Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Aliens Invading Halloween

Alien Invasion. Coming soon to a planet near you.

I've written about this quilt before, but hopefully this is a better pic. This is the quilt I liberated from my storage facility. I was rather horrified to discover that I didn't sign, date, or do any of the things you are supposed to do. Bad Tonya. Anyway, I pieced it and Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville did a marvelous job of quilting it.

For the most part I used one bit of aliens fabric for the center of the stars. (It's the same fabric that inspired Space 4 Rent, which I made after this one.) I did however use my favorite eyeball fabric for two of the stars.

And illustrating my point in yesterday's post about Lily having to get underneath the fabric:

Go check out Force Majuere Farm if you haven't already recently. Kim is working on a blog "carnival" which sounds something like a magazine. It's a collection of posts relating to one topic, in this case quilting and textile arts. She's in the process of putting together the first issue of The Bent Needle, so go help her out and get involved.

Threadlines Kathie recently posted a pic of the most incredible antique silk pineapple quilt top. Oh, I want it. And Quilting With the Past Lucy just sewed several UFOs together to come up with an amazing orphan quilt top. Read this post, and then this one. I LOVE orphan quilts - they have so much energy.

Yesterday I ended up doing lots of hand quilting. That seems to be what works for me at the moment. I realized that around this time last year I had these same horrible headaches for weeks at a times. Must be something I'm allergic to both here in Bethesda as well as Cairo. I'll be happy when it's over.

On a happier note, HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Kitten in Fabric

Sweet Lily has to jump in whenever there is fabric in the offing. That also includes diving in under the sheet when I am trying to make the bed.

I am a fabric washer. Too many chemicals on the fabric that aggravate my allergies for me not to wash. All my new fabric goes into a pile and never makes it into the stash until it's been properly washed and ironed.

I've now washed just about everything except the reds and pinks, but I won't need them for the Halloween Noises project. Now I have no excuse for not starting the quilt, except for this darn headache I just can't seem to shake. It's been aggravating me for days.

My sweetie and I went to the movies together for the first time in ages. A matinee costs $8.50 each? Ack. And then of course we get the giants sitting in front of us and my husband was kicking himself for not wanting to drive an hour to get to the theater with stadium seating. No wonder we get our movies on DVD. Think I'm getting crankier and fussier as I get older.

We saw The Prestige, a movie by Christopher Nolan who also did the fabulous Memento and Batman Begins. The movie was enjoyable in a "figure out the puzzle" way, but almost every character in it is repugnant and hard to care about. I'd still recommend it tho - it was interesting.

I was saying in the last post how I love to handquilt to silly movies. Yesterday we watched The Third Man which I thoroughly enjoy. Such a classy movie and I love the black and white images. Harry Lyme's speech about 500 years of peace producing the cuckoo clock is one of my all-time favorites. BUT... can I quilt to that? Nooo... That's why I gotta have stupid, silly, fun movies - a concept my husband just doesn't understand. He doesn't want a DVD unless it is a 5 star movie.

The maids come today. We're not living in a hotel, but there are some amenities and weekly maid service is my favorite. Anyway, got lots of straightening up to do.

oh, wait, before I go. Linda, thanks for the comment. Would love to read your blog, if you ever feel like opening it up.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Scary Christmas - Happy Boo Year

I had completely forgotten about how I'd started working on the previous quilt until ya'all reminded me. Yes, the colors are Christmasy. That was the whole reason I'd bought that novelty fabric - I wanted to make some quilts that would work to span the Halloween and Christmas seasons.

Scary Christmas - Happy Boo Year has a big chunk of the focus fabric and then has the words around it. It's quilted in the usual freehand fans. It's a lousy photo. The real quilt will hopefully be on its way across the Atlantic Ocean soon.

I then wanted to make a houses quilt to go along with this one. So I fussy cut creatures to go in the doors and windows of my houses, which I'd then make out of non-holiday fabrics as well as some Christmas prints. I made about four houses before deciding it wasn't working at all. I used the remaining doors and windows and the non-Christmas fabrics to make Crimson Halloween.

