Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bon Jour

I am finally a resident of Paris. My sweetie and I, along with our two little cats, arrived this morning. I am spacey as heck, desperately in need of a good long sleep (although the nap helped) and discombobulated. A pet transport company is moving the two big cats - they are just too hard to manage in the airport. The boys are currently in Frankfurt and will arrive tomorrow, if all goes as it should. And it better, because the French officials who have to accept the cats will be on holiday for a week starting Tuesday.

This is a picture of the one room in the house that is decorated - my husband's office. The mantle is gorgeous isn't it? The accessories are all Egyptian. The hardwood floors, set in a herringbone pattern, are beautiful but very noisy. I feel sorry for our neighbors downstairs.

I put little pink harnesses on the girls, and that helped amazingly getting them through airport screening. I had something to hold onto, as well as the leash wrapped around my wrist in case they managed to get away from me. Once here, it only took half an hour for Lily to start happily exploring. She's having a great time, but Pokey is still under the sofa.

I have to go explore the apartment myself. I don't think we'll make it outside - it's raining right now. See you later.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Paperwork Aggravation

We're going through all sorts of aggravation right now trying to properly fill out the beaurocratic overload of paperwork needed for our upcoming move. Most of that is for the kitties, but I'm also trying to remember all the places I need to do change of address forms for.

The trip to the vet's yesterday was the best one we've had yet. The sedative that the previous vet gave me helped with the big boys, altho Howler still managed to get loose and run around the office. At least his first instinct is to always run into the cage when it's on offer. I don't think the paperwork we have is done right - need to go back for the vet's signature - and then next week it's a drive to Miami for the U.S. Dept of Agriculture to sign off on. Stupidest system ever.

My husband is still sickly and pathetic, tho he held it together yesterday for kitty roundup and transport. I would love to get him out of the house so that he's not here while I'm cleaning, but no such luck. Yesterday we watched the first disc of Stargate Atlantis Season 2. I don't love it as much as the original SG-1, but it's entertaining. Loved the episode Duet in which Rodney gets a woman stuck inside him ala the Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin movie All of Me (which I also happen to love).

I finished quilting the fans all around the Crumby Lost Love border. I also did individual quilting in each of the L-O-V-E letters - I wanted them to stand out from the rest of the quilt. My plan was to then quilt around each of the letters, continuing to do the fan pattern. This is how it looked (notice the past tense):

I didn't like it, so I took out the fans in the middle of the quilt. I'm now going to do each little bit separately and do lots of quilt in the ditch. That's how the quilt wanted to be quilted. See, Atet, some of us have fabric and quilts talking to us too.

I can't believe that some of ya'all actually thought I'd appliqued Elvis on the quilt backing. I can only imagine how much work that would be and remember, I am LAZY. It's a piece of V.I.P. fabric I bought to make gift bags and maybe for interest in crumb quilts, but further reflection made me realize that it would have to be used in bigger pieces to took at all interesting. Since I had the fabric, it was fun, and I didn't pay a lot for it, it ended up on the back.

You may notice that I don't worry about where I start quilting. None of that starting in the center and work out to the edges. I quilt in whatever order suits me and the quilt. For instance I positively KNEW this quilt needed fans in the border so I did that first. I don't know if this method works in a hoop, but I've never had a problem since I'm hoopless.
Melinda asked me about the crumby log cabins. This little block was pieced in the same manner as a log cabin, starting in the center and going around and around. The difference from a true log cabin is that the strips are different widths and I didn't pay any attention to lights on one side of the block and darks on the other. Oh, and it started with a rectangle, not a square. The center rectangle is a piece of Bonnie's chicken fabric, although only the eggs showed up in this bit.
And when playing like this, you can sew the logs on to any side of the center bit you want to. This one went from that terra cotta log on the left across to the dotted greenish tan log. And then the next log sewn on had a triangle pieced onto the end of it. You don't just have to use a whole bit of fabric.
So that's the basic idea. There are some crumb blocks in Crumby Lost Love that get even wonkier than this one. Just play and have fun - you can't go wrong.
Have you made it over to the latest issue of the blogozine The Bent Needle? Go, go. It's all about April In Paris (and other european destinations). Thank you, Sassenach.
I'm not sure how much posting I'm going to get done for the next couple of weeks. Think smooth-sailing thoughts for me and cross those fingers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Crumby Lost Love

Lily on Love on a Shoestring Budget, in progress.

