Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Help Wanted: Halloween Noises

I don't know if any of the rest of ya'all have this problem, but sometimes I get stuck. I have this huge mental list of quilts I want to make and quilts I have to make and I just can't make a decision about any of them. I just keep hand quilting. 

Anyway, I've really been enjoying getting the free-pieced name blocks and I really and truly WILL get them together into a quilt. Anyone want to help me with another quilt (or two or three)?

While you think about it, here's a really and truly gratuitous photo of Pokey, just so that I have a picture in this post. This is from a few days ago, you can see her pink belly from where they shaved her for the ultrasound and the shaved bits on her arms where they had the IVs in.

Unfortunately one of the things that they are monitoring in her blood (the BUN) has gotten worse, while everything else has improved. So that means another trip to the vet in just a few weeks. Poor baby. She's doing extremely well though, playing and happy. Well, happy about everything but those pills.

Okay back to my idea for the quilt that I hope some of ya'all will help me with. It will be a fun quilt especially because you guys come up with different ways for doing things than I do, so it won't just be the same-old-same-old letters from me.

For ages now I've wanted to do a font sampler. I found the post I wrote about it way back in 2006. Yes, I'm a slowpoke. My idea is to have a bunch of words that represent noises you might hear at Halloween.  And they'd be written out in different styles.

Some fun words:

arooo (a werewolf has got to sound like something)
a-whooo  (but maybe it's more like this)
mwa ha ha ha

some font styles:

very tall and skinny
very wide and skinny
letters composed of very narrow AND very wide strips
very short and wide
rounded and curvy
extra angular

This would be a fun chance for you to play with a different style of letters than you usually do AND if you get stuck I'd be happy to give you some ideas of how to proceed. Kind of like a class except that the teacher gets to keep your homework.

For colors I'm thinking: black, orange (okay, that's kind of a given), lime green, purple, yellow and/or white. For the letters and background stick mostly to solids or kinda solidy fabric so that the focus is on the letters and styles, not on busy novelty prints.

Finish each word off as a block. You can frame if it you'd like, but not necessary.

Anyone interested? I sure hope so. Just leave a comment saying what word(s) you'd like to do and in what style. We can definitely have duplicate words and and duplicate styles, but hopefully NOT the same word in the same style. if that made sense. Questions? Just ask. 

Think of another style I haven't included? that would be excellent.

Just to make sure we're clear on this. They have to be free-pieced letters - no applique or anything like that. The words can be in upper- or lower-case or a mix.

oh oh oh, and - as always - if you have any letters that didn't work I'd love to have them. Yes, I know, that's another quilt I still have to get together...

Don't you think this will be a fun teaching example? I always find Halloween is a great holiday to work with because you just can't take it too seriously. My fingers are crossed some of ya'all will play with me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hera Marker

I have actual quilting content in this post - about time you might say. That will be followed by a section on Pokey and the third act will be tv viewing, so you can skip around as you like.

First off, look at the wonderful blocks that Kimberly M sent me. They are all marvelous.

Next, I wanted to show you how I'm quilting the Margarita Quilt. I'm going in straight lines. Well, sorta straight - the lines go from one corner diagonally across the patch and then I skip to the next patch since a lot of them aren't lined up.

After hearing Bonnie rave about her Hera marker I decided to give it a try. I love it. You just press down and that makes the mark - there is no ink or chalk on the quilt. 

A close-up of an area that's been quilted. No, none of my lines are truly straight, not even in the patches, and that's okay with me. Actually, they don't look that bad in the photo - it's when I'm close up and working on them that I really notice it.

So on Monday and Tuesday I taught a class on Wonky Houses and free-pieced letters. My students were great and put up with me even though I was rather rough. I threw them into the deep end and they made some great blocks. I was so focused on "what have I forgotten to tell them" that I didn't take any photos. I'd think of it, but then say, I'll do that later. D'oh.

Okay, no pics of my student's houses, but here are a couple of really fun quilts that Sarah made, including houses.

I did make some friends though - that's the best part of all. Yesterday I actually had a quilting play date - woohoo.

A gratuitous picture of my baby Pokey (and Habibi in the cat tree).

