Monday, February 28, 2011

Name That Bloom...

P.S. We have no idea. Almond? Peach? Anyone?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Something For You To Do...

The quilt show is looming, and I am distracted. There is no doubt about it. Time in the Studio is almost nonexistent. Thinking up a post is difficult. I've decided to give you my blog-roll of favorites. Until the calendar rolled over to 2011, I began every morning with a cup of coffee and my favorite bloggers.

But 2011? no way. no time. I am lucky to make a quick visit every other week. I hate it. I LOVE checking in with my blogging buddies, even though most of them have no clue that I exist. But I do. And I always look forward to visiting, to see what they've been up to.

This afternoon I shut myself in my Studio, and cleared off the table enough to put together this little card. It's for a birthday that is long gone, and I'm sure she thinks I've forgotten. I haven't. I just haven't had time...

See? Pathetic. Last year I was on top of birthdays, even going so far as to get things done early.

But you don't want to hear me whine, you want to know who my favorite bloggers are. These are the ones on my personal favorites list, and I have to admit that I will often jump off from them to bloggers listed on their blogrolls..

First in line is Del. Del knows a LOT of quilters. A LOT of quilters know Del. Her blog is full of variety. Sometimes it's her poodle prince, sometimes it's a luscious meal, often it's something quiltie, and on Friday it's feet.

Next is Allie. When she blogs, she's amazing. She's a crazy quilter extraordinaire. She even came out with a book recently, which I 'm going to have to track down in my spare time. Her work is inspirational, and she often gives step by step tutorials on her methods.

Allie is followed by Wanda. hoo-ey, talk about a productive quilter!! This one-woman wonder could probably sew up my stash within a single year. I've never seen so many quilts finished so quickly. And so well!

From the midwest, I travel to Japan, to see what Tanya has posted. She's also a prolific quilter, and a bit of a cat-maniac. She's lived in Japan for decades, and often posts about differences between here and there. I often learn something new when I visit Tanya's blog.

The Pioneer Woman is next, and she's guaranteed to get a reaction out of me. Last night I laughed out loud (as I often do) and my husband wanted to know what was so funny. I read a snippet from her post, and he laughed too. She's a SoCal city gal, married and relocated to Oklahoma. She makes the most of her relocation in a very engaging manner.

From Oklahoma, I zip up to Canada, where the Yarn Harlot knits. She fascinates me. How can someone make a living and feed a family by knitting? It can be done, and she is the master.

After the brief travelogue, I return to quilters. Terry is in Oregon, and her work fascinates me. I don't know that I've ever commented on her blog, but I'm always lurking...

Deborah is next. Her posts are beautiful. Her work is all done by hand, and I'm smitten with her desire to embellish with reckless abandon. I think that's how she worded it last year. Her inspirational photography is an added bonus.

Vicki is next, she loves to dye. She also is wonderful about linking to sites and posts that she thinks worthy of note. I will warn you that I have been known to go to her blog and start clicking around and look up to find that the sun has moved significantly...

Then on to Diane. Diane is a thinker. And an artist. And a homeschooling mom. wow. I'd be "going to pieces" too.

From the Bay Area, I head to Indiana to visit Kay. Of all the quilting bloggers I visit, I think her work is the most like mine. Tradition seems to be dominant, yet she's lured by art quilting as well. I love seeing what she's up to, and have gotten more than a few ideas of how to finish up some UFOs that have been lurking around for far too long.

Nina-Marie is on my list, but she seems to blog in spurts. She's currently in a down spurt. I imagine that she's doing so much quilting she doesn't have time to blog.

Kim is a hoot and a holler. She's a legal secretary in Sacramento who works during the day and quilts all night. I don't think she sleeps. ever.

Lisa's blog is restful. It is peaceful, it is beautiful. I don't think she's ever had a post that wasn't filled with fabulous photographs. She can turn even the most mundane subject into a work of art. She's also a crazy quilter, whose attention to detail is incredible. Visit her, for inspiration.

Penny is in Oklahoma, just like the Pioneer Woman. I sometimes wonder if they live near each other. Penny has samoyeds and loves to quilt. She's recently made the move from traditional to art quilting, among other things.

Robin is an artist in Hawaii. She's a photographer, she's a quilter, she's a dyer, she lives life with passion. Often it's all about what the camera sees, and I love it.

Susan is a new addition to my blog roll, I added her when I bought her quilt from the SAQA online auction. Her work fascinates me. wow.

Last on my list is Lisa. She's a friend of mine, and so busy doing that she doesn't have much time to blog. I keep an eye on her, just in case.

