Monday, June 30, 2008

Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

First off I'm going to completely geek out over Joss Whedon's latest project and after that I'll get to quilty action. You do know of Joss Whedon right? Creator of my beloved Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

Have you heard of Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog? I just found out this morning. Check out the trailer:

Teaser from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo.

Joss Whedon was busy during the writers' strike. In his words:

"...I finally decided to do something very ambitious, very exciting, very mid-life-crisisy. Aided only by everyone I had worked with, was related to or had ever met, I single-handedly created this unique little epic. A supervillain musical, of which, as we all know, there are far too few. The idea was to make it on the fly, on the cheap – but to make it. To turn out a really thrilling, professionalish piece of entertainment specifically for the internet. To show how much could be done with very little. To show the world there is another way. To give the public (and in particular you guys) something for all your support and patience. And to make a lot of silly jokes. Actually, that sentence probably should have come first."

Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is going to be available on the internet in three parts, beginning on the 15th of July. It stars Doogie Howser (Neil Patrick Harris) and beloved Serenity Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) - wheeeeee. I love how wonderfully goofy the musical episode of Buffy is - I'm hoping this is also grandiose, silly and marvelous. Not to mention highly entertaining.

There is already a great fansite for the show, which has no publicity budget. They are completely relying on the fans and word of mouth to get the news of the show around. If you're a fan of Joss, spread the word.

I love to see someone so incredibly talented take matters into his own hands. No chance of studio interference or premature cancellation (I still mourn Firefly). I rather hope Gwen Marston does something similar if she can't find the right publisher for a book she wants to do. or reprint. Speaking of reprints, this is your last day to vote for publication of Liberated Quiltmaking. So to speak. See this post for more info.

Speaking of Gwen Marston, holy cow, she and Freddy Moran are selling the quilts from Collaborative Quilting, including some of their individual pieces. For more information see Gwen's website.

I don't know if ya'all saw Lucy's comment in my last post about the Westfallenstoffe fabric. The German company bought out a Dutch fabric company, so that seems to resolve the question of are those fabrics Dutch or German. They're sort of both.

I got some quilts and links for you.

Let's start with Brenda's wonderful Life is a Field Trip. very very fun.

Woolywoman has really been making some fun projects lately, but in particular check out her houses.

Scraphappy finished a fun sea urchins quilt.

Sassenach at Force Majeure Farm gave directions on mounting a vintage quilt top so that it's strong enough to display (even though it's not strong enough to quilt) - check out here and the follow-up here.

Maureen (aka Moe) is a blast. She's got loads of pics posted from her classes with Gwen Marston - take a look in her June archive. I convinced her to try making free-pieced letters for the quilts she made in Gwen's classes and now she can't stop! Woohoo. Pics will sooon appear in her blog, I'm sure. This is what she had to say:

"You know when I saw your letters last year, I thought it was so cool but I never thought I'd be able to do it, I thought it was too complicated, too much measuring, etc. I'm so happy you've shown me the way! This is totally addicting. Looking forward to much more lettering in my future."

See, the letters might look intimidating, but they really aren't. You just have to practise to get them to look exactly like you want them to. For instance, if you took a drawing class you wouldn't expect to do lifelike portraits right off the bat. You'd have to work at it. Not that letters are nearly that hard. More like stick figure people and the tutorials just teach you how to sharpen your crayon..."

My computer connection is soooo slow at the moment, I'm going to bail out now. I actually machine attached two bindings this morning on small patriotic quilts that have been sitting around since last August. I just need to hand stitch the bindings down and I'll have them ready to display. woohoo.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fabric and Fans

Whee, look at the gorgeous fabric that arrived in the mail. My favorite is the stripe on the right, but they're all wonderful.

Kristin LaFlamme read my post about how much I love Westfallenstoffe fabric and she sent me these. So sweet of her, especially while she's busy with her move from Germany to Hawaii - talk about a change.

