Friday, March 31, 2006

Tentmaker Patterns

Thank you all for the nice words about the quilt box and the quilts in it. You'll get to see them, you will. Just not yet. I only have a limited number of quilts, I can't blog them all at once ya know. Just like Santa, I'll know if you've been good or not. When the time is right, the quilts will be revealed.

In the meantime, here's a trip to a nearby Tentmaker's place. I was going to crop this picture down, but then thought you might enjoy just the glimpses of the different styles of work.

But my primary focus this trip was these two pieces. They're made with the same pattern. I'm pretty darn sure that the light blue in each of the quilts is the same fabric, and so are many of the other fabrics, but the placement is different in each one.

Unfortunately I got this one overbrightened in Picasa. I think it should be a bit softer.

So yesterday we had dinner over at friends'. It was my responsibility to make dessert and I discovered too late that I didn't have enough sugar. D'oh. The brownies, which are usually fabulous (the One Bowl Brownies recipe off the Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate box) were way too "healthy" tasting. Bleah. If I'd had more time to think about it (and have known how blechy they were going to turn out anyway) I'd have replaced some of the flour with sweetened cocoa. If they're gonna be bad, might as well experiment.

Pokey had a bad day yesterday. Not only did I walk into her (I most certainly didn't kick her - she was just all of a sudden in my way) but less than an hour later she got her tail caught in a closing door. Aiyee, that cry of pain is heart-rending. She's fine.

I've been doing a wee bit of quilting and sewing while watching the ridiculous BBC/Sci-Fi Channel mini-series "Invasion Earth." Can't say it's grabbing me at all, but I guess I'm enjoying it enough to have it on while I do other things.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Quilt Display Box

I took the plunge and loaded up my quilt box (for lack of a better term). What do you think? And by the way, the ugly carpet isn't mine - colors are way too dull for me.

I layered the bottom with a couple of really bright but cheap carpets. I used loads of acid-free tissue paper between the folds of the two large (for me) quilts that are in there. (And no, you haven't seen them full size yet in blogland, but may someday if you're good.) I was rather surprised to discover that I don't have any other quilts in these colors to put in the box. The other quilts are already up on the walls or in storage.

My sweetie was shocked that I intend to use this box as an end table. I figure it has to be functional, or what's the point. I do realize that little cat claws are going to scratch it up some and no doubt the little boogers will continue to knock water glasses over. That's life. Theoretically the box is polyeurothaned, so I suspect it'll do fine. And if it doesn't that just helps it look antique...

Now if anything bad happens to the other gorgeous, intricate cabinet I will bawl my eyes out. I love that thing. It's going to be our tv cabinet so it too will have a function. I'm thinking ahead: in Paris we will have to provide all our own furniture - whatever gets shipped from here or from storage. We didn't have a tv cabinet (left the ridiculously over-large tv armoire with the doors-that-were-never-shut behind in the house when we sold it) and now we will.

Yesterday we had a really oddly-colored dark sky here in Cairo. Wasn't a sandstorm because there was no wind. I was outside walking to quilting bee and couldn't figure out why there were groups of men standing around (that's not the unusual part) all looking up at the sky. Ah, yes, the eclipse. Of course none of the men were wearing any kind of eye protection or looking through the little boxes that I remember using in junior high when we had a partial eclipse. They're all gonna burn their eyes out. Have to admit I snuck a peak too. The sun looked like the moon. A bright white crescent.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Trip Around the World

This post is for Lily (human Aussie blogger Lily, not my cat), who asked what I do with my evil eye protection charms. They are up all over my walls. Some of them are much larger then you might expect. This Trip Around the World, aka Sunshine and Shadow, quilt hangs on the wall near my front door. The quilt is 45" square made up of 1.5" blocks.

It's one of my favorite quilts, made between May 1995 and April 1996. I think the colors and fabric all work. I love how the multicolor fabric gives me purple blocks in one spot and turquoise in another. Everytime I look at it I think, why am I not making another one of these? I guess if I wanted it to look even more Amishy I'd have put a really wide border on it, but I think it works without it.

