Saturday, March 28, 2009

Trading Places

Another son has come and gone. zoom! zoom! He was in and out so quickly, it's a good thing I didn't blink. I would have missed him.

Actually, he stayed longer than his brother.

But, there are places to go and people to meet, and there's just so much you can do at home with mom. Mom is pretty happy that she made "the list." :) I could have not made the list, then I'd really be pouting!

Adam is my joy boy, and he always seems to be in a good mood. or asleep. ;)

Here he is, sitting in my sewing room, modeling his "Dodgeball Jesus" t-shirt. I specifically asked for a picture. He's active in College Life up at Davis, and the guys put together a dodgeball team. (And no, this dodgeball is NOT like the dodgeball we played in elementary school back in the 60's. It's a tad more aggressive...)

I think they just wanted the opposition to know Who is on their side. ;)

You may have noticed the mustache. yeah. November was dubbed "Novembeard," and "they" all grew beards. March is now "Mustache March." Adam always likes to participate, with gusto. Is it me? Or does he remind you of Rick Simon from the 80's show Simon & Simon?

You also may have noticed that he's sitting in my cute little red car. I know, many of you would argue that point. An Expedition is not a "little" car. But it is little compared to the alternative. Adam drove away in my car, leaving me with the alternative...

yep. Check out this beauty. In the 90's, it was my dream vehicle. I could seat all the kids without their touching one another. Not only could I haul them, but I could also fit their friends and haul all of their stuff as well.

Why did we trade? Why to haul stuff, of course!! This is my new vehicle, and I am so thankful to have it. I might just be able to get ALL of the stuff out of my garage and over to the quilt show premises in one load. or two. It will definitely be fewer loads than it would have been, had I only my little red car to work with.

And yes, my garage is still bea-u-ti-ful and pristine...but I can't get the van in because some of the boxes on the top shelf overhang. oh well. It was fun to park in it while I could...

P.S. ding dong!!! It's FedEx. The first quilt for the show was just delivered!! ohmygoodness, we're having a quilt show!!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Something's Happening!

I hate days like this, when I expose myself to the world. But without seeing what I'm working with, how can you understand the enormity of this undertaking? You can't. And so, I must take pictures. Brutally honest pictures. You'll still love me, right? Even though my mess is out of control and I can't seem to help myself?

Earlier this week I mentioned my brainstorm. I'd been toying with the idea of getting the new Bernina 820, but would have absolutely no place to put it. Pete had laughingly said I could take over another room, but I've already taken over another room, for the quilt show!

I want to learn to live within my given (appropriated) space, without continuing to ooze into the rest of the house. Other people are organized. Other people have "studios." I don't. I've told you, I have a "dump." Because I dump and run and dump and run, I can't even get down to work without spending an hour or more uncovering a sewing surface. It is unacceptable. I like order, I don't enjoy chaos.

And so, dear friends, I met with a carpenter yesterday. He thinks he can help me, the brave soul. What I didn't tell him was that I spent about 2 hours cleaning the mess before he arrived, so that he could actually get into the room. He still had trouble reaching the walls, when it came time to measure.

So. Here's the plan.

This piece of furniture currently houses about one third to one half of my stash. It is poorly built, but it performs the exact function I need. It keeps my stash clean and organized and right in front of me. I can see it, it inspires me, and it stays relatively dust free, as long as I remember to slide the doors closed!

Mr. Carpenter is going to build two of these units for me, with the sliding glass doors. They will be free-standing (not permanent), because if we ever move, I'm planning to take them with me! They stand about 6' tall, and have plenty of room on top for me to display baskets and to stash works in progress. I might even be able to get the remainder of my stash out of my bedroom! Wouldn't that be something?!! (I'm currently trying to sew my way out of the things in my bedroom. It's been taking a while!)

On the opposite wall, I've got the window and my sewing table. You don't even want to know what's crammed to the right of the table. There's a chest and an old Singer and a Stickley table, and stacks of quilts, and my old photographs, and my embroidery machine, get the general idea.

It's all piled so high I can't get to any of it, other than the few things on top of the little table. Imagine, if you will, all of these things GONE. The plan is for a cupboard, with doors, to fill the space between the window and the wall, coming out almost to the edge of my design wall.