The only way you'd know all the trauma she's been through is by her punk rock hairdo. I've had a mental checklist of her normal activities that I've checked off as she's done them: begging for treats, sitting in a box, chewing on a box, chewing on random paper, scaling the tall cat tree, hunting socks... The only thing I haven't seen her do is jump way high onto a countertop.

The best thing is that she and Lily are being sweet again. A week before Pokey got sick, they had just started sitting together and mutually grooming after the trauma of the move from Paris. 

So all is right with Pokey's world except for the enormous capsules I shove down her throat twice a day. She runs and hides now from me in the morning - heartbreaking. I tried the Pill Pockets, but they were so large that Pokey couldn't even eat a whole one without the pill in it.

On to tv viewing. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but my favorite show on tv right now is Hell's Kitchen. I've thought for a couple of weeks now that the winner is either going to be Danny or Paula - they are the most consistent chefs. No meltdowns, no time outs for Chef to yell at them... I'm rooting for Paula, but Danny deserves it to.

I finished the too short Lost season 4. Loving the flash forwards and looking forward to season 5 getting to DVD. I'm actually waiting for lots of shows to come out on DVD so that I can finally be caught up and watch them live next year. I'm just hoping that will include Chuck (please, NBC, please renew it) and Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles although I'm afraid that one is a goner.

Dollhouse has significantly improved. This last episode where the dead woman got to come back - that actually made real sense to me of why the Dollhouse would exist - rich people regaining youth and vigor. I don't love this show like I've loved Joss' other series. It's a B. I won't cry if it doesn't get renewed.

Man, Pokey just came over and nipped at me for attention - it's been ages since that happened. I am outta here - gotta go play with my baby.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tentmaker Applique and the Baby

Just a quickie post to let ya'all now that Pokey is doing great and everything is good here. I'm still spending loads of time with her - as much as she'll let me. She has a check up on Friday so after we get the results of the blood test from that visit we should know even better how she's doing. But trust me, she's herself again.

We did find out yesterday that her pancreas is working well (that's a relief) and she doesn't have leukemia or any frightening disease like that.

Here are a couple of pics I haven't shown you before of Pokey lying on an Egyptian Tentmaker Applique quilt from Cairo. These photos are from a year and a half ago.

I was actually trying to take a pic of the wallhanging, not Pokey, but you know how that goes.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pokey and a New Book

One of these days this blog will return to a quilting blog with the occasional kitty news. That will be a relief because it will mean that Pokey's health will have returned to normal. Still not there yet.

After rambling around for an hour after she got home yesterday, Pokey settled on my lap and spent a lot of time there. And she slept with me for the whole night - that's a first. I was so afraid she'd be mad at me, but that hasn't been the case.

She's still a bit shaky and can't jump up high. But she's drinking water (only freshly poured cold water in a human glass, but at least she's drinking) and I finally figured out a way to get her to eat. She was having none of the special canned food, so she's now got special kidney problem dry food. And my other three cats Habibi, Howler and Lily do too, because when I tried to separate Pokey out at meal times it just made them all nervous and jumpy - no one was eating. I checked with the vet and he says it's okay, so whew, it's good to have her eating again.

Look at what arrived in the mail - the new Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran collaborative book. Woohoo. It's been a welcome distraction from worrying about Pokey but I haven't looked at it thoroughly enough to do it justice.  But I have noticed this one is more Liberated than the last one, which is another huge Woohoo! I'll let you know more about it after I've read it.

Ya'all take care and no worries if you don't hear from me for a few days. I am my Pokey's plus I'm teaching a class on Monday and Tuesday. Later.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Guess Who's Home

It's hard for me to believe it's happening, but I brought Pokey home this afternoon. She's definitely not 100%, and is a bit shaky, but the vet said she'll do better at home, so woohoo! This is definitely an older picture, because now she's got shaved spots and is a bit rougher looking. Definitely a much happier kitty though. And I am a much happier mommy.

The ultrasound came back without any sign of problems, so right now the only thing up in the air is blood tests which will show if she has a genetic condition that caused the kidney problems. She has to go on a special diet, eat B-Complex goo and take a pill twice a day to help renal function. Fingers crossed she takes her meds like a good girl and continues to improve.