I watched a silly movie yesterday: Virus with Jamie Lee Curtis (strong Ripley-esque woman in the first half and Queen of Scream in the second) and Donald Sutherland chewing scenery. Silly movies are just easier for me to rewatch than serious ones. Plus they're easier to quilt to.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Halloween Noises

I've been wanting to make a quilt showing different ways to make the letters. Different "fonts" if I can call them that. I had considered just doing "a b c" over and over again, but that's a bit dull. I decided today that maybe I'd do Halloween noises instead. Not sentences or phrases - just short exclamations, etc.

Here's what I have so far: agh, argh, boo, cackle, clank, creak, eek, groan, growl, grrr, gurgle, howl, hiss, moan, mwa ha ha ha, noooo, rattle, shriek, sssss, slither, slurp, wooooh.

That last one is my ghost. Trying to figure out how I'd do a werewolf. Awhoo? Anything else work well? I'd love some suggestions.

Crimson Halloween

Here's a Halloween quilt made in colors you wouldn't expect me to use. This is a small wallhanging that features creatures cut from the same fabric and then surrounded with random strips. And I actually quilted it in something other than fans: these are relaxed cross-hatches.

This quilt now lives with my aunt and uncle. You didn't expect these colors to be up in my house did you?

I've still got this cold hanging on. Thank goodness for tissues with lotion - otherwise my nose would probably have been sandpapered off by now. Despite the woe, I have recently done some quilting on Cranky Witch. I've finished the bottom row of the third spiral and I'm gaining speed - woohoo.

I went for my thyroid needle biopsy yesterday. The anticipation was worse than the procedure and I was lucky to have a fabulous doctor. Results will be in next week.

I ended up not taking my sewing machine in for its cleanup. Primarily because I was miserable and didn't want to leave the house last weekend (when I could have my husband take me in the car) but also because I was worried about how long it was going to take. Three weeks without the machine and it could have been even longer. What would have happened if I hadn't gotten it back in time for it to ship??? I also want to do some sewing, tho I haven't actually done any. One of these days...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Halloween Maraccas

My husband let me pick out all my own birthday presents this year. Woohoo. I love these Halloween maraccas that I got at Wake Up Little Susie, a fun store in the Cleveland Park area of Washington D.C.

The kitties went nuts, because of course these things sound like they're full of cat treats when shaken, so I had to make sure to get them way out of reach. This is the top of the tv cabinet. It's covered in my infamous kitty deterents (this time bottles instead of aluminum cans...)

We got some good news today. The housing board has approved our getting the cool apartment in Paris I was telling you about a while back. It's in the 17th arrondissement, not too far from the Parc Monceau. I'm getting more excited by the day. Now we can still end up living somewhere else, for instance if someone with higher seniority all of a sudden needs the apartment or something. But we're one step closer.

A really fun site to check out if you are interested in knowing about the lives of english-speaking expats in Paris is the Paris Blog. It's a daily compilation of the best bits of other blogs so there's something for everyone. From there I've found a couple of blogs I now follow: The blog by the woman working at a 3-star restaurant is fascinating tho some of the pics of dismembered game birds has been disturbing. I also enjoy Rue Rude by an American expat that has a running tally of who's on strike in France. (boy, do I hope we get that apartment that is only a mile from the embassy so my sweetie can walk to work!)

I''m still sick, but slightly less miserable today. Yesterday my sweetie -- who has really been hit hard by this cold -- went on a Mythbusters binge on the Discovery Channel - at last they were showing a bunch we hadn't seen before. Have to say I prefer the English narrator that we got on the UK version better (we had the UK Discovery Channel in Cairo - go figure.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Halloween Tree 2005

This is a pic of my Halloween tree from last year. It's not very exciting, definitely needs more items, but it was a start and I miss having it this year.

This is where I actually put it - inside the china cabinet so the cats wouldn't tear it apart. The ornaments are carved from camel bone - ghosts, bats, and black cats. I bought the feather boas and black maribou to make a wreath, but didn't end up actually making it.

