Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Medusa at the Grand Palais

Medusa at the Grand Palais:

I've been enjoying spending time with my friend Susan here in Paris. We've had some fabulous meals and made whirlwind visits to several museums. No photos, sorry. The weather has been pretty wretched - more like winter than spring. We have had a good time sitting in covered patios that have space heaters while we drink coffee and watch people rush by with umbrellas. We even had five minutes of hail on Friday.

Tomorrow, far too early in the morning, my husband and I leave for Florida. Oh, do I ever want that sun. I'm not sure how much posting I'll get done there - eek, dial-up.

I totally love Kristin LaFlamme's great Log Cabin with a Twist. First, there's the great liberated log cabin quilt that she'd made with awesome colors: very light and sparkly. Then she's added embroideries of her daughter's drawings. It's a delightful, inspiring quilt.

I've recommended before that you go visit Meg's blog Quilt Words. Well go over there again because she's shared the most lovely quilt she's made using thrift store wools and silks. The quilt itself is incredible and she's just done a great job explaining how she made it. It looks so antique and hey, it's another log cabin quilt.

Jenny Bowker pictured some lovely Egyptian embroideries in her 26 March post to Postcards from Cairo. I've always called the placename where these embroideries come from Akhmim and you can see some of mine here.

Eileen posted a couple of peeks at one of Freddy Moran and Gwen Marston's new quilts called Booby Hatch, which they've made for their new book. Additionally, Eileen will print out the comments made about their books and pass them along to the two authors (since they're not wired themselves). You can tell Freddy and Gwen how much you love them, as well as let Eileen know how much you appreciate the book. It's great to see that some of my friends have commented on Eileen's blog already.

That's it for me. I'm going to continue to be somewhat scarce in blogland. Take care.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Grand Palais Lions

These lions are at the entrance to the Palais de la Decouverte, a wing of the Grand Palais devoted to scientific discoveries. I was tempted to write "guard the entrance" but these lions look too friendly and serene to be guards. That and they're surrounded by roses and cherubs.

The lion on the other side of the steps. I love his face.

My friend Susan arrived on Tuesday for a month-long visit. She's an easy guest since she's lived in Paris before and speaks French. Yesterday we went out for a fantastic Indian food lunch and a trip to the Musee d' Orsay. It was really cold - felt like winter was back.
After some initial skittishness the cats have all adapted really quickly to having her here. I don't know if it's because we just had a guest last week and nothing bad happened to them or if they actually remember Susan - she's visited them in three different countries.
I got a package in the mail yesterday from Tanya all the way over in Japan. She sent me these letters. I think they're all left over from her marvelous wonky words quilt.
These ones in particular are amazing. They are Japanese words. Tanya has done great work getting these characters just right. I'm sorry they didn't find a home on her quilt, but I feel really honored to have them for one of mine.

By the way, if you've sent me letters or other quilt blocks and I haven't acknowledged you, please remind me. I am the queen of the scatterbrains.

Some quick links. Jessica just finished an adorable little wonky house quilt with a wind-up bird. Plus you can learn the dangers of having extra fabric while you're machine quilting.

Cheri is in the zone making free-pieced letters. Instead of having to double-check the procedures, she's got it all internalized. See, this does get easier. Look what a great job she's doing on her fun Stroop quilt.

Eileen Paulin is the founder of Red Lips 4 Courage which published the Collaborative Quilting book by Freddy Moran and Gwen Marston. (or should I say Eileen got Sterling/Chapelle to publish it - I'm not quite sure how that works.) Go check out her blog post about Freddy, Gwen, and Collaboritive Quilting and read about their new book. Even better, leave Eileen a comment and tell her thank you, thank you, thank you for publishing these two wonderful quilters.

It is entirely possible that there was something else I meant to write about here, but can't remember it at all. Just bear with me for the next six weeks or so. I'm going to have guests, touristing to do and a quick trip to Florida is in the works.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Grand Palais

Two days ago I took detail shots of the Grand Palais (and woohoo, there weren't big blurry fingerprints on all of them) but I realized today that I've never posted my pics of the whole thing. So to start off with, these are my photos from 30 Sept 2007.