I'm making great progress on Orphan Train quilting. I started my freehand fans at the lower right and upper left corners and worked my way in (the third pattern shown, diagonal fans, in my tutorial). The fans have finally met up in the middle of the quilt:

This is the back, so you can see it even better:

I'm using Mettler 100% quilting thread and it's making me NUTS. I keep getting little loops and knots. I don't know if it's just this spool, but think I'm going back to Gutterman.

Commenters asked what size my Plaid One Patch with Strings turned out. I started with 4" blocks of fabric. Sort of. I left some of them rectangular and longer than that, so that I had more opportunity to mismatch seams and make it deliberately "off." The top ended up 34" by 34.5" which is really close considering there is a whole extra row of half blocks.

We're nearing the deadline of the campaign to get Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking reprinted. This is the post that explains it all. And have you told everyone you thought might be interested? Keep spreading the word, the more "votes" the better.

One thing that has really struck me is how many folks are still using just their first name as their identifier on blogs. Please, I beg you, add something more. A placename, your blog title, something completely unexpected. Mocha MonsterPants you have the distinction of being the most unusual blogger name yet - it's unforgettable.

Thanks for the encouraging comments on the last post. It's been great to hear from you. I spent yesterday frustrated out of my mind trying to find a simple drawing program that wasn't too simple. Finally found it in a completely unexpected spot: Microsoft Word. So that's what I've been working on, writing instructions.

Sweetie and I finally got a chance to see Burn Notice. Woohoo, I loved it. Three different people told me they thought I'd like it and boy were they right. I told my husband he had to just go with it, just like you do watching Alias, which is completely unbelieveable but a lot of fun.

Burn Notice is about a spy who gets fired (burned) and ends up "stuck" in Miami with no money. There's some Alias, A-Team, McGuyver in there as he helps people with his spy skills AND tries to figure out who got him burned. Great casting all the way around, I just wish the fantastic Bruce Campbell was in it more.

I need to get some work done before I go out to play this afternoon. Ya'all take care and I leave you with this photo of little
Pokey on the fabric I "stole" from Siobhan :

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lazy Days in Quiltville - the Proposal

I'm finally ready to tell you about the book I'm working on. It's going to be about letters, strings, crumbs and orphans. The title is Lazy Days in Quiltville. I bet you can guess who my co-author is.

Yup, Bonnie and I are doing this book together. I'm really excited about it, although so far it hasn't gone beyond putting a rough outline together. This is the fun part, before the drudgery of the actual writing kicks in and before compromises have to be made with what the publisher wants. (Assuming we get one - but we're a long way off from worrying about that yet.)

Poor Bonnie has been working herself to the bone to get her own book complete (Scraps and Shirttails, due out in September from Kansas City Star Quilts - check out their homepage here) and I've been pestering her about this other one.

So letters are going to be in the book, with an emphasis on the basics. Nothing fancy, just learning how to make them and practising with them. Oh and using words in the border. Plus, Crumbs, Strings, orphans, Lazy 9-Patches, Maverick Stars and Hearts. Not to forget the freehand fans quilting.

So there won't be any free-piecing or houses. Just an emphasis on playing, casual piecing (mismatched seams on purpose!) and making personalized quilts. The strings are going to be basic as well - rows or squares. The string stars will be in the theoretical next book.

I'm really hoping that ya'all will get involved in making quilts for the book. If you're interested, please send me an email and I'll give you some guidelines and throw out ideas. Do be warned though that financial considerations will probably mean using quilts with U.S. (including APO and FPO) or maybe Canadian addresses in the book. Practicality sucks.

By the way, those L-O-V-E letters I showed you at the top of the blog? That's a project I'm working on with Bonnie. I actually thought of it more than a year ago and Bonnie sent me some additional solids to help round out the Amish color scheme but I've been sooo slow to finish. I made us duplicate blocks so that we can each make a quilt. Will be interesting to see what we each come up with.

I didn't just make duplicate blocks for the two of us. No, I sewed more and it made me nuts. I have three more sets to offer to anyone who wants to play with Bonnie and I. The goal is to use the set of blocks however you chose to. You can add more letters as well as strings, crumbs, stars, and hearts.