I want the same thing to the left of the table. Here I've got a changing table with a director's chair in front of it. Yeah, I know. You're saying table? chair? You've got to be kidding me. All I see is a pile of piles! I know. I'm pathetic. That's why these cupboards will have doors on them. I DON'T want to be able to see my collection of tools. I want them to be hidden away but easily accessed.

Finally, he's going to build me a custom sewing table. The table that I currently have has been uncomfortable since the day I brought it home. For one, it's too low. I've got it on bed lifts so that my back doesn't ache after sitting at it. One of the legs is in the way of my leg, so I always have to sit to the side. It's bad for me, but good for my chiropractor. I visit him monthly. The back half of the space under the table is inaccessible. Mr. Carpenter says that he can build in drawers that actually extend, along with pull-out shelving. oooh! I LOVE pull-out shelving! It makes me sing!

The only thing that I'm not thrilled about is that we're going to top it with Formica. But I don't know what else to do about that. I need a slick surface to eliminate drag when I'm machine quilting. He mentioned Corian, but that stuff weighs a ton. I think Formica will be just fine.

And there you go, my dream plans. They're all about storage. :)

It's going to be a while before we get started. He's busy and I'm busy. I told him that I can focus on it or think about it after April 20. That works in with his schedule and it makes me smile. I truly hope that I'll be able to get organized. I've dreamed of this for YEARS, and it might actually become reality. You got it. I'll keep you posted!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I KNEW it was Edgar!!

This post is not for the squeamish or for the fans of mice. Instead, it is a shout out to my kitty, for a job well done.

For the most part, my cats are lazy. Catnap? Areyoukiddingme? These guys sleep from 9-4:30 every single day. Malcolm is the exception, since he sleeps all night as well. But Charlie and Edgar? It's either sleep or eat...or eat or sleep. I took these pictures less than 5 minutes ago.

Yes, Malcolm and Charlie spotted the clean laundry. It's their job to cover it with cat hair.

I'd just let Edgar out. He was early for dinner. He wasn't out there for more than 10 minutes, in fact I'd say he was only outside for 5 minutes. But it was long enough. That mouse is HISTORY!!!

Yay, Edgar!!! Hip hip hooray!!! You're my hero!!!

It doesn't take much to make my day, does it?

The day started at 5:30am, and the internet went down at 5:45am. I spent more than an hour on the phone with AT&T,split between 2 phone calls. They finally decided that yes, maybe they were the problem. I was back online by 1pm. yay.

My quilting news is that I have a carpenter coming by tomorrow to look at my sewing room. He specializes in cabinetry. I've told him that I'd like a NICE sewing table, and enough storage to hold my fabric and make my room look ORGANIZED. Hopefully he'll have ideas and suggestions as to the best use of the space, considering the ridiculous quantity of stuff that needs a home.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spinning My Wheels

I know, I know, I've been terrible lately when it comes to blogging. It's not that I don't want to blog, it's just that I don't have much to blog about. Do you want to read about the letters I wrote and mailed today? Or the newspapers that I've been trying to contact? I didn't think so. It's still all quilt show, all the time around here, whether I'm working on it or not.

I am not getting any quilting done - oh wait. I lied. Yesterday our power was out for 10 hours. When the sun went down, I went over to Thimble Towne and handquilted for an hour. The power had been predicted to come back on at 7:30pm. I got home at 7:54pm, and the clocks were blinking (yay!) "12:04." The power had been back on for 4 minutes. But I did get in an hour of hand-quilting. double yay.

Despite my lack of actually quilting, I've been seriously thinking about quilting. I examined the new Bernina 820, which is the mega-machine that reminds me of a Hummer. The huge space under the arm is quite desirable, and my husband said, "If you really want it, you should get it." hmmm.

I've been wandering around the house, creating various scenarios, wondering if I could put it here or there. What I eventually realized was that there is something that I would truly appreciate much more than some fancy-pants sewing machine, even if it DOES have a to-die-for arm. That something would be storage for my sewing room.

I could spend the same amount of money to get organized. Custom cabinetry would REALLY be something that makes my life easier. I've got a call in to a carpenter, we'll see if he calls me back.