While making the above quilt, Bonnie decided she had an extra L-O-V-E 4-patch. I swiped it. At that point she wasn't sure if she was going to make string blocks to go in between the Loves or if log cabin crumbs would be better. She made a couple of the log cabins before switching to the diagonal string blocks. I kept making log cabin crumbs and then 3 more sets of the letters when she decided not only did she want that L-O-V-E 4-patch back, but an additional two blocks. I made her extra so that I could still do a little quilt with all these bits.

I wouldn't say that Crumby Lost Love is exciting, but I think it will look nice when the quilting is finished. I love throwing the letter blocks in amongst the crumbs.

Bonnie made a V-block that started coming apart in the middle. D'oh. I "forced" her to use a V that she wasn't happy with (not much bottom), but not this one. When the seam is already fraying out, it's time to lose the block. So I cut the bad block apart, losing the problem bit but gaining a couple of unexpected angles in the crumb units (they're to the left and above the E). See, you can't go wrong playing. Almost everything can be repurposed somehow.
I'm quilting the border with freehand fans. I know, what a surprise. But I bet you weren't expecting Elvis on the back of the quilt:

I've seen too many Monty Python episodes in my life. I can't help but add: No one expects the Elvis Inquisition. Anyway. These fan arcs are going in about 5/8" apart. I love the look of the fans close together and they are easier to do this way.

I want my husband to recover from his cold, but quick. He's rather pathetic and I'm afraid a sinus infection is going to be next. Despite all that, he got the taxes done and I got them to the post office in time. This is not how he was supposed to be spending his vacation.

Monday, April 16, 2007


This post is about love. All sorts of love. I'm loving having my sweetie home, even if he was sick yesterday. He spent the day napping and reading in the recliner. The only good part was having Pokey curled up in his lap or at his feet.

I loved having Bonnie here. I told you that I got distracted from working on stringed diamonds. Bonnie and I decided to work on a project together. I've really wanted to see what my L-O-V-E four patch (like I used in Hot Crazy Love, only not that crazy) would look like in more traditional colors. We went to a couple of fabric shops and came up with these fabrics to enhance Bonnie's crumbs. There is a half yard piece here, a couple of thirds, lots of fat quarters, and a couple of Moda packets of 5" squares. I love the fabric that has handwriting on it (lower right) and the map with exotic places.

We threw in some of my bright fabrics as well, but only tonal fabrics, no novelty prints. Bonnie and I have different ways of working. She likes to sew the blocks, and then sew them into larger units (in this case, a 4-patch) as she goes. That makes me crazy. I love to play with the blocks and their arrangement. We made these my way, so that all our letters would get mixed in together. Here's Howler with our L-O-V-E blocks. These are 3.5" unfinished.

Bonnie realized that she needed to make this quilt top her own, give it that Bonnie touch. She started string piecing diagonally on squares, which were then set in Xs. Pokey is licking her lips in anticipation.

Bonnie sewing away.

And the completed center of Love on a Shoestring Budget:

Bonnie has a picture of her string Lone Star over at her blog.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

String-Pieced Diamonds

Sad to say that my friend Bonnie is on her way back home. I can't believe how much got accomplished while she was here, mainly by her. I enjoyed watching the whirlwind in action. When I said that I gave Bonnie some of my diamonds, I should have clarified that I only gave her three little ones. She did all the rest of the work herself. This is what some of her diamonds looked like before trimming:

Bonnie got the center of her stringed lone star done. I didn't get a good picture of it, but I bet one will show up on her blog one of these days. Isn't it incredible?