You can add other blocks or applique so long as they are your own design or in the public domain. Or from Quiltville - I'm sure Bonnie will give you copyright approval. Do think mismatched and casual though - nothing fancy.

These quilts might just go in the book. And no they don't have to be big quilts. The top has to be finished by the end of the year - no showing it on your blog (if you have one) - it has be kept a secret until we've all finished our tops.

If you're interested, send me an email: tartbr47 at hotmail dot com. I'm completely open to bribery and extra credit will go to those who will hand quilt it cuz I'm a sucker for that. If you have an idea of how you might use the blocks, tell me - I'd love to hear. The "drawing" (I warn you now it may just be rigged and completely unfair) will be held on the 4th of July - a nice, easy to remember date.

Part of me is tempted to show you examples of how L-O-V-E blocks have already been used, but I don't want to influence anyone's choice.

If you're interested in playing along, albeit with blocks you've constructed yourself, then hop on in. Four sets of L-O-V-E blocks. Use solid fabrics if you want to (I excluded yellow, white, bright orange and lime green) or go a different route.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Plaid One Patch with Strings - Top

I finished my Plaid One Patch with Strings quilt top. But instead of looking like this:

It looks like this (the colors are better in this photo as well):

I was unhappy with how the bottom of the quilt looked. Too boring. And that THinK hadn't worked out all that well and drew too much attention away from the strings. So I lopped off the bottom 2 1/3 rows. I was thinking of adding part of it back on, but nah. The focus should be on the fabrics. This is going to get big stitch freehand fans to give it that utility elbow quilting look.

I got caught up in using every bit of fabric instead of concentrating on a quilt that really worked. Hopefully I remedied that. Working with all those stretchy fabrics wasn't so bad - I added an extra bit of fabric in one spot where I needed it, but otherwise I worked on the "whack any extra off" plan. I also staystitched around the outer edges of the top so they don't pull out of shape.

Sweet Habibi making himself at home on the blocks in progress:

A pillow for naptime:

Sweetie and I are now watching Season 5 of Monk. I do wish they'd focus more on the mysteries and less on getting Monk into situations designed to make his OCD freak out, but the show is enjoyable all the same. And Stanley Tucci (Secondo to Tony Shaloub's Primo and if you don't know what I'm talking about I highly recommend you rent this movie)? Sheer heaven.

We're also rewatching The Closer - this will be my third time through the first season. I love this show. We're getting ready for season 3 which can't be here soon enough. It is fun to watch Brenda do all the jobs herself and then watch CSI where the criminalists do every job at the police department as well as arson investigation, etc.

We finished Medium - whichever season that just came out on DVD. I shouldn't say "we" since my sweetie doesn't so much watch it as endure it in the background while he reads. The show's okay. I like the actors but don't really find any of it compelling.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Think in Plaid

I'm really happy how my One Patch with Strings is coming along. I've got all my blocks made up now, which is pretty easy since so many of them were one patches. There are a few more blocks than this and I think I'm going to just keep piecing until I run out of the fabric.

I added some letters: THinK. They're hard to read - I didn't intend that, I just started piecing without paying attention. So some letters are dark, some are light. That's okay, I know what it says. I didn't like my first i so it got thrown in with the rest of the blocks.

I stopped piecing yesterday because Pokey commandeered my box of strips. She scampered as soon as I put the ironing board up - all my cats hate that noise with a passion.

She moved to a patch of sunlight on my cutting table and just zonked out. She didn't flinch as I cut blocks and made noise right beside her.

This morning I had Breakfast in America. I just love saying that. I had blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup - mmmmm - while visiting with fellow American expats, one of whom is a quilter.

I got a wonderful email from Moe who attended a lecture by Gwen Marston last night. Lucky girl. Plus she's taking two classes - woohoo. Lucky, lucky girl. I'm hoping Moe will post pics in her blog for us.

Indigo Threads Sharon found a great interview with Gwen Marston done in 2007 for Save Our Stories. Excellent reading.

