Friday, February 27, 2009

Playing with Lily

Thank you, Lynda, for the colorful name block. I love your a in particular. Thank you, Kristin, for your name and the fun orphan blocks. woohoo.

I made this little video so that my husband could see Lily in action. Lily and I often play together this way - I jab my finger at her and she attacks. I think my husband is convinced I'm going to poke her eye out one of these days - he worries too much.

video

I've got a couple of quilting blogs for you to check out. 

First, I love all the bright color and liberation going on over at Bebe's Boutique. Whee, and now she's making letters too.

Rachael Adele at Park Avenue Sweatshop is making wonderful scrap quilts that have a bright, fresh sensibility. 

On a complete change of topic... So not happy with how Top Chef turned out. Haven't watched the finale of Season 5 yet? Stop reading. I'll talk about Hell's Kitchen first (spoilers there too), and then back to Top Chef.

The right person definitely got sent home this week. Good riddance to Seth. eeuw, same towel to rub your face and the pan. Lacey did so much better this week (or at the very least she wasn't constantly getting yelled at).  I hope she gets a fresh start on the Blue Team. But was that Robert making a rude remark about Lacey's weight? Hello, Kettle, this is Pot calling. Jerk, he lost any sympathy I had for him.

Oh, Carla. This was supposed to be the best meal you ever turned out. YOU, not your sous chef. Sigh. Oh yes, I'll try this new technique I'm unfamiliar with. Gah! What a disappointment. And Hosea wins? Did he win a single challenge? I can't remember one. He always seemed just good enough to get by, never really terrible. Have to say, I'd prefer to see the judges pick a winning meal BUT choose the Top Chef by their work throughout the competition. I'd even graciously see Stefan win that. But Hosea? Bleck.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tropical

I figure, why have a picture of just fabric, when I could instead have a picture of fabric AND cats. Back when I had kittens in the house, it wasn't optional. Fabric? Camera? Inevitably Lily or Pokey would arrive and get in the way. Now they're not doing it so much anymore so I have to work harder. I figured the cat tree would make a great display spot for this potential border fabric. It's Tropical by Phillip Jacobs for Rowan. Bibi isn't very interested.

I admit it, I went and grabbed Lily and put her on top of the fabric.


Yes, her eyes really are this green.

I have to take lots of cat photos for my husband, who's far away right now. It took a lot of work to get a photo of Howler when he's a) awake and b) not fleeing. Howler looks so funny all smudgy like this - my husband just thinks I'm mean for laughing at the poor creature.

I tried using a new kitty litter made out of corn. It's turned into a powder and just gets all over Howler. Maybe the other kitties too, but you can't see it on them. At least it's a food product, but I will not be buying this litter again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Double 9-Patch Margarita Quilt?

I have a few Lazy 9-Patches for making another Margarita Quilt. And bunches more strips cut too so I can make more whenever I'm in the mood. From the very beginning I was thinking I'd like to make a Double 9-Patch. [Don't know what a Double 9-Patch is? Look here.] I got excited to play with the blocks when I found this gorgeous floral fabric which I could use as a border. Here's a potential layout:

The blocks look good with the border:

But is it just me or is this awfully white? White, white, white. I do want it to have some zing.

Hmm, but zing could be a bad thing too...

I'm not in any hurry to put this together, just wanted to have some fun playing. I took some shots of kitties modeling the floral fabric, but those will have to wait for their own post. Meanwhile here's a sleepy Pokey to tide you over.

I haven't sat at the sewing machine in days. Instead I've been firmly planted on the sofa watching old episodes of The Office. I'm now finished with Season 4 and all I want to do is keep going. 

Netflix now has a great feature where you can get all sorts of tv shows and movies sent directly to your tv without having to wait for DVDs (so long as you have the proper device).  Wheee, does that make it easy to marathon. Rather dangerous too. I watched the second episode of McMillan and Wife and just laughed my way through it.  Wife just kept shrieking "Mac" throughout the episode and all I could think of was my friend Siobhan calling for her Scottish Terrier.