This is the quilt that I learned what "easing" means, or rather doesn't mean. I was stretching and pulling my fabric to make it fit. D'oh. That is NOT easing. I managed to get it to work anyway and I have a nice chunk of leftovers in my orphan quilt, which I really will work on again one of these days.

Here's a detail. I just quilted Xs in each of the blocks with standard quilting thread.

I tried to get a good shot of my hallway, but it's just too dark. Still, you can see my quilt and some of my charms.

And here's the eye-in-the-hand-in-the-eye good luck piece that hangs next to the quilt. It's made out of faience: earthenware decorated with opaque colored glazes. This is a technique that goes back to the time of the pharohs. They made little blue hippos and things tho, not stuff like this.

Thanks for the lovely compliments about the darling baby Pokey pic from yesterday. She is my sweetheart. And in general, thanks for the comments. I love reading them. Ya'all have a good day.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Little Bit

Hey, I didn't just waste time goofing off today. I actually did some sewing, as well as net surfing. I suppose it helps that I finished off Dead Like Me so I didn't have that distracting me. I found it hard to do anything else but watch that show while it was on. Darn you Showtime for cancelling it. I would say something snarky about how all the tv shows I like get cancelled (I'm still darn cranky about Firefly and Angel) but Stargate SG-1 just seems to keep going and going and going.

I now have all the letters joined for "little spot" and "pumpkin pie" and I've got the letters made for "stinker" and "booboo."

Hmm, another bear reference. Booboo doesn't refer to a mistake but instead to Jellystone Park with Yogi Bear and Booboo. So that makes a Pooh Bear and a Booboo Bear.

I'm not liking how the purple accent is standing out. I did do a Picasa black and white check for contrast and it looked okay that way. Suppose it will be better after I get a bit more in there.

I'm still not completely certain how I'm going to sew this. Could be in rows like Bricks or in clumps, like Reach for the Stars. I'm leaning towards the latter, which is why there are big chunks of fabric pinned up as well as blocks.

Pokey decided that my fabric was the perfect napping spot. I had the towel down to block the sun, but it works as a fur-block as well, not that she sheds much.

In more mundane matters, woohoo, the car is finally fixed and we're now confirmed for our trip to Abu Simbel and Luxor. We've actually been to Luxor before, so we're skipping lots of stuff we've seen before like the Valley of the Kings, which I hated. The valley was way overcrowded, too hot even in November, and I felt claustrophobic down in the tombs and the incense was overwhelming... Apparently it's already hit the hundreds down in Luxor so it's just as well we're not going out to the valley where it's extra hot.

It actually rained like mad here in Cairo last night and it's only in the mid-60s right now. Ooh, just checked the internet weather and it says Luxor is 81 right now. Yeah, it's gonna be hot.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Completely Yours

I watched "Walk the Line" on the airplane a couple of weeks ago. Can't say I thought it was all that incredible, tho it might have looked more impressive on a screen larger than 4" high. But one scene made a real impression on me. Johnny Cash wants to make a record. He sings something for the producer, who isn't in the least bit impressed. the producer's heard that before, he wants something else. If Johnny were lying in the gutter, would that be his final song? Would that be what he wants to express to the world with his dying breath? The producer wants to hear a song that is uniquely Johnny Cash, that comes from the heart.

Have you made a quilt that reflects you? That no one else at any other time could have made? I think that's what I love about quilts with words on them and in particular names and dates. It adds a very personal touch. Just take a look at the wonderful quilt that Sarah made for her niece Abby. That is most definitely Abby's quilt, made just for her.

This is another one of my favorites. This is a detail from the quilt "Pieties" made by Maria Cadman Hubbard in 1848:

The quilt is made up of blocks with mostly biblical sayings in them, these great sawtooth stars, and the maker's name and the date. It's a fantastic quilt. You can see the whole quilt, as well as some other great folk art word quilts, here.

I'm not doing something new by playing with letters, quilters have been doing it for many years. My quilts just don't look like theirs or contain the same messages.

Speaking of which, I sewed the letters for two more terms of endearment yesterday, and one this morning. Now I have some ironing to do. I'm crossing my fingers that Blogger will soon get over whatever difficulties it has been having with posting pics.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Don't Hate Me

Okay, I'll tell you where our next post is. You have to promise not to hate me.

