Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Recipe for Happiness

Three hours a day of this:

Plus a quilt, needle and thread eventually leads to this:

Another hour brings us to this:

And by the end of the day we have this:

All of the quilting is done, it is bound and ready for beadwork. I do hope that it turns out the way I envision it, because if it does, I will love this project even more.

Is that even possible?

Monday, June 28, 2010

How Hot Is It?

It is SO HOT, the flowers are melting!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Little Bit o' Quilting

I don't know if you ever click on the comments and read them, but Kay's comment yesterday, about the "peep" at the Hoffman had me laughing out loud. hahahahahaha! I didn't catch it as I wrote it, which made it even funnier.

As I was at the computer, I was thinking "peep, peep? As in... oh! Peeping Tom!!" and then I saw this:

If you can't see him, here he is with the flash...

In between watching World Cup games and working on my Hoffman, I knocked out a couple of cards. This one was for my husband, for Father's Day. I gave him the unembellished card last week, this morning I added the pine needles and bear in the upper left corner.
I put this card together yesterday, for a friend whose birthday I thought was earlier this month. I put it in the envelope and when I looked up her address, I discovered that her birthday is actually today. I guess it will be belated, since it's going out in today's mail...

And now I'll sign off. USA vs. Ghana begins in 11 minutes. Go USA!!! Give the Black Star all you've got!!! :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

peep peep peep

By now you all know Charlie. If he were to have a nickname, it would be something like Charlie the Lethargic or Charlie-Sleeps-a-lot or The King of Z's. The only things he excels at are sleeping and eating.

The only things he's ever caught have been a lizard's tail and june bugs (lying on their backs, wiggling their feet in the air.)

Charlie can be relied upon to do nothing involving an expenditure of energy...until this week.

On Tuesday, he came running into the backyard with a "pom pom" in his mouth. When I asked him what it was, he meowed, and the pom pom unfolded into a duckling that ran away as fast as his little webbed feet could carry him.

He ran around the side of the house and under the fence.

By the time Charlie made it over the fence and I made it through the house to the front, the duckling was nowhere to be seen. Charlie was panting. Seriously. Have you ever seen a cat pant? He was whooped.

I could hear the duckling, and spotted it across the street at the neighbor's house. It then ran across the other street, to another neighbor's house. I felt it was safer there than here, so I brought Charlie into the house and marveled at his lack of killer instinct. Lucky duck!!

Last night, as we were eating dinner, Charlie appeared at the sliding door. Again, he had a "pom pom" in his mouth. This time, when he released it, I caught it.

There was no way I was going to let that cat eat this little duck.

The duck slept in the bathroom overnight, and this morning I took him across town to the SPCA. They have someone who picks up waterfowl for relocation quite frequently. Good. Lucky Duck's chances just increased 100-fold, since Charlie seems to know where he lives.

When I returned from my duck-saving excursion I walked into my Studio and saw my Hoffman sitting on the sewing table. I love the way the lack of lighting highlights the quilting. I wasn't going to show you the quilt until it was finished, but now I can't help myself.

This is one quarter of the quilt, which measures approximately 30" square. I have about 5 more hours of quilting to do, then binding. When that's done, "Let the beading commence!"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This n That

Our youngest son came home for the summer, bearing gifts. cough, cough. He's been sick for weeks (months?), but hasn't had the time to get to the doctor. It's been a bit of a concern, but he's been going to work (internship), and seems to be plugging along.

Apparently he's contagious. cough, cough.

Guess who caught it? cough, choke. Time to lie low and finish my Hoffman.

I've finished much of this quilting...

And have moved along to this quilting:

Funny thing, I hadn't planned to quilt this part, so the quilting is taking longer than anticipated. Or maybe I'm just dragging a bit.

To break things up, I can look outside at our happy new front yard.

You may remember the massive overhaul we did during the winter, since I blogged about it here. (There were a few other posts as well. For an overview click the "front yard redo" label on the sidebar.) Now that Spring has sprung and so has summer, there's something to see. Our neighbors are VERY happy with the transformation...(click on the picture for a close-up).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Have You Ever Noticed

how brothers can spend all their waking hours together and yet turn out so differently?

Cats are no different. In my last post, I showed you one of Edgar's favorite daytime activities. He was up in the tree, pretending no one could see him. In contrast, here is Charlie.

Ohh!! I found a new bed, and it's all mine!!!

He stayed in the sleeping bag as long as possible.

You might be wondering why the bag was in the living room? Why the better for sleeping, my dear... Our middle son came in during the wee hours Sunday morning, to surprise his dad for Father's Day.

Here is our collection of boys, from left to right they are ages 25, 20 and 23. All that are missing are our daughter and her husband. Maybe next year, eh?

And now that it's Monday, I'm back to spending my mornings watching the World Cup and working on my Hoffman Challenge. Each day brings me that much closer to finished. I can hardly wait to share it with you...