My husband and I both have miserable colds. He managed to drag himself into work on Friday and I watched six straight episodes of Gilmore Girls. Woe and misery - I am a very pathetic girl. Didn't even make it to the quilt show I was really looking forward to. Whine, whine, whine.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Folk Art Cats

Pine Ridge Quilter Laura recently posted a picture of folk art cats in a basket. Wow, I have that same picture cut out from a magazine that was printed back in the early 1990s - it's part of my inspiration folder. I made several cats to use for Halloween decorating. This is a really lousy picture of three of them (the other one I gave away).

I used a pair of my husband's worn-out wool pants for fabric, embroidery floss, and some bits of colorful wool that I bought years ago with no particular project in mind. These little guys aren't here for Halloween this year, which makes me sad. I get way too attached to things. But I did bring some black wool to make more if I get so inspired.

On Monday my sweetie and I were able to go in and see all of our belongings that are in storage (on this side of the Atlantic). The warehouse is huge, with these crates stacked up four high and then wrapped sofas and other odd sized objects lining up around the sides of the building. It was great to see our things are okay, at least at a cursory glance. We pulled out items that we are going to need in our unfurnished apartment, as well as the warm clothes. I didn't get to go through every box - we were working fast - but I think most of my quilts will be going to Paris.

I did actually nab one of my quilts out of a box, one in particular that Finn is very fond of. It's all scrunchy right now, so once I can get good pics of it, I'll throw those in. Coming soon to a blog near you. The quilt is scrunchy because I didn't fold it- I just smooshed the quilts into pillowcases. They certainly won't get creases and lose batting from always being folded the same way.

On Tuesday our air freight shipment arrived. So now I have not only my sewing machine and other sewing necessities including some fabric, but also my Halloween Houses quilt. I gotta get some kind of 3M stickies to hang the quilts temporarily on the wall.

Several of you asked what quilt shops Bonnie and I went to this weekend. First we went to Cottonseed Glory in Annapolis. It's not very enticing from the outside, but wow, it's crammed with great fabric. Then it was off in a rush to Seminole Sampler in Catonsville. They had lots of my beloved Bali Fabrications fabric as well as some other enticing hand-dyes. Both shops have friendly staff and give you an extra inch or two when they rip the fabric - something I always appreciate. [There's nothing like getting a stingy bit of yardage home and then losing another inch when you have to cut off the edges of the fabric where the threads pulled and you have all those white bits. You know what I mean.]

Lois asked what kind of yardage I bought. Well, I got all of the wavy stripe that was left on the bolt - about two yards. And that incredible purple that was in the same picture with it? Two yards. I bought four yards of a purple hand-dye that looks a lot like a fabric I absolutely fell in love with this year and couldn't get any more of. Two yards of an excellent orange hand-dye. These are the hand-dyes that the batik fabric makers make, know what I mean? Not an individual artist hand-dyeing. Fabrics I really liked, got a yard. Also did halves and a few thirds. Because most of the fabric I buy doesn't have a strong print, I can use them in all sorts of different quilts. That's one of those lessons I've learned.

Denise, sewing without templates or exact measurements is EASIER than being precise, at least if you can just relax and enjoy yourself. Tell yourself you are playing and don't worry about how anything turns out.

Monday, October 16, 2006

quilt fabric spree

I had such a great visit with my friend Bonnie this weekend. She gamely volunteered to road trip to a couple of quilt shops so that I could finally go wild. I have a problem - I always buy fabric for the quilt I've already finished. I did that years ago with blue and white fabrics after making my houses quilt and here are a bunch of oranges, reds, and yellows that would have worked great in Terms of Endearment. (I always use pinks and purples so they would have gone home with me no matter what.)

I fell in love with this wavy stripe and this gorgeous purple fabric.

I think I'd have bought even more, but we got to the second store only a half hour before closing so I had to power shop. My sewing machine will arrive tomorrow (fingers crossed) and the first job is to get it cleaned and serviced. After that - I can do some sewing!!!

It was great to catch up with Bonnie, tho you have to feel sorry for her trying to sleep on the sofa bed while my cats played in the window blinds. We yacked and yacked, plus she brought some show and tell - her quilts are even more gorgeous in person than in pics, tho that doesn't even seem possible.