I also check the local bloggers to the right of my blog, to see if they've updated.

Wow. No wonder I haven't had time to visit. It would take me all day!!

Actually, I used to zip through in 15-20 minutes, unless I started following links. Hopefully you will click on some of these and find a blog or two that catches your attention.

The last thing I'll mention is that they say we might have snow tonight. "They" have been saying that all week. Snow? We already had snow, in January 1999. Why would we have it again so soon?

Last week I stitched out some snowflakes, for a postcard exchange. I couldn't find my file of patterns, so I stitched the same snowflake over and over again. Funny. As soon as I finished, I realized that the file with all my other snowflake patterns was being held hostage in a zip file. silly me.

Hopefully this will be enough to entertain you during the next few days or week. I have so much to do, I don't know that I'll be able to fit blogging into my day. In the meantime, enjoy!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Beautiful Mail

My mailbox has been stuffed with entries for Best of the Valley. In and amongst the multitude of envelopes was this little beauty. It was made by Debbie Van Fossen, and is my first receipt in Round 12 of the Postmarkd Art exchange.

What a lovely distraction from all of this paperwork. Thank you, Debbie!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Arg. *Sigh*

I must tell you how great it feels to finally finish this quilt. wow. I drafted/drew the pattern at the first Hartland Quilt Retreat, which was in October of 2007. (btw, as I looked up the link, I see that the Lone Star quilt in the picture on the left is mine.) I sewed the Log Cabin blocks and cut the stencil for the border in November of that same year, at the Valley Oak Quilt Guild retreat.

I had a problem with stenciling the border, in that the fabric I chose - which is perfect in every way but the most important - was a medium value. This meant that no matter what I did to try to make the lettering stand out, nothing worked. I had committed to using Fabrico ink markers for the lettering, and even after 4 layers of ink, it wasn't distinct enough.

I attempted to lighten the fabric behind some of the lettering with paint. I ruined one border completely, and had no more of this fabric. By now it was out of date and out of stock everywhere. I finally found a replacement border piece in my stash, that I had discarded earlier as "ruined". At this point, it was "good enough" to finish the quilt. I went over the four layers of stenciled green ink with a layer of black, and a fifth layer of green. whew! I can finally read the lettering. Finally, finally.

The border hang up hung me up for over a year. I don't even remember when I finally basted it and began the quilting.

Because it is hand-quilted, it was my travel project. This quilt has accompanied me to many places, including Colorado (twice) and New Mexico. And multiple quilt retreats.

I couldn't decide how to quilt the border, so I set it aside. again. Last fall I finally realized that I had to just quilt it. And so I did. Then I didn't like the flatness of the quilt, although it was perfectly and completely flat. I added the dimensional heads to the coxcomb. And added dimension to the border. See the wobble I introduced to the quilt? Can you hear me groan? This is the left side:

Here is the right. For some reason the top and bottom remained flat and straight.

Last night, I spent all of NCIS, LA spritzing and pinning the two borders into submission. Please quilt, please submit!!! I dampened the interior of the quilt and absolutely soaked the recalcitrant borders.

This is the left border this morning. It's not quite dry.

This is the right border this morning. It's not dry either.

Compared to the before, those two borders are looking pretty good. If you're wondering how I did this, here is a close up. The pins are nickel-plated applique/sequin pins, that do not rust.

People ask me, "How long does it take to make a quilt?" How about "forever"? It depends on the method used, and whether or not the method is working well.

So. Will this or won't this become a traveling show quilt? Good question. I guess the proof will be in the judges' remarks come April. I have entered it into Best of the Valley, and am considering submitting it to the Denver National Quilt Festival.

After all these years, it would be sad to just put it in the pile on my shelf, doncha think?

Such a saga.

And now, I'm back to work on the show. 'Til next time...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


"The Flower Fades"
Suzanne Kistler February 2011
44" x 44"

"The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our Lord stands forever." Isaiah 40:8

Thursday, February 17, 2011

mumble, grumble

I put the finishing touches on my second coxcomb head today, including adding all of the gathering stitches. I began pinning it in place, and to my chagrin, I discovered my "head" was too small. arg!

Instead of spending the afternoon stitching it in place, I dismantled it, added two more rows of diamonds, and started reinserting gathering stitches. At this rate, my "finish it today" goal will be delayed until Saturday, at the earliest.

So much to do, so many mis-steps.

On a happier note, my new red (real!) leather chair from arrived yesterday. It's already a useful perch for simultaneous handwork and family interaction.

I WILL get this quilt done, and maybe this chair will be just the accessory I need to see me through to the end.