Friday, June 18, 2010


I see you!!!
I heard a commotion outside yesterday and spotted Edgar 10' up the redwood. He eventually came down empty-handed.

I visited another Estate Sale this morning and plunked down $5 for this lovely piece of Wedgwood.

It's quite small, just the right size to add a bit of batting...

And voila! I am ready for beading.

Now all I need to do is finish quilting so I can get to the beads!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quilt Faster!

I'm continuing the hand quilting on my Hoffman Challenge. Here is another peek at what I'm up to. Instead of marking with a pencil or chalk, I've cut custom templates from freezer paper. Hopefully I'll be done in a week.

It all depends upon whether or not the fingertips hold out.

Use them during the day, treat with Bag Balm at night. I've decided that I need to leave time for beading, so I need to push faster on the quilting.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pictures Today

I've chosen a background for NotMyCat. Since he'd moved to our house, aka "the tropics," and he liked to hang out on the cushion with the tropical cover, I thought this background would be perfect. The more I look at it, the more I like it.

Other cats have come by to pay their respects. To say that I was DISTURBED by this vision out the window would be an understatement.

In the shadow, he looked black. He's really brown. I've seen him before, and refer to him as NotMyCat's brown brother.

Here you can see that he is much lankier than NotMyCat, but he has the same markings. I snapped this picture before he high-tailed it over the fence.

Yesterday I sat down to make a thank you card for my daughter and her husband. Last month they treated us to Cirque de Soleil, and it was quite the experience. It was so memorable, I thought it deserved a lasting thank you, rather than a paper note.

I don't know if you can tell, but the "dotty" purple and green fabrics are actually covered with beads. This is what I did during the World Cup game, instead of work on my Hoffman. Bad Quilter! ;) I'll work on the Hoffman today, I promise!

I'd made the background of the Alegria card bigger, to fit the embroidery hoop. I used the trimmings to make this birthday card. It has some fluffy yarn couched along a couple of seams.

DeAnn's timing was perfect. She'd seen a few of the other cards I've made. When I said that I mail them, she recited her address. Turns out her birthday is Friday. Perfect timing for DeAnn, was it not? :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

No Pictures Today

It's not that I haven't taken them, I most certainly have.

Unfortunately my son has borrowed and apparently misplaced the cord to my card reader. Ergo, my pictures remain trapped in my card, inside my camera. boo hoo hoo.

Don't worry, you're not missing out on much.

I've made a few more quilted cards. One should be delivered tomorrow, so if I find the cord I can share the picture tomorrow without spoiling the surprise. :)

I've chosen the background for the NotMyCat applique. Thank you to those of you who have expressed your condolences. I am still in a bit of shock. I know this because I keep looking for him when I go out back. He really should be there. I ask myself, "Did you really expect him to live a dozen years?" hmmm. I suppose I did. Most of our cats have, unless they've contracted feline leukemia. Our current crop has been vaccinated, and Malcolm is pushing age 10. I guess I do expect them to always be here.

I've also been taking advantage of the World Cup. Call me an oddity, but I LOVE watching soccer. I even love watching soccer on TV. I love it so much that I'm watching it on Univision (Spanish language TV) when I don't speak any Spanish. I do understand, "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!!" probably because I'm yelling the same thing as the announcer when someone actually scores.

Watching the World Cup is my legitimate excuse for hand-quilting during the middle of the day. I'm working on my Hoffman Challenge, and I'm hoping to finish it in the next few weeks. I showed it to my Art Group yesterday for the first time, and judging by the increase in noise (there are a dozen of us), I think it was well received. I was talking, so I didn't hear the words that they said. I do think this falls in the top 3 of the 8 entries I've made since 2003. I hope the Hoffman people like it too . :)

And I guess that's about it. Sorry to only give you words today. I have some more puttering to do in the Studio before I head out to hunt for the cord with fresh eyes. Happy Quilting!!

Monday, June 14, 2010


I can't even believe I am writing this post. I feel bad. I feel bad for me, I feel bad for my family, I feel bad for you, but especially I feel very bad for the cat that was not mine.

You all have been intimately involved with him from the beginning, when he appeared in our yard on January 31, 2010.

He was first referred to as Who Is This Cat?!! when he persistently hung around the perimeter of our yard.

He soon made his home on Charlie and Hecate's favorite winter bed, and called it HIS. He became NOT My Cat.

He began following me everywhere, whenever I was outside. He became NotMyCat.

Which soon became Not My Lap Cat...

And we eventually called him Buzz.

On Friday, I spent the day with Nancy Brown, translating a picture of "Buzz" into fabric. When I came home, I looked for him unsuccessfully. I searched again on Saturday, but no luck. As I drove to church on Sunday, I searched the gutters, fearing the worst.