What a relief, though I'm nervous to have her home already. The vet said go ahead and let her roam the house - she doesn't have to be isolated. There's a been a bit of hissing and I suspect it will be awhile before Lily is nice to her again. 

Again, thank you for all the well wishes and words of encouragement. They are greatly appreciated. I need to go back in the other room and stare at my baby Pokey some more, while trying not to smother her with too much affection.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bitty Bit of Hope

The vet just called. Pokey is doing a bit better. Her kidneys are functioning more than they were, whatever infection she had has now cleared up. More blood tests this afternoon and an ultrasound of her kidneys. She ate voluntarily last night and is keeping her head upright more (rather than hanging it straight down). She's even moving around the cage. This is all good news, but I'm afraid to hope too much. But I am all the same. She's my sunshine.

I visited Pokey yesterday. They brought her out to the examining room, with an IV tube still stuck in her leg. She looked better than she had the day before (but since that was absolutely terrible...). Unfortunately she was just scared the whole visit - all those noises and dogs at the vets - she just wanted to escape and curl up in a corner. So I decided not to visit again. Too hard on her. But I just wish I could hold her and see the improvement myself.

Thank you all for the kind messages and thoughts. We're all hanging in there, including my husband who is so far away right now. I think it's hardest on him. I'm at least here with the rest of the cats to give me love. They're not quite sure what is going on. Treat time is different now. Pokey is the ringleader and just begs for those treats. A couple of hours ahead of treat time she starts sitting and staring at me, alternating with jumping into my lap. My poor baby.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


My sweetie Pokey has acute kidney failure. She's at the animal hospital now, but not really sure what they're going to be able to do for her. I've barely been able to stop crying.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Fabric and an Oh No

Whee, more fabric from the Fabric Square Shop

These first are from Benartex's batik line called Sand and Surf. Has anyone hand quilted with Benartex batiks? I hope they're easy to needle.

I love the light softness of Kashmir IV

These Jane Sassaman's are fabulous - so cool in little pieces or larger.

I already had this post started so decided to just keep going with it.

Pokey is sick right now and I'm miserable. Yesterday she slept and slept in the morning and when she got up she was walking as though she had pins and needles in her legs - just not working right - and her head was strangely tilted. I thought maybe she'd had a stroke. We took a trip to the emergency room and it turns out she has Feline Vestibular Disease aka Dizzy Kitty. It's a nasty case of vertigo.

Took a follow-up trip to the vet today for bloodwork and an IV since she's not eating or drinking. Odds are this will go away on its own, but it could be permanent or a sign of a much more serious disorder. Trying not to think about that too much.

I've been spending a lot of time on the floor just watching her, being with her. Not sure she entirely appreciates it - would probably rather be left alone to try and sleep.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Upside Down

I love this picture of upside down Pokey. For one thing my baby is gorgeous and for another you can see my hand quilting on the Margarita Quilt. I'm doing straight-ish lines so that I end up with Xs across every patch (which are each roughly  one inch). As usual, I'm over quilting, but I just love how it looks.

I had my uptake scan yesterday (though I may have to go redo it, bleah) and can now eat whatever I want again. Woohoo! How I've missed my English Breakfast Tea with milk.

A bit of news for you. Bonnie is doing so fantastically well with her book and has contracts for two more. It's amazing and I'm so proud of her. Meanwhile, I'm going to be working on the free-pieced letters book by myself. So there's that. 

Have to admit I've been enjoying taking a break from working on the book and quilts for it and instead quilting Margarita. I want it on my wall, gosh darn it. Nose will be back to the grindstone soon enough.

More quilty stuff... Whee, Sharon got her copy of Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran's new book. Read more here.

Love Bebe's new quilt top with the Liberated Houses and Stars.

Finished watching Lost Season 3. Love that time trip into the future - most excellent. And have to say I'm quite happy they killed off a certain character who annoyed the heck out of me. Anyway, funny to realize that this is another show with non-linear time, kinda like the time loops I was talking about in my last post (but completely different).

How could I have forgotten the Mummy's Hand episode of Buffy from my list of time loops? yes, one of my favorite episodes. I always loved the Geek Troika as villains. 