But first, here's the most recent block of Space 4 Rent. There's a giant squid-like alien looming over the house. Maybe he's protecting the house. Or not. Is the little alien in the doorway happy to see him or afraid? Hmmm could be anything.

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the idea of moving. The giant squid monster hovering in the background. Could be a good move, might not be. But it's gonna be a change and I hate change. I mean really hate change. I hate moving and starting over. I hate living so far away from friends and family and I hate flying in planes. And yet here I am doing all those things. And not just once, but pretty much over and over again. Sigh.

I do this voluntarily and am always happy whenever I get to wherever I'm going and get settled. I like being settled and having routines. It's the transition period that bites. So I'm going to sound crankier than I should about what should be making me ecstatically happy.

Our next post is Paris. At least theoretically. It's been assigned,we're supposed to go there, but so much can change between then and now, so I'm not holding my breath. Don't want to be too happy about it so that if the plan changes I won't be crushed. But there you have it. We're supposed to be in Paris, probably by the end of the year.

I don't know any of the details yet. Don't have them and won't for ages. That's part of what makes me irritable. This move is going to be hard. We came here without cats and now we have four to transport and temporarily house while we're back in the D.C. area for several weeks. And amazingly enough, most places say maximum of two pets. And that might be the case with Parisienne (however that is spelled) landlords as well.

I know there will be good, excellent, fantastic, wonderful, happy things about Paris. I know that. Just hard to see at the moment. I'll be fine once we're settled. And hey, if you're a quilter and you live in Paris, please email me.

I've dragged my fabric back out for "Terms of Endearment" - unfortunately I've mixed piles up and I have to figure out exactly which ones I was using and which of my new ones will work. I've decided to toss a few blocks out, which I'm not sure I ever even posted. I don't want such deep dark reds and oranges. I finally got most of the fabric and baggied strips and the sewing machine all ready to go and then I decided to come sit and chat with ya'all instead. Ooh, lazy gal strikes again.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Hey ya'all. Sorry I've been missing in action for the last few days. Have to say that the combination of living in the dark along with returning to the pollution, traffic, and car problems threw me for a bit of a loop. I so do not do well without the sun. But hurrah, hurrah, the scaffolding and workmen have gone and I have precious light once again.

I mentioned in my last post how I'm surrounded by eye images here. Well these are a couple of my good luck charms, tho that may not be the proper terminology for them. They are protection against the evil eye. Both the eye shape and the color blue are symbolic of that.

Emotionally, I'm in a countdown until we leave Egypt. I had a long honeymoon period of being thrilled to live here - it lasted two years. But now that I know the end is in sight, I'm more annoyed than ever by silly things. Our tour is up on October 6th, tho we may get out of here a tad earlier than that. So we've got six months left. Trying to get all my "exit shopping" done, tho for the most part I don't have any major items left on my list. Now it's more a matter of all the places we haven't seen.

I've finally decided to start planning day trips and little holidays, rather than waiting for my husband to tell me when is a good time to go. I'm done with that - I'll pick and he gets to go. We've lived here 2 1/2 years and have only been to the pyramids at Giza once and that was just after we got here and were still jet-lagged and my sweetie had a cold. So we need to do that properly and he's never been to the Egyptian Museum here in Cairo. Pretty silly when he works just a 15 minute walk away from it. Our big trip will be in April - a trip south to see Abu Simbel and more of Luxor. Assuming we can get there that is - we're wait-listed for flights.

What else is up? I've gotten a couple more blocks quilted on "Space 4 Rent." I decided to test Bonnie's theory of every fabric works so long as it's cut into small enough pieces. I have a bunch of 1 1/2" squares and I still don't like the fabric, but they aren't sewn yet, so I need to be patient. I'm thinking of a 9-patch leaders and enders project. Something mindless.

I'm watching "Dead Like Me" which I borrowed from a friend. I was pretty surprised at how much I enjoy it. Very quirky and very much about living in the NOW. Of course it's been cancelled already. Saw M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village" and boy what a pointless movie that was. A great big "so what." I love "The Sixth Sense" but every movie he's made since then has been incrementally worse.