On Sunday afternoon, I thought he might have gotten locked in the car. I went around the front corner of the yard, behind a tree, and found him. He was gone. I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. He was one of the coolest cats ever. He was quiet and dignified and he absolutely adored me. And now he's gone.

On Sunday I finished up the applique, now I have to find a worthy background.

Rest in peace, NotMyCat...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My New Cat

I heard that. You gasped. I'm sure of it. "What?!! Not ANOTHER cat!!" umm, well, yes, it is another cat. Only it's not my cat. Yeah, I know. You've heard that before as well.

Yesterday, in the applique class, I was absolutely captivated by Nancy's use of fabric. It reminds me very much of Ruth McDowell, and is a skill I'd love to eventually acquire. For now, I simply appreciate what others can do.

But this one quilt, oh my. I took multiple pictures, none of them could do it justice.

"Do you ever sell your work?" "Yes, but I don't have much with me..." "How about this one?" She looked unsure, quoted a price, and I said, "SOLD!" before she could change her mind.

Meet Mittens:

9.25" x 10.75"
Nancy S. Brown 2008

Mittens now lives at my home. Mittens used to live in Nancy's neighborhood. Images of him can be seen in many of her quilts. She said that this was her first memorial quilt for Mittens - she bought some of the fur fabric, especially to make a Mittens quilt, without knowing that earlier that day he'd gone out to the garden and breathed his last.

It's obvious that this cat was loved - you can see it in the attention given to every little detail.

Anyway, I thought you'd like to meet him. He's my newest cat. ;)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Check Out My Eyeball!

Let's back up a minute first...

Today I had a class with Nancy Brown. Awesome. It was funny, she asked how much applique experience we had, how many applique classes we've taken. oh my. When I thought about it, I realized that I've taken a total of two applique classes. Period. I explained that I was a self-taught quilter, and it was five years before I took my first class (which included applique). That was in 1988. I took the second class from Ellen Heck, probably in the early 2000's...

I've done my own hodge-podge variety of applique, and judges' comments have ranged from "applique nice and secure," to "applique stitch needs to be more secure." Both comments were received on the same quilt.

Anyway, I tend to do what works, and leave the rest to those who can. Today I joined that group. Can you hear me tremble with excitement? :)

First, here's a picture of Nancy with her Baltimore Animals quilt. I don't know what its real name is, but it's filled with various critters from the Animal Kingdom. I love it. It's all hand-appliqued, hand-quilted.

She began the class with a discussion of needles, thread, and marking tools. I tend to take casual pictures, here she was discussing the merits of the wash-out blue marker. Note to anyone who lives in hot climes - if you mark a quilt with this blue pen and leave it in your car, the blue becomes one with the fabric and can never be removed. If you live in a milder climate, it shouldn't be an issue.

In the next picture, she is demonstrating her applique stitch. Seriously. I was SHOCKED to learn that what I've done forever is not an applique stitch. I used the stitch I learned in 1988, and did not realize that there was anything else. I had been told, "It doesn't matter what color thread you use for applique, because it shouldn't show!"

Today I learned that it's okay if the stitches show. And this actually does look like it might be more secure than what I've been doing for...20 some years...

We were told to bring enlargements of a picture we might want to work with. Here are some of my selections. At the top of the picture are the patterns to choose from for today's project. I chose the cat, as if you couldn't guess. ;)

The greatest thing I learned today was how to make a successful cat eye. To truly appreciate my increased skill, I've got to show you the last cat's eye that I attempted. I know, it's lame. The eyes are the reason this block is still a block and not a quilt.

And now, are you ready for this? I wanted to do a happy dance and squeal and do all kinds of things, but all I did was sew faster as this incredible recognizable cat's eyeball emerged under my fingers.

I even got the teacher to pose with now I've calmed down and am handling myself with great dignity...

Anyway, that's the class in a nutshell. I made an eyeball that has me grinning from ear to ear.

Tonight I had planned to quilt on my Hoffman Challenge, but instead, I think I will make another eyeball. Do you think I can do TWO on the same face and still be pleased? I don't know, but I'm going to try and find out. Goals are good!!

Class Today

What I've got on tap today, I've been waiting for for a LONG time. (Did that grammar make you cringe as much as it did me?) I've considered this class repeatedly, whether offered at Asilomar or Road to CA. My only concern was whether I'd want to spend a week doing nothing but handwork. The solution to my dilemma came, via Valley Oak Quilt Guild. yay!!! Today I have a 6 hour class with none other than Nancy Brown.

You may not recognize her name, but surely you will recognize her work. She's a master of hand-appliqued, hand-quilted animal quilts. I'll post pictures after today's class. I forgot my camera yesterday. Believe me, I kicked myself repeatedly. ;)

Brenda asked about my sewing table. Is it retail? Or is it custom? My current table is custom, but it was based on the dimensions of my previous table, which was a Koala table.