The Grand Palais was built in the late 1800's as an exhibition hall. The big Courbet painting detail advertises a showing of the artist's work.

I'll show you detailed photos of the building on another day, instead, here are some street scenes taken on 15 Mar 2008. Unfortunately I didn't have beautiful blue skies so most of my photos got tossed. A couple came to the Pont Alexander III for their wedding photos.

I absolutely laughed when the Japanese tourists asked to pose with them and the one woman put her fingers in a peace sign (you can barely see it in the hand behind the bride). Do you remember Tanya's post about that particular habit?

Uh oh, look out for the hordes of tourists on their bicycles. That's the golden Dome Church at the Hotel of the Invalides that you can see straight on.

More tourists.

Look, budding trees along the Seine. Spring can't be too far off.

I can't believe how many photos I've never posted. I guess when you take 140 photos at a shot it's a bit hard to cram them all in.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Gwen Marston's Books

I wanted to see what my bed quilt was going to look like so I threw it on the bed even though I still haven't gotten the binding on it ("it" the quilt, not "it" the bed). I am really happy with it. Pokey and Lily had fun running around and even though I made this quilt to use, knowing cats were going to sleep on it etc, I worried those little claws would snag the fabric or quilting thread. eek.

No, I still haven't posted a full picture of the bed quilt. You can see several pics here amidst the alphabet tutorial over on Quiltville. The quilt on the wall is Stars.

I received an email today asking about Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking, which as you know is my favorite quilting book ever. Ever. Since I get similar emails every once in awhile, I figured I would answer here. Last year it looked like Liberated Quiltmaking was going to be republished by a small company, but it didn't happen. Unfortunately. So the only way to get the book right now is to pay an outrageous price for a used copy. I love the book, but $100???

Liberated Quiltmaking teaches you how to improvisationally piece great looking cotton crazies (aka crumb or utility quilts), houses, stars and free-piece anything you set your mind to. Gwen shows you how to reinterpret classic patterns such as Shoo-Fly, Log Cabin, Nine Patch. But you don't just learn how to make these blocks because she teaches the process, the technique that you can then adapt to making anything. It was this new way of thinking that led me to try making letters and you can see where that has led.

The book completely changed how I approach quilting, making it so much more enjoyable and allowing me to find my own way of working. No more Quilt Police. The other great thing about the book is that Gwen shows how this used to be an accepted way of quilting and can easily be seen in many antique quilts.

Collaborative Quilting, which Gwen wrote with Freddy Marston, is another fun book and in many ways a sequel to Liberated Quiltmaking. There are differences though. The colors are much brighter and in your face. LQ has a more traditional look and teaches in baby steps. In CQ you have to work harder at understanding how it goes together.

Gwen's Liberated String Quilts is a marvelous book as well but truly focuses on string quilts. There is a bit more than that (fractured fabric) but not much. I love the book, but it's stringy, not improvisational.

String Quilts is also written in a completely different style than LQ. String Quilts is patterny. In Liberated Quiltmaking, Gwen just talks her way through making her quilts. She explains how she did it, but doesn't provide any kind of pattern or yardage requirements. She tells you how to get started on your own and explore. That just really speaks to me.

Another fan of Gwen Marston's style is Dianne of Persnickity. She's shown a couple of her liberated quilts recently in her blog. She's also spoken movingly about being a quilter with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) as have Siobhan of Scraps and Threadtales and Karen Dianne Lee at Living Life at LeeHaven. I urge you to check their blogs out, particularly their entries for MS Awareness Week (March 10-17th).

Mary in MN asked if I was charging for teaching the Summer Class. The answer is no. For my first ever online class I asked for donations to the MS Society and was thrilled that we contributed almost a thousand dollars. But I admit that having people pay made me worry the whole time if the students were getting enough for their money. Were there enough quilts finished? Did I provide enough encouragement or arm twisting?

Anyway, not paying works well for me. I do this for love and interaction with other like-minded quilters. The Summer Class is off to a great start. Brenda and Juliann have already made some great progress. Check out the blog here.