Back on the subject of fabric: Laurie Ann is offering up a gallon-sized freezer bag full of Christmas strips. If you like them, you can send her a brights fat quarter in return. If you're interested send me an email and I'll forward it on to her. [the strips have found a home, thanks. no need to mail me.]

Today I'm finally going to be good and get some packages in the mail myself. I hate doing chores. At least I get to go to the library too! 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

More Names

More names for my future Name Sampler arrived yesterday - woohoo. Thank you, Katie and Nichi! I love how much diversity in colors and styles this quilt is going to have.

While I had the camera out, managed to catch Pokey and Habibi enjoying life in the cat tree. I have no idea what caught their attention - but they were both looking at something.

I watched the second episode of Dollhouse. What a relief - that was much better. Okay the main storyline wasn't that exciting, but I loved seeing the relationship between Echo and her handler; not to mention Alpha, and the creepy head of security (who definitely needs to get his ass kicked), and Echo remembering things she probably shouldn't. Woohoo, here we go.

Who else is watching Top Chef? I was so excited to be rid of Leah, who seemingly advanced way beyond her talents. But Fabio? Say it isn't so. He was a hoot, I would much rather have lost Stefan. I'm definitely pulling for Carla - hootie hoo!!!

Hell's Kitchen is amusing, but definitely not as good as Top Chef. What precisely was the point of making the chefs eat raw organ meat? Sorry, I can understand a lot of the other abuse goes a long way to getting these guys to pull together as a team and follow orders precisely and quickly, but that? Unnecessary and not entertaining.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tula Pink and Hulu's Evil Plot

Whee, new fabric from the Fabric Square Shop! These are some of the fabrics from Nest by Tula Pink. My absolutest favoritest fabric is the one in the top right. I love the colors, the design, the flow of it all. And yes, it has brown in it.

Violette Severin did a fun interview with Tula here. And you can read the TulaPink blog too. I'm fascinated by the whole fabric design process, so it's fun to get glimpses of how it works - for instance, the colorways that didn't get chosen.

This next one is another Tula Pink called New Moon Forest.  I wouldn't have thought it (sounds too sweet) but I love the bunny in damask.

These are from another Moda packet, this one called Soiree. Wheeeee, the colors are so bright and happy.

And now for something completely different, a few from City Traditions. These ones are going to work well with the repro sampler I'm working on right now.

Look at how they go together. Obviously I need a few more dark darks in here:

It's definitely been good mail around here. I got this wonderful name and letter blocks from Jude. So wonderful to actually get to hold something from Jude and see the unusual fabrics she uses - they aren't the quilting cottons that cram my drawers, except for that one black with bright pindots...

I'm continuing to hand quilt Raspberry Rumspringa. I'm finally done with the border and am working on my second block. But I'm just not sure how much quilting is too much, and should certain areas be left empty...  I'll keep going. I figure I'll err on the side of too much.

Last night I watched the black and white version of The Mist which was based on a Stephen King novella of the same name. I really enjoyed reading the story but always thought the ending was lame. Well it was a heck of a lot better than the horrible nasty vile ending the movie used. awful. and it really changed the way I felt about the movie which had been really well done up to that point. Lots of suspense, not too gory and the humans could be as monstrous as the creatures outside.

On the much lighter side, I'm watching American version of The Office. I tried watching the British version as well, but as much as I adore Ricky Gervais I couldn't stand the show without Rainn Wilson. So I'm on the second season and loving it. Not as great as Arrested Development, but what could be?

Watched the second season of 30 Rock and loved it as much as the first. If only the season hadn't been cut short. I'm really tempted to get one of those Sabor de Soledad t-shirts... hee hee hee

I also just finished rewatching the first season of The Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles. I really enjoyed it again - it's a show for me. I was hoping that I'd be able to go to the Fox website or Hulu.com and get all caught up with the current season, but no such luck. They'd already removed the first couple of episodes. Guess I'm going to have to wait for the DVD to come out.