In the meantime, the ranunculuses continue to bloom, and I cheer up every time I see them. (As if I'm not already cheery before I see them.)

Not only are the flowers blooming, but "the little boys" are on vacation this week. It's Spring Break for UC Davis. Daniel came by for a brief visit, and he definitely put a smile on my face.

I have to say that the scary thing about the next picture is how much I look like my grandmother. ohmygosh!!! Not only has my mother's face replaced my face in the mirror, but now my profile has been replaced by my grandmother's!!

Time does a number on one's ego, that's for sure!!!

And on that, I'll sign off. I still have plenty of things to do today, but I am glad to be able to say that I've at least touched base with y'all. Hope you are spending some quality time quilting, and I wish I were able to join you!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ta Da!!!

Yesterday we had our final quilt show painting party. woohoo!! The sandwich boards are ready and waiting for placement. Well, almost. Some white touch-up work still needs to be done. I'm saving that for Monday, when SCE tells me I'll be without power from 8am-4pm. I can hardly wait.

In the meantime, here's the current state of my patio:

We didn't have enough stencils for everyone to be painting, so I set some of the crew to work sorting and bundling PVC pipe. They stayed for hours, and I worked a bit longer after they left. Can you believe it? I can see concrete. In the garage!

Not only that, but after I wrapped the middle pile with blue tarp, I was able to pull in for the first time in MONTHS.

Pete says that I can have the quilters come over any time. In fact, the more the better! :) Thank you Sue, Linda, Jean, Barbara and Nancy, for all your help! You know I wouldn't have done it without you!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Keeping Busy

Wow. When I tell you that when I got back from Asilomar I hit the ground running, I'm not joking. I have been ridiculously busy. Hopefully everything that needs to get done is getting done. No guarantees on that, though, because I've barely had time to catch my breath. Sorry about the lack of posting...when there's too much to be done, something's gotta give. And without pictures, who wants to read my whine?

We had a quilt show meeting on Monday, it was the last one before the show. Yikes. That means it's going to be here faster than I realize!

On Tuesday, we painted the old signs with white. Tomorrow we break out the red spray paint.

I've had some quilts for hire waiting for my attention. I told their owners they couldn't be in a hurry. I've finally finished one of them. It looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Another baby made her way into the world, so I needed to make some labels. I also wanted to label the quilts that just got back from M-AQF. I love setting the machine to stitch, while I work on the other one.

Here's a close-up of the machine in action.

And here are the labels, waiting for me to sew them on this evening.

Finally, I saw the strangest thing today. At first I thought it was some sort of mating dance, but after watching for a while, I changed my mind. These butterflies were doing battle. Only one still had his wings intact, the other two were being shredded. They were flying lower and lower to the ground, exhausting themselves.

This first is a picture of two of them. Click to make it bigger.

Here is the one with the worst wings, trying desperately to escape the other two.

They were doing crazy maneuvers, it looked choreographed.

Here you can see another attack.

And here they are again.

I was glad the kitties were in the house, because they certainly would have found these fellows to be great fun. They wouldn't have eaten them, but they definitely would have done them in!

And that's all I've got. I hope you enjoyed it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's Springing!!

Wow. Go away for a week, and the flowers have a party! I love the new discoveries every day in the garden. How about this ranunculus, which has been here for 4 or 5 years. Every year it's grander than the year before.

Or the Monkey Flower. I know, it's leggy, and it looks like a weed. But when you look at the cute little yellow flowers, don't you just want to hug them? They're happy little things, from the tips of the leaves to the bottom of their little red freckles.

Even the Rose of Sharon is putting on new Spring foliage. Look at those little green leaves, just bursting out all over!

**the remainder of this post has been deleted, due to copyright issues. oops!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Yes and Yes and Welcome Home

I've been trying to play catch-up after being gone for a week. I'm almost done going through the mail. woohoo! I received a large envelope from Sacred Threads (large is always good), containing two acceptance letters. Both "Psalm 46:10 Be Still" and "The Light Shines in the Darkness" will be heading to Reynoldsburg, Ohio in June. I'm going to have to check my calendar and see what else June holds!