On a different topic, my sweetie and I received information on what MAY be our apartment in Paris. The housing board still has to approve our getting it and there are all sorts of factors outside of our control that play into that. The apartment is located downtown (woohoo) and my sweetie would be just a mile from work. We're both attached to the apartment already (even tho we shouldn't be) so I hope we're not disappointed.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Don't Pack Up Lily!

I told you that we'd been buying stuff that we needed to send to Paris. Well this is some (most) of our new purchases. And Lily. She's decided that this her favorite spot right there on top of the pile. No worries that the moving guys will pack her up when they come to take all of this away today - as soon as someone knocks on the door, all the cats will flee.

Howler playing with packing materials.

It was my birthday this week. I got a great, tho completely coincidental, present in the form of a visit from my friend Bonnie. She's up here visiting her father, who's in the middle of a cross-country motorcycle trip. I had a great time going with the two of them to several museums in D.C. - they wore me out. I get to spend quality quilty time with Bonnie on Saturday, which I am really looking forward to.

In the midst of the shopping sprees with my husband, I got to duck into a huge JoAnn's store - I didn't know they made them that big. Didn't have nearly enough time to do lots of damage, but did get a small 100% cotton quilting batt to try out as well as a packet of needles so that I can finely give a definitive answer for "what size of needle do you use for perle cotton and embroidery floss". And the answer is: Embroidery needles sizes 5 and 10. Dritz makes a packet with both those sizes in there and that should do ya.

Saw an orthopedist about my problem knee. He says I can hold off on having the big surgery (woohoo) but discovered that I am losing cartilage in my "good" knee (boo). So one knee better than expected and one worse. I need to lose weight and exercise. No surprise there, but I expect I need to get serious about it. First thing: stop buying snacks for my sweetie no matter how much he begs. If they're in the house, I eat them too.

I read Julia Child's "My Life in Paris" and thoroughly enjoyed hearing about Paris in the 50s and a woman discovering her passion in life.

Sweetie and I have been trying out the series "Numb3rs" which is another crime-solving show, but this time using math instead of forensics. It's okay. Enjoying it but not loving it. Also watched the first episode of "Foyle's War" which is a police inspector solving crime in WWII England. Good, but not great. Enjoyed it enough we'll be getting the next episode.

I've got some sites for ya'all to check out.

PrairieQuilts Nina has pulled together a bunch of orphan blocks and tied them together with some free-pieced letters for her Bones quilt top. Unsurprisingly I'm very fond of the skeleton, but I just love how's she's used all the blocks.

SewCatherine is working on a great quilt top in which she spells out her favorite southern foods. I love everything about this quilt. It actually works great for one of the inspirations I've been mulling over but haven't yet blogged about. Maybe she's been sending me brain waves.

Force Majeure Farm Kim is churning out the quilt tops - check out her light-hearted cow quilt Moo Moue.

New blogger Carol at Quilt as Desired has used the letters to make a Remembrance Quilt with poppies. She's also using the freehand fans to work on a great quilt featuring her cat Spike.

I have not worked on the book or my quilt in progress for ages. Today tho I'm sitting myself down in front of the tv to watch my birthday present Gilmore Girls Season Six and quilt on Cranky. I'm on the third ring of freehand fans!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Man, it is bucketing down rain today. The first day it rained when we were back was wonderful and refreshing, but now I'm ready for it to stop. Not that I liked yesterday's gray sunless skies much better. And this is what winter in Paris is like too.

Big thanks to Calico Cat Amy who lives in the D.C. area and let me know about the upcoming Needlechasers of Chevy Chase quilt show which is going to be just a short metro ride away. Hurrah. Not only that but I perused the guild's marvelous website and I think I might just be able to go to a couple of their events. Wheee.

I've joined Netflix while we're here so my sweetie and I are finally getting to watch the final season of "Friends" which was being broadcast in the states when we left and which Egypt was just barely starting when we left there... Have to say I find all the characters overly annoying and twitchy, but I still want to know how it all ends. As compared to "ER" which I was happy to make a clean break from.

We finally got to try Horatio Hornblower which I thought my hubby might like since he loves "Master and Commander." Obviously the tv series doesn't have the money for all the ship battles, but was still enjoyable enough that we want to watch the second show in the series.