Speaking of Gwen Marston, we are now up to 200 copies of Liberated Quiltmaking requested through comments and email. That's in just one week. Thank you all so very much for participating and spreading the word. Mary Jo had a great suggestion which was for folks to go in to their local quilt shops and ask them to contact AQS and let them know that the store would order copies.

If you haven't already done so and want to put your name down on the list of quilters asking for a reprint of Liberated Quiltmaking, you can do that in my post here. I'm figuring that even if AQS won't reprint the book, maybe Gwen will do so. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The No-Quilt-Police Quilt Show

I've been giving lots of thinking to the kind of Quilt Show I'd love to go to. Again I just got magazines with the award winners at some major shows and I'm just left feeling hohumm. hmm. okay. Sure some are technically gorgeous, but just don't do it for me.

This quilt (a Depression-era String Quilt from the Virginia Quilt Museum) is a perfect example. I figure these blocks are about 3" - none of them are very square.

Of course I'd want to see newly made quilts, not just antiques.
Nothing made from patterns, kits, blocks of the month. Fabric choices made by the quilter, gosh darn it. Applique that someone has drawn the pattern for themselves or just cut freely from the fabric. Hand marked quilting - no stencils.
The usual judging rules would be banned from my dream show. I want quilts with heart, soul, imperfection, joy... Not what you get in the big, tense overly stressful quilts that seem to be prized today.
My awards would be:
  • Quilt we'd want to sleep under when we're sick.
  • Quilt we'd most want to wake up to every morning.
  • Quilt that will still be as fresh and wonderful in 100 years as it is now.
  • Quilt that makes us smile
  • Quilt that makes us want to dance
  • Judges' Favorite: Joyful
  • Judges' Favorite: Color
  • Judges' Favorite: Exuberance
  • Judges' Favorite in hand quilting etc
you get the idea. what other fun awards can you come up with?
If your guild is putting on a show, see if you can add some awards like these. Everything shouldn't always be Best Best Best.
It makes me sad that the Gee's Bend quilts are so invigorating and have done so well in the art world and yet seem to have made no impact on the Quilt World, not in the shows and not in the how-to books. Beautiful art books for sure, but that seems to be it.
In Tonya news, I went out for my first long walk since my knee acted up. It all went fine and I don't seem to have messed my knee up. Woohoo. But I didn't do any sewing afterwords, figured it best to stay off the knee and just hand quilt instead. Getting closer and closer to done.
Bonnie did an interesting post about machine quilting after attending a show. And have ya'all seen the beautiful string quilt Holly just pieced together?
argh, hate it when Blogger refuses to space properly. sorry this post is all jumbled together.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One Patch with Strings

Today I broke out a roll of Worn and Washed Fabric and started to play. First, let me show you my inspiration. This is another of Nancy Ray's wonderful quilts that's featured in Gwen Marston's Liberated String Quilts. [hint hint: another great book now out of print - get it while you can.] This quilt is a combination of One Patch and string blocks. I'm guessing these are 4" finished. Here are my squares. I threw in 3 squares from fabric that Siobhan gave me, otherwise this is the Worn and Washed jelly roll, minus one fabric that just seemed too flimsy and one that had holes in it. Not worn out kinds of holes, it was deliberately holey fabric. That could be fun to use in a Jude kind of quilt, but not this.

So these are my squares randomly laid out. I really like them. These are 4" right now.

I really like the combination of colors and fabrics, some of which I wouldn't have otherwise bought in a million years. I've started piecing some bits together and making a few string blocks. I threw in some solids to make the fabric last longer. The solids seem too dark to me, but I guess this is all part of the experience of making a string quilt. Making do with what you have. The flannels are making sure I'm imprecise.

Lily in the way, glaring at me because I disturbed her nap.

It's been great getting all the comments and emails for the fingers-crossed reprint of Gwen's book. Keep 'em coming. Have you told all your friends yet?