She's going to experiment with border options at home. I'd leave it as is - I'm not sure if that's laziness or not.

I got distracted by another project and didn't sew any more diamonds after my last post. I'll show you pics of the new project(s) in an upcoming post.

My husband arrived last night and it sure was good to see him. The little cats were instantly sweet and happy to see him too, but the big boys hid under the bed. Silly cats. So now my sweetie is off at the beach, his true dream vacation and I need to get back to my quilting. Take care everyone.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Why We Have Design Walls Part 2

Who's making a mess?

My fabulous friend Bonnie is visiting, sewing up a storm. Her ability to just sit at the machine and sew is incredible. I have to get up constantly, make another cup of tea, stretch... whatever. That's why she's done so much. She brought her big blue bin full of scraps and strings and is working out of that, along with a few bits from my collection. Her husband is apparently incredulous that she drove all the way down here just to sew.

Bonnie's wonderful creation, as of last night, with Habibi watching closely.

Howler checked it out as well:

I haven't accomplished much. I started out sewing diamonds using Bonnie's scraps in all colors as well as my brights, but wasn't happy with the results (which are now incorporated into Bonnie's star). Not satisfied with what I'm doing so far, but each time I look at it, I can see what I need to change. Far more of the blocks have to be made straight across the diamond, instead of all angly. Use few novelty/heavily patterned fabrics per diamond and make the strings skinnier. Meanwhile, here is Pokey rolling all over my work:

The cats hid the first hour Bonnie was here, but that was it. I've been spending far too much time this morning trying to figure out the paperwork and beaurocracy to get these kitties overseas. Good thing they're worth it.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Why We Have Design Walls, Not Design Floors

The kitties were making it difficult for me to look at my X and O blocks a couple of days ago. The ever photogenic Pokey:

The elusive and rarely photographed Howler:

And Bibi didn't want to be left out. In fact he kept rubbing up against me and knocking my camera around - as I tried to take a good pic of Howler - before finally settling down.

I've actually got more sewn together now, but no pics yet.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Threadying Away

Color Thready on 4 April (taken with a flash)

Color Thready 5 April

And today. I don't know how much difference you can see from one pic to the next, but the thready is coming along. I'm working with a limited palette - I only have about 25 different colors of embroidery floss. Previously when I've made these I've had a lot more than that.

While I'm working on it, it's very easy to get lost. It looks really cool close in. Pay no attention to the cat hair. I can't help getting that in there. I didn't measure before I started working the floss, but right now the piece is measuring 6.5" square-ish. It was at least an inch bigger than that before.

The back looks cool too. I just weave the ends in - no knots. I learned the hard way what a problem they can be everytime you sink your needle into them.

Patti asked what thread I use for quilting. Take a look at my thread tutorial on - it may answer your questions. If you want to know about a particular quilt, just ask.

I was blissed out today watching Season 3 of Entourage. I get a real kick out of that show. And watched the first ep of The Shield Season 5. That show depresses the hell out of me, but boy what a cast and I can never figure out what is going to happen. Now if they just keep Dutch away from the cats, we'll be cool and I'll keep watching. I was refusing to watch after Season 3, but they pulled me in with Glenn Close.

Top Design really pulled its head out of you know where and is now really good. I highly recommend the last three episodes. You know how easy it is to catch repeats on Bravo, so go do it.

And Maggie, I went to the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore last December (see post here) and loved it.

My sweetie has now made our plane reservations so if all goes smoothly I'll see him soon and then we'll have April in Paris. Isn't that a movie title or maybe a song?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Color Thready and Ibis Applique

I needed a project to do by hand, so I started a new thready last night. Thready is my name for an embroidery where I start out with a piece of fabric and entirely cover the surface with embroidery floss in running stitches. Previously I've couched down yarns and other fibers, but not this time.