If you don't hear from me, I've got my head down and I'm not coming up for air until the coxcomb quilt is finished. Really. That's the plan.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day, Revisited

Hubby came home bearing flowers. I thought they were worthy of recording.

When I took the picture, I noticed the gnome in the photo, and thought you might like a closer look. I made this mug mug the summer before I entered 7th grade. I found it a few months ago, and thought its quirkiness still interesting. I don't even have to explain why I do not work with clay.

I finished the first flower last night. I thought it looked pretty good, but apparently Blogger has issues with it.

What do you think? I know. You think you have to turn your monitor sideways to see it properly. *sigh* Sorry. I have no control over Blogger.

Although the values of red look quite distinct in the photo, the values read much smoother in person. At least I think they do. I hope they do. I'll just have to get the other one done and see what I think. I've scattered the reds in a different pattern, so hopefully together they will read as more "natural."

The entry postmark deadline is February 24. I hope your entry is on its way or will be soon. For more info, check

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Cat and A Valentine

When I talk about our cats, Malcolm, Edgar and Charlie are the stars. Many people think we only have the three of them. But we don't. We also have a fourth cat, a spooky little almost blind little gal named Hecate. (It's pronounced Heh-Ka-Tee, like one of the witches in MacBeth.)

I have no idea where she spends her days. It is a mystery. But once the sun goes down, she's on our porch. And first thing in the morning, she'll even think about stepping foot inside.

This is about as close as she comes.

I go to get the camera, and she turns tail and takes off.

She used to be all white, with some Siamese tips to her face and feet. She's so dark now, that I often do not recognize her.

Even though she can barely see, that doesn't stop her from climbing trees or dancing across the rooftops.

You've heard of stop and smell the roses? She stops to smell the bamboo...or anything else around her. I am certain that she navigates by sound and smell and everything but sight.

I took a very nice picture of Pete's valentine, and Blogger flipped it. Flippin' Blogger!

For some reason, the lesser photo was acceptable.

Number 3 on my February Goals List was "Make valentines." I made one. One is better than none.

Do you like the beaded picot trim I created around the edge? That is the one skill I learned from Thom Adkins that made his class last year worth the time. The center heart is velvet.

And on that, I'll wish you a Happy Valentine's Day!!!

***The new printer is an HP Photosmart Plus. It doesn't have any visible numbers. The blurb promised it would "print/copy/scan." The good news is that was 1/3 the cost of the last one, and the quality of photo printing is better. The bad news is that I can no longer do two-sided printing or booklets or any of the things I need to do for BOTV that apparently I took for granted. *sigh* Do I need to get yet ANOTHER printer?

I didn't know it didn't do these things until I tried to do them. terrific. And if two-sided printing is the very first thing I tried to do, you can assume, and be correct in assuming, that I use that feature daily. arg.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I Can't...

good grief!! I can't do ANYTHING!!!

Okay, so maybe that's not completely true, but yesterday morning, in the middle of printing, my printer (HP Photosmart C7250 All-in-One printer/fax/copier/scanner) declared an "Ink System Failure!" of the first magnitude.

All the wheedling and cajoling, the plugging and unplugging, the booting and rebooting, the "pull out the ink, turn it off, put the ink back in," etc., etc. did nothing to convince the machine that it was perfectly fine and not in the least danger of failure.

mutter mutter electronics!

Who thought it would be a good idea to make them an integral part of the home?

Doesn't that printer know I have a quilt show to work on? Or maybe it does.

And maybe it knows that I was in the middle of printing my once-a-week letter to a blind friend the next town over.

And maybe it knows that I NEED to print delivery directions for IHQS, so that I'll ship my quilts properly.

Maybe it doesn't think I spend enough time with it, and should stop browsing websites and dreaming up new places to enter my quilts. I have to print out entry forms when I find them. Currently I can't.

Foiled again!!


I've given it 24 hours, it still refuses to cooperate.

Today I will select a machine with fewer bells and whistles. Maybe it will last more than 18 months.

stupid machine.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Use For Red

I've been trying to finish my "Flower Fades" quilt. As with last week, "all I have left are binding and the dimensional applique." This is what the flowers looked like, before I began messing with them.

Perhaps I should have used extra batting, but I didn't. I had to do something, to rescue the quilt from its two dimensions.

I turned to the reds.

I basted around the edge of the piecework, then zig-zag-basted across the body of the piece. You may be able to see the stitching, if you click on the image.

Then I started pulling on the basting threads.

I'm trying to cover the original red quilted ruff with dimension.

Here it is, all pinned in place.

Here's another view.