By the way, I'm not responding to the emails, so no worries if you haven't heard back from me. I am getting them though, your vote is being counted.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Jumbo Margarita - Top

Woohoo, I got a top finished. This is Jumbo Margarita - not to be confused with the Margarita Quilt which is still in progress - I haven't decided yet on blue or orange for the border.

What do you guys think of this? I'm thinking it doesn't need another border, but could be wrong. Sometimes it's hard to get the appropriate distance on your own quilts. Are the proportions good? I could add another row of the big blocks all the way round. Or make a single row of Godzilla blocks all the way.

Jumbo Margarita has a center of 10 x 10 3" Lazy 9-Patch blocks surrounded by a double row of 6" blocks. Theoretically the 6" blocks should have been exactly twice the size of the 3" blocks. That's how math is supposed to work. Not the way I piece.

I added an extra row of squares to the side and bottom of the center to make it larger and amazingly enough that worked exactly.

After I got two of the big borders added on I realized that I'd sewn several of the blocks/rows incorrectly. You know how usually you alternate the blocks: one with four dark corners followed by one with four light corners? eh, didn't work. Well, here and there, but not consistently. Good thing I love this style of quilt. If I still bought into the whole precision thing I'd be crying.

No seam ripping for me! When a quilt is this wonky, you can't tell when something is sewed "wrong."

Cats had fun while I was laying down blocks yesterday. Pokey was squirming all over making it difficult to get her in focus.

Brothers Howler and Habibi.

Howler pretty much destroyed the arrangement tearing around on the blocks. He doesn't have the block surfing ability of Siobhan's cat Brownie, who can make the blocks slide for a foot or so. I mean, really gets them moving. Siobhan was having one heck of a time trying to get her quilt together while Brownie was playing. And I was no help whatsover - it was a great show.

My bad knee is still iffy. I know it's feeling better though because I keep forgetting about it and doing stupid things like bending it. I'm going to take it easy now after all the sewing of the last two days and go back to hand quilting.

I have to admit to a couple of guilty pleasures. I've been netflixing Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen Season 1. He's such an incredible jerk, but entertaining nonetheless. My favorite contestant got the boot from the final four but I'm looking forward to seeing who won.

Okay, the other guilty pleasure is South Park. yes, you read that right. My cable company has been airing it with an english language option (woohoo) and it comes on right before The Daily Show (which amazingly enough is just subtitled) so I've sorta gotten sucked in. I've actually been enjoying it - cringing with embarassment.

Meanwhile I've heard about how season 3 of Bones ended. My favorite character turns out to be a serial killer? That is wrong on so many levels. I wasn't all that happy with season 2 of the show, and didn't care for the direction it went. Well, Bones just went right over the cliff. I'm not watching any of season 3 and now I don't even know how much I want to watch the earlier episodes either.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Liberated Compared to Collaborative

I learned to make houses from Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking. I kept playing with her techniques, playing without patterns and loved every moment of it. I think Home Sweet Home was the fourth quilt I made with the houses. Could be wrong though - I've certainly made several of them. Sweet Pokey helps to model the quilt:

I emailed AQS back in March to ask if there was any possibility of them reprinting LQ. (As I've said monotonously, it's my favorite book and I'm crazed that it's not in print.) I was already thinking about some kind of mail campaign asking for it. But would it do any good? A great fellow-Gwen fan at AQS said I wasn't the first person to inquire about this, so she'd look into it. Groovy.

My next step was to write to Gwen to make sure that she didn't already have plans in place to reprint the book. Nope, she didn't. So completely of my own accord (no instigation from Gwen) I wrote a blog post in which I suggested that everyone contact AQS and beg for the book. But right before hitting the publish button I had second thoughts. What if only 10 people write to them, that would be rather embarassing. What if so many people do that AQS got irate and refused to have anything to do with the book - that would be counterproductive as well.

So I emailed AQS to show them my potential blog post. What did they think? Would that help? The very next day I got the email from Andi that I excerpted in yesterday's post. And here we are.

Your response so far has been incredible. In 24 hours we've already got 76 copies "ordered." I think that's excellent for such a short time period and the circumstances.