Last night I basted on bits of fabric too small to piece with, primarily batiks. I won't completely cover the fabric areas with stitches. I added more fabric after taking this pic.

And this is what it looked like just minutes ago. It's hideous and disjointed now, but there is a lot (I mean a LOT) more to do. Why is it that I love projects which have so much hand stitching or quilting in them?

My big news is that I am now a member of the Planet Textile Threads group blog. My blog goes on as usual, however my posts also now appear on the aggregate blog, along with the other members. That includes Pam RuBert which about makes me want to pass out with joy. I've been reading her blog for two years.

The reason I was chosen had a great deal to do with my love for and frequent posting about unusual textiles. I may have to rehash previous posts to get material, but at least today I've got something new for you.

This is an Egyptian Tentmaker Applique that my friend Susan bought in approximately 1982. I love the enormous ibis, much larger than the man, standing on the Nile River. I don't recall seeing appliques with borders like this one, which was appliqued, not pieced.

A lotus flower and an Eye of Horus.

A closeup of the ibis.

And three tiny pyramids off in the distance.

I haven't been feeling especially great the last few days. I think I now have too much thyroid medication in my system. I thought it would give me all sorts of energy and I'd get so much accomplished but instead I just feel jittery and overcaffeinated (which I'm not). Should have the lab results back tomorrow so the doc can adjust my meds.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Another Finish

I finished quilting Fruit Punch this morning. Woohoo. That's Lily's tail sticking out - she loves to get under quilts, fabric, clothes, sheets, you name it. She's UnderCat (although she doesn't fight crime like UnderDog, for you fellow 1970's cartoon watchers).

Habibi apparently decided that the only way to get his picture taken is to be right in the middle of my sewing. (It's hard to be so unphotogenic - the little ones get all the camera attention.)

I have some Os now to put with my Xs (the ones that haven't been cast aside that is). The final quilt won't look anything like this - there isn't a chance in hell I'll play with Y-seams.

I'm contemplating sewing on strips to make units bigger here and there, but I love the way it looks when these blocks touch each other. Something to comtemplate. I'm not photographing on a white background anymore - I think that skews how I look at the colors and how they're working together. Beige works better for this (there's no chance I'd want to add beige to the quilt, whereas white was kind of appealing).

I watched the movie Infamous this morning about Truman Capote. Very well done. Incredible cast, tho it really irks me to see all these fabulous actresses in such bitty roles and yet not starring in films of their own.

On a more somber note, I know my dry cat food is safe for the kitties (Iams - no wheat gluten and NOT made by Menu foods). Hope all dog and cat owners living in the states have checked to make sure their pets' food is safe.

Sarah Mary Taylor

Here's a book recommendation: Just How I Picture It in My Mind: Contemporary African American Quilts from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. This is Lily doing her best Vanna White impersonation:

The book features 48 quilts from primarily Alabama (including Gee's Bend). One of my favorite quilters, Sarah Mary Taylor from Yazoo, Mississippi, has 5 quilts in the book. This is The Lord is My Shuper:

An excerpt from the book: "Story quilts, also called 'narrative' quilts, belong to the venerable tradition of using art to transmit knowledge from one generation to the next. ... A subcategory of story quilts is talking quilts, which spell out messages in actual letters, and the message forms the entire design of the quilt top. ..."

One of Sarah Mary Taylor's quilts, Bible Verse Quilt: The Lord is My Sheperd, was a big inspiration when I started playing around with letters in my quilts. None of my quilts has ever ended up looking anything like hers, but I love the idea of the words being the sole focus. I have a picture of this quilt in the excellent (and also highly recommended) book Quilts: a Living Tradition by Robert Shaw.

Hmm, it's interesting that the quilts in Just How I Picture It belong to a fine art museum, not a folk art museum.