I was also relieved to know that "Cascading Crystal Kaweah" came home on Thursday. I was beginning to get anxious about that one - I'd hoped it would be home a week ago. The judges' comments were encouraging, they referred to it as a "bead-o-rama." ;)

Finally, "Encompassing Tradition" arrived last night. Welcome home, baby, you're looking good!

A Week of Creation

It is very difficult to describe the experience of taking a class from Cynthia Corbin. She is a soft-spoken woman who has the ability to encourage every type of quilter to step out of his/her comfort zone. She carefully guides us through various exercises, pushing and coaxing us to try something new. And by golly, she is successful. Not a single design wall resembled another in our class, and on the last day, people who walked through the classroom were very confused. "What was she teaching?"

All I can do is tell you the assignment and show you my results.

First we were to showcase our favorite color. They are shown in order, left to right.

The next assignment was to introduce a color we hate into the mix. Mine was the multi-color shell fabric that is "in jail." The exercise reads left to right, top to bottom.

Tuesday was Ugly Tuesday. Monday night's homework was to find the ugliest fabric on the face of the earth. Mine is the mauve in the center of the 8-pointed stars. (Yeah, I know, what 8-pointed stars?) We were to use the ugly fabric to make the ugliest quilt possible, breaking all the rules and doing everything wrong. I definitely did both. It would take me 15 minutes to explain it to you. ;)

That afternoon, we were to take something we did in the ugly exercise and incorporate it using our favorite fabrics. I kept the imperfect stars and the crashy color scheme. I was THRILLED when she suggested that I "tone it down" so that the design would be more apparent.

On Wednesday, we were to reduce an image to its basic lines. I was working from a wild piece of yard art that I'd photographed in Germany. She liked the addition of the eye, and encouraged me to pursue it.

Our final project was to incorporate some of the things we'd explored during the week. We could either continue the series of studies, or create a 30" - 40" wallhanging. I was trying to do the wallhanging, but instead I ended up with the series of studies.

I intend for this to eventually become some sort of finished quilt. And yes, I might be slightly nutty, but I definitely had fun. I was outside of my box all week long (with the exception of the afternoon in which I worked on my applique bird), but it a fun excursion. If you ever want to be pushed in directions you've never even thought of, I'd encourage you to sign up for a class with Cynthia Corbin. You might be uncomfortable for a while, but you won't be disappointed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I'm Back!

I've been to Asilomar and it was good. It was so good that I'm considering going back again in August. We'll have to see about that. First we've got a quilt show to put on.

I want to share a few photos that I took this week. Tomorrow, when I'm rested and more organized, I'll see about posting some pictures from the class. But for now, I'm tired. Sleeping in my own bed sounds very good.

This was the view from the room I was in the first night. I switched rooms the second night, because my roommate snored. zzzzz

I walked to the edge of the road by the beach on the second day. It was terribly windy, so I didn't go any further. If you click on the picture, you can probably even see the sea gull flying by. The weather was GORGEOUS.

These pictures were taken around 6:45am. The moon was full. I can't decide which image is better. The one framed by the tree?

Or the one peeking through the tree?

I have good things to share, but they're just going to have to wait. It's good to be home!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Busy Week

Wow. What a week. My timing couldn't be worse, then again, maybe it could. We're getting to the final month before the quilt show, and I'm going to run off to Asilomar. I signed up last June, long before I had a clue that I'd be the new Chairman of Best of the Valley. That happened in late September. Talk about running around like a chicken with my head cut off! At least my head is still attached (or it was, the last time I looked!) and I can see progress. I'm moving forward, rather than running around in circles.

I've been very hesitant to take on any for-hire work. I don't have the time for it. I need to spend my extra time on the quilt show. But a few people have begged me. I've said, "You can't be in a hurry," and they've said they're not, I could have months. That sounded good a few months ago, but now that the months are evaporating...I have one quilt that needs to be quilted before April, and a second that needs to be quilted before May. I'd hoped to have the April one done before Asilomar. At least I've gotten started.

But it's not fun.

My clients/customers provide their own batting, and usually they ask me which batting to buy. I always tell them that I prefer Quilter's Dream Cotton, "select." That's the second lowest loft. If they have an overly large quilt, I suggest "request." That's the lowest loft.