It's taking a long time to sew it down, because not only am I sewing around the edges, but I am picking up each basting thread and sewing it in place. Hopefully by the time I make it around, the fabric will be secure. I suspect I will have to do some additional tacking, to be sure it stays put.

I've sewn about halfway around the first flower. My husband saw it, and asked, "Is that a flower?" yes. "Is it a coxcomb?" yes. "woohooo! I got it right!!" woohoo! He got it right.

Maybe that's because every year for the past 20 years I've been planting coxcomb from seed. Every year I have a crop of beauties like this:

My husband never asks about my quilts or quilting, and very rarely shows any interest in either.

Yet, every year I make him a valentine. This year's edition is already underway, made with leftovers. The heart is red velvet, from Adam's' Santa suit.

2011 valentine, in progress. Measures 6" square

And since we're in the season of love, I thought I'd show you this photo. From l to r we've got Malcolm, Edgar, and Charlie. If I thought my house was cold, they proved me right. Why else would they be so piled on top of each other?

Malcolm hasn't been feeling very well lately, but I guess when you've put almost 11 years with his kind of mileage on a cat, he has a right to feel poorly.

And that's what I've got for now. I have a quilt-for-hire awaiting my attention, a valentine to finish, and some more tacking down of dimensional applique to do before the day is done. Enjoy your weekend!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

World Ag Expo 2011

I spent the bulk of today at the World's Largest Farm Equipment Show. That's how they bill it, and I believe it. Farmers and farm implements are EVERYWHERE.

I was there in a quilt capacity. Every year our guild demonstrates hand quilting for hours on end. Our number of hand quilters is diminishing, but the size of our quilts is not. This is our 2011 Opportunity Quilt. Isn't it beautiful?

I walked out at lunch time, and imagined that I was shopping...

Let's see. Do I want a green tractor?

or maybe a blue one?or perhaps an orange one?

Maybe I'd rather have a red whatchamacalit..

Or a yellow thingamagig...

Actually, I kind of liked these accessories, even though I don't have any use for them...

I guess I'd better save my money. Good thing, because when I got home, my mail order Hoffman Challenge fabric was waiting for me. Does this mean I'm committed to participating?

With my current schedule, it's not very likely. But, I may as well be a boy scout, and be prepared, just in case.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Working, Working, Working...

No time to blog, no time to stop and say, "Hello! Goodbye!" Time is of the essence, and it's slipping through my fingers...

Can I spin a yarn, or what?!!

I have finished the hand quilting on my quilt. YAY!!

All that remains is binding, adding a sleeve, adding labels, and...adding some extra pizazz.

What kind of pizazz?

Shall I give you a hint?

What on earth am I doing with diamonds? HA! Do you think I'm going to tell you? No, I am not.

I am experimenting, which is part of what's making me nutso, because I THINK I know what I'm doing, but I've never done it before and if I do it wrong then I'll be back at square one and I won't have my quilt finished and then I'll have to come up with another idea and I've been working on solving this particular problem for the past two years which is why I hadn't been in a rush to finish the hand quilting and

I think I'll stop and take a breath now.

Multiply the above by 10, and you've got an idea of what it looks like inside my brain these days. It's not pretty.

But the red is pretty, don't you think?

If I solve my problem with the quilt, I have additional plans for red. Stay tuned, as I might have something to share some time soon.

As to my February goals, the above quilt is the Flower Fades quilt, which shows up as #2. And I beaded last night, so that's part of #1.

How about you? Have you set any goals this month? Are you making any progress?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Beard Appreciation

On Wednesday, there was a great article in the local Visalia Times Delta (John Branch, NYTimes) about "Keisel's Beard." It was accompanied by this Associated Press photo.

The article ends with "In a man, a good beard is a sign of good health, a good testosterone level, a good measure of general man-ness." Jack Passion, "full-time professional beard grower."

Mr. Keisel, meet your competition:

"Who's the man now, dog?*" ...Edgar

Or maybe this one: #1 youngest son. You're right, Adam, not many could rock that look! :)

I never thought I'd say it, but I think I've learned to appreciate the beard. (Then again, it has to be the right look on the right man...)

*Sean Connery, Finding Forrester

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Bit o Basting

Quilt-for-hire #1

Quilt-for-hire #2

Quilt-for-hire #3

Anyone else have plans for the weekend?

***Regarding the post about farmers: No one around here thinks farmers are simple-minded, but I travel the state a lot. I listen to the radio when I drive. I've heard what is said, in both SF and LA, (mostly LA). Very rarely do I hear anything that is complimentary. After yesterday's science marathon, I felt compelled to toss in my two cents...