Monday, March 20, 2006

new furniture

Isn't it beautiful? This is the furniture I ordered last month. Came out wonderfully. This first photo is of a quilt display box. There are three panes of beveled glass (which is causing the distortion in the pic) and the rest of it is oak.

Right now it still reeks of stain, but in a couple of weeks I think I will be able to put some of my folded up quilts in there. Right now all my quilts that aren't on display are just heaped in a pile or crammed into pillowcases in the closet.

This cabinet has the most incredible workmanship:

The eleven pointed stars are made out of mother-of-pearl and I'm not sure what (in the old days it would have been ivory) and then individual carved pieces of oak all fitted together to make this gorgeous three-dimensional pattern. I wish I could take a photo that would do it justice, but after many attempts this is the best I could do.

When the furniture maker came to drop it off, he said this cabinet was too much work. (His father is the one who takes the orders.) I'm glad he was willing to do it.

So getting my furniture was a very good thing which happened recently.

On the downside, the car fell apart last night -- and this is after we just had a bunch of work done. The fan belt self-destructed and now it needs to be replaced along with some other gizmo. We either have to order the parts from the states, which takes time, or pay hundreds of dollars more to get them here, if they're even available. Sigh. My husband was lucky enough to get the car to a parking area near a friend's apartment, rather than having it break down completely on the Corniche (the main road which parallels the Nile and is very very busy). That was last night. Now he has to get it safely to Ma'adi with a borrowed fan belt. I'm crossing my fingers...

I got cranky the other day and decided I didn't care if there were workers outside my windows, I wanted some light, goshdarnit. There was no one around and I had them open for a couple of hours before I was asked to close them. I don't know if the closed curtains are for their benefit or mine. Don't know if they're worrying about being exposed to my naked knees and elbows (I'm such a hussy) or just the rampant American consumerism on display.

Thanks for the compliments on my Beady Eye. I have no idea how many beads I used. I think it's one of those questions it's better not to know the answer to. It was a LOT, I know that much. I don't know why I picked an eye as subject matter. In a Halloween context they're kinda creepy, but I'm actually surrounded by eye images on a daily basis, since one of the things I love to collect in Egypt is the tokens to avert the evil eye. Sounds like a topic for me to explore another day...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Beady Eye

Whee, I finished my bead embroidery this morning. This is Eye Beady and measures a bit more than 4" x 3.5".

I started this way back in the fall when Finn and I were talking about eyes (hope yours are well now, Finn!) and of course it was Halloween time then. I stopped when I decided I wanted some orange sequins. Well, my search for them in Florida was a failure, but I did buy some other beads which worked fine. I used a mixture of sizes and finishes as well as some really cheap ones and some expensive ones (which isn't that big of a deal, since I've got loads left for more projects). Think I'm going to get it framed, but without glass, cuz that will just interfere to much with the sparkle.

It took loads of time, but I am happy with it (and happy to be done).

Not much else interesting going on. I refuse to use the sewing machine in the dark, so I won't be doing any piecing until the scaffolding moves. I don't want to turn this into a big whiny post, so I won't say anymore about that.

Hubby and I have started on the third season of "Alias" - hopefully all that nonsense about The Passenger and the Chosen will make more sense this time through.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

String Star

Hurrah, our luggage arrived safe and sound, no doubt after an amazing vacation of their own. When I was telling ya'all about the handwork I'd been doing on vacation, it completely escaped me that all my work was all in the missing bags. D'oh. Good thing, otherwise I'd have been worrying even more about the luggage.

Inspired by Bonnie's recent post of an old maverick string star, plus her gorgeous string kaleidescope which she made with fabrics outside her normal color range, I present to you my string stars quilt.

Yes, this is yet another lousy photo and the quilt is in storage. I got a lot of quilts in storage and I'll be really happy to see them one of these days.

I used all sorts of colors I wouldn't normally put together when I sewed this back in 2003 (or was it the end of 2002?). I blame Siobhan. She was working on a strippy star in all sorts of fun bright citrusy colors. I decided I had to use some lemon, lime and orange too. She gave me some of her leftover strips to help me get started. The colors are kind of obnoxious, aren't they. Maybe I should have used a different background other than that gorgeous red, but that was the one thing I knew I wanted from the very beginning.

