There's been a lot of talk about calf hutches lately, especially in California. My husband took this picture last week, when it was 34 degrees outside. He's wondering - does ANYONE think this calf looks like she's suffering?

Big smile. THIS is what dairy calves in their hutches actually look like, just in case you've been fed something contrary by AR activists who are trying to get rid of calf hutches...