Cotton batting is a pleasure to machine quilt. When you are basting the quilt, it grabs both the back and the top, eliminating a lot of shifting. Pinning is a breeze.

I hate machine quilting with polyester. Basting is a nightmare. It's like trying to layer greased pigs. Polyester batting has a mind of its own, and it has no desire to cling to your back or your top...but it does love to beard through your fabric, once the quilt is finished.

grump, grump, grump.

Why the grump fest? You've probably guessed. This quilt's owner brought a slab of polyester batting for her quilt. She brought so much, it barely fit in my car. Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating. But look at how much is left over - the quilt is already basted and being quilted.

The other thing about this batting, besides the difficulty in basting, is the difficulty in quilting. It's not so tough along the border, but when I get to the middle of this quilt? It's queen-sized. Imagine trying to maneuver a giant sponge under the arm of your little sewing machine, and you've got an idea of what I'm facing.

Now you know why I've been procrastinating on this one, don't you?

The other quilt-for-hire that is waiting for me is WONDERFUL. It has my favorite batting, the colors are awesome, and the pattern is full of flying geese. I absolutely love it, and it will be a pleasure to quilt.

But I wasn't quilting yesterday. Yesterday was jury day for the quilt show. The quilts have been juried, and the letters have been prepared. Not bad for a day's work, eh?

Today I take them to the post office, and you should begin receiving them tomorrow or Monday.

If you're anywhere near Tulare County in April, this is going to be one awesome show. I encourage you to come and see the best of the valley!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Daniel!

Thanks for the picture, Matt!!!

P.S. The cake says "Hauh!" which, according to Matt, "Is really just an excuse to yell."

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Quillow?

A quillow? What, may you ask, is a quillow?

I was introduced to the term in the 80's, when I first joined the quilt guild. Some of the ladies were making them. They were dual-purpose projects, they were quilts masquerading as pillows.

I didn't see the point in making them. It took me so long to make a quilt - after all, everything I did was handquilted - why would I want it folded up and hidden away in a pillow? No, my quilts were quilts, and that's all there was to it. End of topic.

Fast forward to December 2008.

I was on my way to the Mennonite Quilt Center for their end of the year clearance sale. I asked the boys, "Do you need anything from the Quilt Center?" Daniel perked up. "Yes! I need a quillow!"

"You what?"

"I need a quillow. I'd like to have a quilt that doesn't have special significance, that I can toss on the couch and not worry about getting dirty."

Say the word and it's done.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't done, but the seed was planted. Tomorrow young Daniel turns 22. Happy Birthday, Daniel, I made you a quillow! (He called this afternoon to let me know that he'd already opened his gifts. He's going to be busy all day tomorrow, so he decided to get a jump on it.)

This is the top of the quillow. It looks like any ordinary quilt, doesn't it?

Here it is from another angle. It still looks like a quilt.

Here is the back. Can you see the pocket? It's camoflagued.

Here it is again. Or maybe that's a picture of the binding. I made pretty, variegated binding from multiple fabrics of the quilt.

Trust me, there is a pocket. When you turn it inside out, and fold the quilt correctly, presto, change-o, you get a pillow. See how it's tucked so neatly inside the pocket?

Here it is, ready to toss on the couch, ready and waiting for someone who needs a quilt.

Happy Birthday, Daniel!! I hope you enjoy it!!!

P.S. I don't know if you noticed, but I machine quilted this pretty heavily. I expect it to be abused. It will live in an apartment with 4 boys in the 18-22 age range. He can wash it and dry it in the machine, and hopefully it will maintain its shape with a minimum of shrinkage. ( I did prewash the fabrics.)

I think that's about it. Now, I'd better get back to quilt show business.

Oh wait! I should show you pictures of the birthday boy. Since he's a faraway kid, I don't have any 22nd birthday pictures, but I do have a few digital images from the past few years.

Here he is in high school, on senior class color day.

Here he is on his 18th birthday :

Here he is on his 20th birthday:

(You're looking at snowboarding accessories.)

And here he is...I'm not sure when this was taken. It was taken some time during the past year.

Happy Birthday, Dando!!! I love you! Mom