A wonderful friend sent me some more Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episodes. I had a mini marathon last night and watched three of them. I LOVE that show. I'm not saying it's perfect or anything else, but I love it. Fox, you'd better renew this show.

But holy cow, can I just say the commercials suck? The show is so choppy shown this way. Five minutes of the program, three minutes of advertising alternated over and over. yeesh. The reason so many people watch pay cable tv shows isn't because those shows can use swearing and nudity it's because the flow of the show is so superior.

If only Showtime would return to making science fiction programming, or even better if HBO would start. Where's our pay cable SF/Fantasy channel that would make better programming decisions than Sci-Fi.

Yesterday I took a photo safari down to the Grand Palais. I took lots of photos but I haven't actually downloaded them yet. I know I got a fingerprint on the lens and I'm not sure how well I cleaned it off. I'm afraid to look.

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

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Blue Sky

Blue skies outside today, so I'm going out to play. I did want to check in though and let you know that I had a fun visit with Clare. I snuck a pic of her at Pere Lachais Cemetery:

We started our visit there with a blue sky, but it got really gray and eventually we were thrown out of the cemetery because the winds were too high. I suspect they were worried about tourists getting hit by falling masonry.

Clare just sent me the link for this man, André Gill, a french characturist from the 1800's so I'm including his photo in this post too. Well, not a photo of him, but of his jaunty memorial. Doesn't he look great?

I spent Thursday afternoon and all day yesterday laying about in the recliner with Lily and Pokey since they were needy (okay, so was I) and it was horrible outside.

It probably didn't help my mood that I was watching The Wire Season 4. I love the show, it's so stunningly acted and written with the most complex characters and story arcs. But boy, it really is a hard subject, the life of drug dealers and cops on Baltimore streets. If it were a movie I'd avoid going. But it really is worth it. Definitely a show that you have to start watching from the very beginning or it will make no sense. I highly recommend it, 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Boys

Dordogne Quilter Clare arrived safely yesterday for her visit. I've already tortured her with a few of my quilts and of course we talked quilts quilts quilts. She went her off to bed last night with Gwen Marston. I love how that sounds. Clare's finally getting a chance to read Liberated Quiltmaking, woohoo.

Yesterday was horribly rainy, although I admit not as bad as over in the U.K. Not sure if the weather is going to cooperate with us today, but oh boy there is sun peeking out at the moment. Maybe we should try for touristing today instead of tomorrow...

The cats were of course skittish at having company, but unbelievably it was the biggest fraidy cat of all, Howler, who adapted the quickest and best. Another pic of the boys. I didn't think yesterday to tell you about them.

These guys are brothers, we got them in Cairo. The orange guy is Habibi, which means "buddy, friend, dear" in arabic. He really is a big sweetie pie. He grooms everyone in the house including the humans. And Howler is the black cat. He got his name because he is loud. When panicked he starts blubbering and wailing and just won't stop for ages. He also yells for affection.

All the local shops are out of milk - I hate it when that happens. I did prepare for this eventuality (since it happens far more often than it should) and bought some Green Tea with Mint since I have to have milk in my English Breakfast Tea. The green tea is actually very yummy. Well, with mint, not sure how I'd like it plain.

A few links before I go. Did you see Bonnie's post about the Crumb Class? Looks like they had so much fun. And look at that fabulous top Bonnie came up with - I'm jealous it's so fabulous.

By the way, did you know Bonnie is teaching the free-pieced letters (or at least a few of them) as part of her Crumb Class? She is. So if you've wanted to learn the letters as well as all sorts of marvelous other blocks, get Bonnie to come teach for you.

Brenda at Scraps and Strings has got several fun projects in progress right now, but I have to say I think my favorite is her wordy project. She recently sent me some letters as well, but rather than posting a picture, why don't you scroll through her archive and see the one she posted.

Lynda at Master of Patience just made a top using her orphans that is wonderful. She threw some free-pieced houses in amongst the one patches and pinwheels and it really sings.