Speaking of Hulu.com have you seen the wonderful ad with Alec Baldwin about the evil plot to take over the world? I LOVE this:



If all commercials were this entertaining it would be a lot easier to watch live tv and not just DVDs.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kitschy Bar

When my friend Susan was here we went to a really fun bar on the Intercoastal Waterway. What can I say, I love Beach Kitsch:





I experimented with exporting file sizes and image quality from iPhoto. Picasa was still easier, but I'll get better at this eventually. These are my small images and they really are small.


My power went out as I was writing this post and now I've completely lost my train of thought...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Repro Sampler

Don't fall out of your chairs, but I'm working with reproduction fabric. Browns and beiges even - what the heck happened? I'm using lots of scraps from Siobhan, as well as a few shirt fabrics from Bonnie, and a couple of the plaids I bought in Holland. It's a fun mix. I did have to sort them into two different bins though, lights and darks.

It became clear pretty quickly that there were some fabrics I had to set aside. Lots of those repros are BUSY and that just wasn't going to work for this project. I'm making letters that are not only larger than I usually work, but also much scrappier. This was a test photo to make sure everything was working okay:

See, it got plenty busy all on it's own when I started adding all the fabrics that go around the letters. I ended up making these blocks larger than I intended - the letters needed room to breathe. These are the blocks I've completed at 7.5". Oh, and I did put some of the extra busies back in - like that red and yellow in the D block - when they weren't going to touch a letter fabric.

I was thinking about sashing them with cheddar and red corner posts, but I'm kinda liking them all together like this. I've only put them together to look just this once. I'm trying to not overthink it. Let me tell ya though, that R was wretchedly bad. Just so lifeless. I added extra zing to the top of it and now it's at least not a total loser.

Oh, and I'm not sure if I should maybe make some more blocks - go for all the lower case letters as well. Could be fun - make it into a lap quilt. decisions, decisions.

My back and shoulders are aching. I am a pathetic specimen - it doesn't take much sewing to do me in.

About yesterday's post, yes Quiltmaker most definitely gave me credit and even a paycheck for the article.

I ended up removing Picasa from my Mac. Yes, I love that program and I think it's a lot easier to use than iPhoto, but I HATED the fact that it always made a duplicate photo and let iPhoto keep the original. I'd make changes and then I swear iPhoto would pick it up as a new photo.... Just had way too many photos floating around. So I don't love iPhoto but I'm making it work. One thing I haven't figured out is how to resize the photos so everything is coming across LARGE into the blog. At least you get to see the details that way.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quiltmaker

Look at these great name blocks I got from Brenda, Victoria, and Lynne. These are going to be fabulous in my Name quilt. Brenda and Lynne were so sweet and sent additional blocks, so it's embarassing to admit that I pounced right in playing and mixed them up with other orphans - before I got photos. Eeek, sorry. Thanks, guys!

I wanted to let you all know about Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts by Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms. The book is about making full-sized quilts with little blocks. The authors dedicated it to Gwen Marston and included one of Gwen's beautiful basket quilts. My favorite (other) part of the book is the medallion quilt where they put Gwen's theories into practice - if something doesn't fit, just whack it off. Woohoo! A great book for taking baby steps towards liberation.

In other publication news, check out Quiltmaker magazine's March/April '09 issue. They took inspiration from my wonky houses tutorial and wrote a fabulous article on free-piecing houses. Pokey is intrigued:

Quiltmaker did a great job of showing the steps needed to build the houses and an even better one of putting the houses together into a top. Lily was willing to pose for me today:

In other news, Florida continues to be good to me. I'm amazed at how much color my skin has already picked up from just walking around - I certainly haven't been laying out. I'd better be careful though or I'm going to turn into a leathery raisin.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fabric Shopping with Gwen

I know Bonnie already shared several stories about our adventures in Sarasota, so I won't repeat all of that. But I do have to say, the woman offering fabric shopping advice -- so that Gwen could be a real quilter -- was an absolute hoot. Luckily I was behind some fabric bolts otherwise my  snort-chortling would have been audible.