I have a book recommendation for you. The Magicians and Mrs Quent by Galen Beckett.  It essentially boils down Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters in a world with magic. I loved loved the first part of the book, that really did have Jane Austen down pat. Seriously loved it. Unfortunately the second half turns into Jane Eyre which I don't care for much at all. Still, it's a fun book. Go here to learn more and read an excerpt.

Now I just want my library to get Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. The cover of the book alone is enough to make me want to read it.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Last month V, who blogs as Bumble Beans, came down to visit while she and her family were visiting Florida. Had such a good time talking with her, believe me. She was so sweet and made this quilt for me.  It is wonderful, you can see a pic on her blog that'll give a better idea of the size of it (as well as a peek at Pokey) and see me and V together as well.

V came up with her own way of doing the letters - very appealing. Look at how she did this N - I've never thought of doing an N that way yet it's so simple (well, if you're not splitting it in half and making it multi-colored).

I received a name block from Lois W who used dog fabric because she has three. Look at the really fine job she did on the S - marvelous and I bet it was a lot of work. 

Thank you V and Lois for the prezzies.

Everything here is pretty much the same as always. I'm getting my uptake scan this week (for the thyroid thingie) and boy will I be happy to end this low-iodine diet (which I started way earlier than I needed to because I'm an idiot).

The rest of this post is sci-fi geekness.

I watched the very short Eureka Season 3. Only seven episodes - was it cut short by the writers' strike? Anyway, I just adore the show, I really do and I thought this season was stellar. It's a nice happy show that does have hidden depths especially now that we've seen what could happen in the future. Haven't seen the show? It's kind of Northern Exposure, but with a lot of quirky scientists inventing things that too often go wrong.

Loved loved loved the time loop episode I Do Over. Ooh, it's available on Hulu if you want to watch it here. Not quite sure how you'll like it if you haven't seen the other episodes, but it's fun.

It's hardly surprising I love that ep since I'm fond of the whole Groundhog Day kinda thing. Now it wasn't as good an episode as Windows of Opportunity when Jack and Teal'c were stuck in a loop for months on Stargate SG-1, but what could be?

I'm trying to think of other time loops shows. There was one on X-files but remember that only being so-so. Did you ever see the movie 12:01? A poor guy who works in an office discovers that the lab's physics experiment has gone very wrong and he's the only one who knows it. And uh oh, can he save the girl of his dreams from being murdered? It's low-key and just really sweet.

Somewhere in Time (Christopher Reeve travels back in time to woo Jane Seymour) doesn't count - time travel but not a loop. Do love that movie, or should I say did? I watched it over and over and over again when it first came out. I was in high school and at an impressionable age. Haven't seen it in years though, so not sure how well it's aged.

That's all I can think of at the moment. See ya later. 

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Conversation with Gwen

Wheee, Gwen Marston called me today. That just makes me ridiculously happy.

Her new book with Freddy Moran has just been published. She has it in her hot little hands and says it looks great - she's thrilled with it. Woohoo. The book is titled Freddy and Gwen Collaborate Again and it has the same format as Collaborative Quilting (which if you haven't already gotten, what are you waiting for?) featuring the Parts Department. There are 192 pages, 40 individual quilts and 30 new collaborative quilts. Gwen says that this book includes a discussion about design. I always love learning about how Gwen approaches that topic.

I wish I had actually taken notes. Gwen mentioned that she got some design inspiration from African-American quilters, but I'm not sure if that was for A Part or several. I sure love the giant log cabin blocks in Collaborative Quilting that were inspired by the Gee's Bend quilters. My CQ is in Paris still (along with most of my other books) or else I'd give you the details on that.

I am so looking forward to getting this new book in the mail. You can go to Gwen's website and order it directly from her - she makes more money that way and you can really show your support. Or support your local quilt shop - it's always good to keep them afloat too. In any case, check out the site if you haven't recently because news from Gwen has been updated.

Links to check out. Daily Courage has a sneak peak at the book in this post and will do an excerpt soon. 

Sarah at This is My Heart did an excellent write-up on a Gwen Marston lecture she attended and shows off her liberated stars.

Meanwhile I continue to hand quilt while watching lots of tv. And of course engage in the seemingly endless task of getting kitties off my quilt.

Lois thank you so much for the name block, I'll show it in the next post! Same goes with my wonderful prezzie from Victoria.