Anyway, not sure when I'll post again. Ya'll take care.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I'm Still Here

It feels like ages since I've posted. I have been busy on the computer though - I've got the Summer Class blog up and running and there are all sorts of great ideas percolating over there.

I've been moving at half speed - just not much zing in me. I did get all the arms of my lone star together. And sized up. Can I just say - eeeeeek. More on that another day.

Even though the weather is still supposed to be dreary tomorrow, I've got something to look forward to. A visit from a quilter. Hmm, who can it be? I know she's posted some hints on her blog about a train trip.

Finally, a kitty picture that doesn't have a quilt and isn't Pokey. Instead it's the boys being sweet. They often sleep in this old recliner together, though not necessarily in each other's arms.

Kinda embarassing how ratty this chair is - my husband will be mortified to know I posted a pic of it on the web. Oh well. It's the boys' chair now.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Well, At Least I Got Something Done

I did great yesterday and pieced five of the Lone Star arms. Woohoo. Baby Pokey goes for a test drive:

I tried to interfere as little as possible and just put these together randomly. I admit I did pay attention to what colors were at the ends of the diamonds, but that was it. Now I'm looking at the big blue blobby bits (right above Pokey's head). sigh. Gonna leave 'em.

Yesterday I had sunshine and confidence. Today, not so much of either. These star arms are easily a half inch off of each other. That's not going to matter because I'm not doing Y-seams - I'm splitting the background up into triangles. I'll explain more about that as I go along.

Annette, I'm using newsprint which comes in a pad. I find it's easy to pull off, yet isn't as flimsy as phonebook pages - but having said that I don't mind ripping standard paper off either. In the old days quilters did use newspapers and you can do that, but you have to age it for 3 weeks first so that the ink cures and doesn't smear off onto your fabric. I used a ruler and rotary cutter and cut the diamonds the size I wanted them and then sewed the strings down to them, like Bonnie did for her Out on a String quilt.

I got the Summer Class of 2008 blog started (even though I was convinced it was still 2007 the whole time I was working on it). Nothing really exciting there yet, but come on over and jump in the pool - the water's great!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Coming Together

Wow, what a great day today. I have loads of sushine and I'm really happy with how my String Lone Star is coming together. It's still wonky, I'm still off by a quarter inch here or there and I don't care. It's all going to work. What a difference sunshine makes.

Okay, the next class is going to be about repetition. You can free-piece any kind of block(s) you'd like to - including letters/words but not limited to those. For those who like prompts I'll give you direction. I'll work on the class blog on some other day when it's not this glorious. I have to go sew now!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Tsushin Blocks

Here's another peek at my quilting on Orphan Train. These two blocks, made in approximately 1995, were samples for a quilt I was making based on one in Patchwork Tsushin magazine. I had fallen hard for it, and sketched out the block - I wish I'd been smart enough to make notes about the values in the blocks, but I didn't. My plan was to make the quilt very scrappy, but I didn't like the way the blocks looked at all.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, these were hand-pieced. I used to do quite a bit of that. Anyway, after making these blocks I decided I wanted more continuity between the blocks so these became orphans. You can see a picture of the finished Tsushin quilt way back in my very first blog post. And while you are back in the archives you can read why I called this blog Lazy Gal Quilting.

This reminds me I need to beg my parents to take a really good picture of the Tsushin quilt for me. When I get a great pic I'll post it, but it didn't seem worthwhile to repost that bitty picture.

Check out the vintage blocks that KathieB scored. They are such a cool pattern that I've never seen before - anyone got an idea of what it is? And those of you who are into recycling fabric from clothing should appreciate these as well.

I just haven't been getting much done. Haven't been near the sewing machine in days, although I have gotten a bit more hand quilting done. Maybe more than a bit, it just doesn't feel like much.

Heidi suggested I run another little "class" like the Winter Class. I'm happy to do it (I've already started constructing the class blog), but I'd like some guidance from ya'all. If you're interested in participating, do you want to just do your own thing, or would you want me to give you guidance? Do you want to have another theme or anything goes? I've got an idea for a repetitive letters quilt if you want to try that. Feedback please! You can send email or comment.