I watched the first two episodes of "Medium" which I hadn't caught previously. One thing that really stood out for me. Allison in the first episode: no make-up, very average looking. Allison in the series: wow, now she's professionally done-up. I liked the first Allison.... No surprise since I don't wear any makeup myself.

So yesterday was a tv binge day. Watched the Mediums and three episodes of Clean House. Told you I'm loving that show. Got some Cranky Witch quilting in as well as some loving on my attention-seeking kitties. Today I'm getting out, despite the rain. I want to go to the library, get some books and work on my book without the distraction of little sweeties.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Inspiration: Family Quilt

Here's a way to make a fun quilt about your family.

First write down all the family members you want to include. Don't forget yourself. How about pets? Does one of your kids (or pets) have a doll or stuffed animal that is incredibly important - maybe they're a part of the family too.

Next I want you to come up with a quote for everyone on your list (at least the humans). For a small one it might be something like "no,no,no,no" or the classic "But Moooooom..." whine. For this particular project you might not want a lengthy quote.

Is there a thing/object/activity that you associate with each person? Write it down. When you are collecting fabric for the quilt, you may want to include some fabric that reflects items on your list. You know the kind I mean: baseballs, scissors and pincushions, doggie bones... It's an option.

Now you've got a bunch of ideas, it's time to start sewing.

Here are some suggestions: using the free-pieced letters (of course) make blocks with everyone's name.

Now the quotes. I would recommend that you don't join the quotes up yet, just leave them as individual words until you know how you want to use them.

Do you want to piece a block for each person/animal? You could do actual people (one of these days I WILL do a tutorial on it, I promise, once I have a sewing machine and fabric) or maybe a representational item. I know you could figure out how to improv piece a sewing machine.

You could also transfer photos onto fabric. I have to admit I'm not a big fan of that technique, but I know loads of people do love it, so definitely an option.

How about your last name? Maybe your address? A house block? Maybe a bunch of hearts?

Here's an example for you, using "I Love Lucy":

"The Ricardos." Piece a red-headed female figure with the words "Lucy" and "I want to be in show business." And a male figure with "Ricky" and "You got a lot of 'splaining to do." There would have to be a little boy with "Little Ricky" and I have absolutely no idea what he'd say. Little Ricky never had much of a personality. And of course "Fred" and "Ethel" would have to be included as well... That would be a starting point.

My next post with the quilt Happy Howloween was made using this same starting point. Not that all the monsters etc are my family, but you know what I mean.

Happy Howloween

I've previously blogged about this quilt Happy Howloween, but I thought I'd post it again since it's that time of year. I have been having a blast looking at all the spooky merchandise at the stores, but so far have managed not to spend any money (you should be impressed by my restraint.)

This is a lousy photo and unfortunately the quilt is in storage so I can't take any more. [We're getting into the storage on the 16th so I may just have a chance to get a peek and see how it's doing!] This is a large wall quilt. It takes the place of my Masterpiece Quilt during October and all the way up to Thanksgiving.

The idea for this quilt was to put all the monsters etc associated with Halloween into a quilt and to have either a quote or description attached to each. Everything was improvisationally pieced out of my very own brain - no patterns. I had no idea how it was all going to go together, I just started making blocks.

At the top of the quilt is a row of spiders that I made by making modified asterisks and then adding the body into the middle.

In the next row is a jack-o-lantern with the words "great pumpkin" -an homage to Linus of Peanuts fame. In the middle are the words "Happy Howloween" and a cat, surrounded by spikey border bits. And on the right, a witch and cat with the words "I'll get you my pretty" ala Wizard of Oz.

The third row starts with a quartet of ghosts and the word "boo." Next is "Trick or treat, smell my feet, I want something good to eat." Which, for my non-american friends, is a little song that kids sing at Halloween. Or at least they did where I grew up. The background is one purple fabric, but all the letters are made with different colors of orange.