After our lunch at the Amish restaurant (no, I didn't have the Noodles Over Mashed Potatoes) we wandered over to Alma Sue's quilt shop. Gwen is waiting while her fabric gets cut - that's her stack on the right. And whee, she's touching the fabric in my stack!

This is another quilt that Gwen graciously allowed us to photograph. It's going to be in her new book with Freddy Moran called Freddy and Gwen Collaborate Again which Lark Books is publishing in May. This quilt is so bright and happy and I love that fabric with the wavy stripes that she managed to get just right in the border.

A detail shot:

I love the back of the quilt with the big bold flowers:

On the subject of fabric, yes, I definitely bought some in Sarasota. This stack is from Sew Worth It

The fabric from Alma Sue's Quilt Shop. They were having a sale on Amy Butler and Kaffe Fassett. I would definitely have bought more of the bright fabric paisleys on the chocolate brown background - that would be a good fabric to help me integrate brights with everything else. 

I stepped out of my box to get some repros at Cotton Patch Quilt Shop, but yes, still having problems integrating them in with my happy fabric.  Some of this fabric is coming your way, Will!

Generally though, have to say I think I did a fairly decent job of buying lights. At least better than I used to do. sigh. It's hard.

My kitties have become quite the loungers here in Florida. It used to be I had fabric out for photography and one of my little kitties would instantly have been on the table. Not so much anymore. Much better to just sleep in the sun apparently. Actually, Lily did visit a bit, but wasn't willing to pose. I guess she needs time off from her modeling job.

Yesterday it got really hot here for February. 82 degrees. That's hot for me anyway, not necessarily for Florida.

This is the last day my friend Susan is in town. I'm going to be sad and pathetic now.

Did anybody else watch Joss Whedon's Dollhouse? I hate to say it, but I was disappointed. Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Those two completely grabbed me and held on from the very beginning. This one, enh. I really wish Joss would change his mind and add more humor to the show, cuz otherwise it feels like a hard slog.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Me, Gwen Marston, and Bonnie

Woohoo!!! On Tuesday I met my hero, Gwen Marston. She is wonderful, sweet and so generous with her time. 

To fill in a bit, on Monday I drove four hours to Sarasota and picked up Bonnie at the airport. We visited a quilt shop, had Mexican food for dinner and basically talked and talked and talked. We spent the next day with Gwen, our marvelous Liberated Quilting leader and all around inspiration. 

Bonnie and I brought quilts to show Gwen, quilts with free-pieced letters and strings and crumbs. We were also lucky enough to see some of Gwen's quilts, which are as marvelous as I imagined. She allowed us to take some photos so that we could share them with you. 

Gwen made the center and first couple of rounds of this medallion quilt using scraps of fabric her students left on the floor during Working With Solids class. This quilt is going to be featured in the new Liberated Quilting book she's working on, so this is a sneak preview.

When Gwen is working on the hand quilting, she'll spend 1o hours a day (not including breaks) sitting at the frame working. No wonder she gets so much done.

I wanted you to be able to see the amazing details. These photos should enlarge when you click on them. I think.

Whee, both Bonnie and I got our Liberated Quiltmaking books signed.

A photo of me, Gwen, and Bonnie. You don't want to look at this one closer - I look too goofy. I'm definitely more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.

It was great to get the chance to ask Gwen questions about quilts and quilting, but also about publication. I've learned something important - just how little a quilter earns from their books unless they self-publish. A quilter will earn something like a dollar for every book sold. If they're lucky. It could be less, especially if it's a duo writing the book.