Here is a picture of my old table:

It has a slot for the machine to sit snugly down onto an adjustable shelf which holds it in place. The sewing surface opens out to offer a large wonderful place to quilt. I was delighted with it, until I spent hours sitting at it.

The problems I encountered were, #1, it was too short. I would bend myself into a pretzel, trying to see what was happening at the needle. I bought bed-risers, which helped a lot, but it wasn't very pretty to look at.

The second problem was that the dividing line between the area for my knees and the shelf hit right where my left knee should be. I had to sit to the right of the needle, again giving me that pretzel feeling. At this point I should probably mention that I am 5'10", and not petite. I've never heard anyone else complain of either problem, so I'm guessing that those unhappy with this table are those who are generously proportioned...and we're in the minority.

My third issue with the table was all of the wasted space. The back half of the table would fold down for "easy storage." I don't know about you, but once that table was up, it never went down again. It was always called into action. I tried using the space to store batting and things that I rarely used. Once they were back there, it was a major event to get them out again.

When I redid the studio, I wanted the same table, only different. I wanted the space below the table top to be as useful as the top itself. This is what my carpenter built:

The table top is about 3" higher than the old one. The space for my knees allows me to sit in front of my needle. The cabinet to the left goes all the way to the wall, with roll-out drawers making all of the contents easily accessible. Beneath the desk area, you can see a door that is slightly ajar. That is my secret stash area, that holds my extra batting. It is VERY accessible, requiring no superhuman efforts to get to its contents.

The only "complaint" I've had about this table is the bobbin access. The lip of the formica curves around, making it impossible for my hand to remove the bobbin from under the table. Instead, I have to remove the plastic around the machine (it's on the table, behind the machine in this picture), tip the machine back, and work with the bobbin. It was a nuisance for the first couple of weeks, but I quickly adjusted. I absolutely LOVE every other feature of this table.

Oh. I should probably mention that it came into the room in two pieces, and was assembled while inside. Moving it out will be an event, at the very least. More than once I've wished that I replaced the carpet before moving it in, but that's a bridge we'll cross on another day.

That's all for now, folks! I'm off to my applique class!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I'm Still Here!

I got a shout-out from a local friend, mentioning that I've been a bit lax on blogging. *sigh* I know. I apologize. I get caught up in doing this or that and I get out of the habit. Besides, I haven't done much worthy of note. It's worthy in my notebook, but is it worthy in yours?

Let's just see...

First I've traded cars with my son, and now have my sporty little red car back in my possession. My husband spent Memorial Day weekend cleaning his things out of my side of the garage (it took 3 days), and then I cleaned my things out. "My things" are primarily quilt show things. My side of the garage now looks like this. The shelves against the wall are loaded with drape and assorted quilt show paraphernalia.

Same son is returning from Davis this week, and might be here for more than a day. He might be here for the summer!! That means clearing out my quilt show "office," in which my paperwork was strewn from one end to the other. My office is now confined to the desk in the corner. Once I move the end table, the room will be ready for him. The basting tables will stay. Sorry, Adam.

I've done a bit of online shopping. I'd been lusting after Vicki's hand-dyes and finally succumbed. They are more scrumptious in person than they are on your monitor. I suspect I will be stroking them for a while before cutting into them.

I've also shopped at Kim's Etsy shop. She designs cute holiday patterns, and when I saw one accompanied by the wool necessary to actually make the pillow, well, it looks like a great project to me. Am I right?

Hancock's of Paducah has kept me on their email list, despite my lack of orders. I usually just hit delete. But this one said "batiks," so I called up the screen. oh my. They had quite a selection of markdowns. Yesterday I washed the blues that I ordered. They are now hanging outside to dry.

All the quilt show cleaning means that my Studio has been a low priority. Purchases from the quilt show (early April) are still in the bag on the ironing board. A quilt-for-hire is in the Bed Bath & Beyond bag below. My rafting quilt is rolled on top of everything. Boxes of clean sheets are below the quilt-for-hire. A hint of my Hoffman Challenge peeks out in the left corner of the photo.

My sewing table is equally bad. My chair is filled with more clean sheets that need to be folded, boxed, and put in the garage. I'll get to that today.

In the middle of all the cleaning, I quilted this little piece. It measures about 10" square. I'll probably add some beading to give it a little more oompf. It's hard to tell, but the trees have been thread-painted. A batik elk and bear show up better in person than in the photo.

This was put together from leftovers of a fish quilt (along with a few of the other quiltlets you've seen in the past few posts). My husband saw it pinned to the design wall and was drawn to it. May as well finish it up and give it to him for Father's Day, right?

I think that's a plan.

Hopefully I'll have something of greater interest to post by the end of the week. Hang in there, don't give up on me yet! ;)