Next is an improv Frankenstein's Monster. I originally intended to have something like "ugh" with him, but I had a small piece of purple and green batik that I LOVED and it worked perfectly in that spot. On the right is a hand coming up out of a grave. There is a tombstone with the acronym R.I.P. (Rest in Peace) and the word "zombie" up above.

Fourth row starts with a dancing skeleton. Originally the block "Bad to the Bone" was meant to go there, but I loved it so much that it became a quilt on its own. The next block is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" with a girl holding a stake and the phrase "here to save the day." This is where the row structure goes wonky. Below the skeleton and Buffy are a house block and a pair of mummies with the phrase "I want my mummy" - you'll notice the mummy on the right is carrying a handbag and wearing a hat - she's a mummy mummy.

Moving back up to the top of the row, there's a pair of eyes looking out at you. Below that is Dracula and the phrase "I vant to drink your blood." To the right, a large tombstone that I put my first name and the year in. That freaks some people out, but I liked it.

Bottom row is another house block followed by the words "Don't go in the house" which doesn't refer to anything in particular but certainly applies in several of my favorite horror movies ("Halloween" and "Scream" off the top of my head).

It's a goofy quilt, but because it wasn't serious I had total freedom to play and experiment and it didn't matter if everything worked.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Still a Pincushion

Sorry I did such a lousy job of talking about the quilt in the last post, the Kansas City Troubles. I was a bit wigged out about the thyroid thing (and continue to be so today, since it turns out I have to have it needle biopsied later this month).

I made that Kansas City Troubles quilt ages ago.To really narrow it down, sometime between 1997 and 2002. I think. I can't remember how large it actually is, but I think the smaller units were 6" so the blocks were 12" so the finished quilt is probably about 50" square. More or less. I almost always end up making the blocks a bit smaller than they're theoretically supposed to be due to my imprecise sewing.

Some links for ya'll to check out:

Passionate Quilter Karen worked with a group of women to make a wonderful Take the Leap Challenge quilt as a part of Quilt Pink Day. The quilt will be auctioned off to raise money for the Susan G Komen Foundation. The quilters did a great job for a great cause.

Giraffe Dreams' Carol has started an Alphabet Sampler. I love the way she chose to make her Q.

My Creative Mind's Pam has made a name banner with wonky letters. Pam's made bunches of wonky letter projects, so do go check out her blog.

Lois at Thoughts of Home Quilting is working on a small patriotic project with wonky log cabin blocks and letters. She's trying a new way to make a t - looks fun even if it is making her tear out her hair.

And for an incredibly fun Halloween quilt, make sure you check out Ragdoll Judy's Halloweenie Eye Exam - it is loads of fun. It's the September 30th entry.

And just a couple of replies to comments: Lily, I need a coat here, not just in Paris. It's getting cold. Tracey - love your idea for making a quilt of your daughter's to-do list. Fabulous. May I suggest that you change from being no-replies to having an email address to respond to. If you don't want to use your real email, get a hotmail, gmail or yahoo account. You'd get more interaction with folks that way. (Denise, if I remember correctly that applies to you too!)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


This is my Kansas City Troubles, longarm machine quilted by Bonnie Hunter.

Yesterday was fun. Went to an endocrinologist and discovered I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, in which the immune system attacks the thyroid. Great, fine. So had to do another ultrasound of my thyroid and get more blood drawn so that we can see if there has been any progression of the disease since I last had those tests done a year and a half ago.

It's not an incredibly big deal, there's a possibility that I will have to take thyroid meds for the rest of my life. Sigh. My body hates me. My husband is a bit stressed because I have to get some of my medical things sorted before we can be cleared to go overseas.

We have had some dinners and lunches with friends and my husband's colleagues. Have done some shopping as well and now I have a raincoat that should stand me in good stead both here and in Paris.

A book recommendation for Siobhan and anyone else who loves mysteries AND what goes into making movies. Earthquake Weather by Terrill Lee Lankford. Thoroughly enjoyable and it has a different rhythm from most mysteries I read - the dead body didn't turn up way at the beginning of the book.

We watched Team America World Police and loved the political incorrectness of it all and the goofy joy in blowing up models. Unfortunately it was the unrated version and of course just went too far in the ickiness. I want the "censored" version goshdarnit.