I string pieced the diamonds onto paper and then put it all together in the usual way, stinking y-seams in the corners. Boy do I hate insetting seams. I had mini-volcanoes but Bonnie did an incredibly job of quilting this bad boy and it was amazing how flat she got it. I've since figured out that if I just chop those background squares in the corner into triangles and the background triangles into smaller triangles, it would all be straight sewing - no insetting. Definitely the way to go the next time I try this pattern.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Slowly slowly

I'm still not completely here yet. Taking that nap yesterday turned out to be a mistake - couldn't get to sleep last night and then I slept in late. D'oh. I've been better today.

Haven't done anything fun yet, just laundry and grocery shopping. Although driving the car to get the groceries is an adventure itself what with local driving habits and the fact that a temperature gauge needs to be replaced and the transmission could overheat at any moment and then we'd have really big repair bills. Not to mention the fact that I could get stranded with a bunch of groceries. And my cell phone acting up just adds to the excitement. (The phone stopped working yesterday and I trudged all the way over to the Mobinil store and it magically started working again right outside their door. Maybe getting joggled up and down did the trick.)

We still don't have our bags yet. At least Air France found both of them and theoretically they will be on the plane that gets in tonight. I just hope they get delivered before ten. The last time this happened I went stumbling down and it turned out to be someone else's bag. I said "it's not mine" and the delivery guy said "why not?" I thought that was pretty funny. Because it's not, that's why not.

So since I don't have any exciting work in progress to show you, here's a pic of the shells my sweetie found for me on the beach, plus four I found myself. He's truly a sun bunnie. He spent many days (not enough, according to him) soaking up the rays. I spent about an hour on the beach when I was dropping him off so I could have the car. I love the beach, I do, but not for 8 hours in a row, day after day...

Have you seen those rooms where they have shells glued up all over the walls? I think it is sooo cool, but my hubby would shoot me. I could do a nice grotto effect in the bathroom. Not here of course, but in a permanent house.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Back in Egypt

I'm home again. Finding it hard to get back into the swing of things. Still feeling groggy after all that travelling. We got in last night (sans two out of three pieces of luggage, one of which went to Cincinatti without us and the other which is just plain missing) and I slept really well, but still felt it necessary to take a nap with the kittens this afternoon.

Our time in Florida was wonderful and refreshing. Clean air and sunshine does wonders. It was so relaxing to be able to smile and look a man in the eyes without giving the message "I'm a slut" and to walk along a sidewalk without men hissing and clicking their tongues. And to cross my knees and let the sole of my shoe show (very big no-no in the middle east). And crossing streets at crosswalks where the cars actually stop. Yup, it was good to be back in the States.

I didn't end up doing any clothes shopping - pretty surprising. I did buy a bunch of seed beads tho - as shown in the picture at the top. Most of these will be for bead embroidery projects (my patriotic one which I've been working on for years and the eye I started last september) but some will probably end up in jewelry if I ever get back into that again.

I managed one trip to the quilt store, buying almost-solids and fabrics without too strong of a print - the kinds of fabrics I use most these days. All of the beads and most of the fabric was in my carry-on and amazingly the rest was in the one duffle that made it. Woohoo. What didn't make it back (yet) was all the kitty treats and the quilting book I bought.

I did do some work on the Little Devil Thready I took with me - he's almost done. But I didn't really do much handwork. I did get some books from the library (oh, dear sweet library, how I've missed you) and finished "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova (too long and I expected more from the end after trudging all the way through it) and "The Lincoln Lawyer" by Michael Connelly, who's always a good read.

We didn't go to a single movie. I was only interested in Woody Allen's "Match Point" and there wasn't a chance in heck of getting my hubby to see that one. We did watch a lot of "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" which wasn't hard since it's on for hours and hours every night.

That's everything I can think of that's even vaguely interesting. I have scaffolding outside my windows so I'm going to be a mole woman for awhile and probably pretty darn cranky about it. Good to be back and good talking to ya'all.