So if you have favorite quilters and want (and are able) to do more to support them, buy from them directly. They make quite a bit more money on the books they sell themselves on their websites or in their classes or lectures. It really makes a big difference. Plus you can get the book autographed.

Some of the quilts Gwen showed us were from Ideas and Inspirations, which Gwen self-published along with photographer Gregory Case. I got to see my favorite quilt Strippy which really is gorgeous. You can get the book directly from Gwen's website although it's also now available online through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and doubtless other spots as well.

I have more photos and stories to share with you, but they'll have to wait for another post. I had a great trip, but it's good to be home with the kitties.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Kitties in Sunshine

I told you that the cats are doing well, right? They're long since gotten over their jet lag, and Bibi isn't singing in the stairwells in the middle of the night anymore. The only lingering thing is Pokey and Lily aren't sweet with each other. They'll play and chase each other around the house, but no curling up together to sleep. They get to close together and it often ends in hissing. The same thing happened when we moved to Paris - it took six months to work through.

All the cats are enjoying the sunshine here. Pokey in a box, Lily tangled in cord:

The little cats love this spot behind my computer, next to the window. It's the first place in the morning to get sun.

Pokey and Habibi taking a break in the cat tree:

Lily half out of the carrier, soaking up the rays:

I know this looks a bit screwy - Bibi is lying on a red boa cat toy with feathers. Lily meanwhile has laid claim to a green shopping bag:
 
No photos of Howler today. He's not photogenic, plus he often runs away when I come near him with the camera - not a good combination. Howler is doing so well here and is so happy. In Paris he was peeing on the sofa, peeing on the bed, in my scrap bin... it made life difficult. I don't know if he felt insecure there (lots of dogs could have lived in that apartment, which was over a hundred years old), missed seeing nature out the window, or just had problems with the minerals in the water. Here he is a happy boy and oh boy he gets to sleep on the bed again! He often curls up on my side of the bed with his head on my pillow - it's very endearing.

It's gotten a bit colder here - have had the heat on for several days in the morning. Still marvelously happy to be here though, believe me.

Yesterday I went with my friend to look at townhouses and duplexes that are for sale. Rather horrific how badly prices crashed in the last couple of years and the number of foreclosures... argh. I am amazed at how some of these places look. Don't these people watch any HGTV? Take care of those roof leak stains on the ceiling - that is just something you don't want to see and worry about.

My favorite decorating to sell show is The Unsellables. I love the host Sofie's english accent and she's very commonsense about it all. She'll take the home-want-to-seller to see an equivalent home that just sold and it will be in immaculate condition. Really gives you a way to see what a difference decluttering and fixing a few problem areas can make.

I just wish I could watch British decorating shows. In Cairo we got to see all sorts of them and it was heaven. I mean, let's face it, some of those English homes are awwweful and funny. Horrific patterned carpets and wallpaper and curtains.... My favorites were Kevin McCloud's Grand Designs and Grand Designs Abroad. Moving to a foreign country where you don't speak the language and acting as the contractor to build a house? Eeek, crazy people. And before any of you say it, already tried to watch these programs online, but it won't let me - have to be in the UK. I just wish some channel would show them stateside.

I've watched some movies. I thought Hellboy II was disappointing. I loved the first one but this one didn't have enough of the main characters. Certainly beautiful to look at and I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more on the big screen. 

The other movie was Forgetting Sarah Marshall about a composer who goes to Hawai'i to get over the break-up with his girlfriend only to discover her there with the new man in her life. It had cute bits, but did it really have to be that crude and graphic? Bleck, but maybe that's how you get men to go to a romantic comedy. The best bit of the movie was definitely the Dracula musical preformed with puppets - I would so go to see that at a theater. It's worth renting the movie just to see that bit.

On a blogging note, Fabric Fanatic wanted to know how I get the pictures to show up in my blog list on the sidebar. Add a "Blog List" gadget to your sidebar and then select the "thumbnail of most recent item" option. voila.

That's all from here. Ya'all take care.