One quilter asked:

"I have Collaborative Quilting that Gwen wrote with Freddy Moran. One chapter deals with liberated parts...baskets, churn dash, houses, log cabins, shoe fly, stars, trees, spiky borders, and string borders and blocks. Would Liberated Quilting just be an expansion of those topics or would it cover more blocks in more detail?"

I'll do my best to answer this, but hopefully some of ya'all can help answer this too.

CQ shows you how to make the blocks, LQ tells you. It's not that CQ has patterns but it shows you "put the blocks together like this." In Liberated Quiltmaking, Gwen explains every step of the process. What she was thinking when she came up with the idea for making a particular block, how she made the blocks and arranged them. By sharing the steps, she helps you to understand WHY the blocks went together the way they did so that you can take these ideas and apply them to other blocks.

Liberated Quiltmaking is more restrained in color than CQ, which I think makes it easier for traditional quilters to dip their toes in. CQ is definitely more in your face, high speed and zingy. LQ is sitting around the quilt frame while a beloved friend talks to you and encourages you to play. It's written in a completely different style.

I don't have LQ here with me since I loaned it to my friend Will. (See, I need another copy!) What does LQ have that CQ doesn't? Three different methods for making those fabulous stars, free-piecing pictures, 9-patches, recutting blocks, recutting sashing, those wonderful floating squares.... It also has more details on how to make the houses.

CQ is dessert, LQ is the whole meal. Does that make sense? Personally, I recommend getting both books.

When I read this next email I totally had to share it with you. Amy K gave me her permission:

"Tonya--You know what? I was on vacation with my family last week and JUST HAPPENED to find a fantastic sewing/quilting shop nearby--hahahaha! They had a giant collection of quilting books, and guess what was on the shelf, brand new, for the cover price of $24.95? *Liberated Quiltmaking*, of course. My heart pounded. I furtively looked both ways. I slipped it under my butt and sat on it while I continued to look at the books so nobody else would see it. Finally I took it to the cash register feeling like a thief in the night, paid the absurdly low price, and tap-danced my way to my car.

I have already made my very first tiny but "liberated" quilt top. I felt like an absolute idiot at first, thinking: This is the stupidest and most hideous creation in the world. I even laughed at it about ten minutes into the process. But you, and GM, are right--it took on an amazing life of its own, decisions became very easy as it grew, and, well, I'm pretty happy with this first attempt.

Anyway, enough gushing! I WOULD buy a copy if I didn't already have one. This is a life-changing book, and it seems insane that it's out of print."

Tonya again - I just can't convince Blogger to stop the indentation. Have we convinced you? Go to yesterday's post to "order" a copy. It will be so much easier to keep track if everyone sticks to that one post.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Liberated Quiltmaking Reprint

I have been emailing American Quilters' Society about a reprint of Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking, which as far as I'm concerned is the best quilting book ever.

Today I got an email from Andi Reynolds, the Executive Book Editor. She says:

"Here’s what would help: AQS would like to know how many people would commit to pre-ordering an exact reprint priced at $36 or so. If you would capture this information among Gwen’s fans, say in the next couple of weeks or however long it takes you to ask around, and pass it along to me, we’ll take a look at the idea."

Who will buy a reprint of Liberated Quiltmaking? Leave a comment on my blog or send me an email ( tartbr47 at ).

Comment OR email. Don't do both - that would confuse me. If you'd buy copies for friends, say that, but please don't exagerate. Deadline is the end of June.

Okay you guys, we are Gwen's fans. Time to spring into action. Please pass the word along to everyone else you know who loves Gwen's work. Put a note in your blog if you have one, talk to your friends, and send emails to fellow Gwen fans. If you participate in a group email list or chatroom and it would be appropriate, please post something.

Ready, set, go!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gwen Marston Rocks

Did ya'all hear me yelling and jumping up and down yesterday? I got a letter from Gwen Marston!!! Woohoo doesn't even begin to describe it. She included two postcards featuring some of her recent work in solid fabrics. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.

If I understand Gwen's letter correctly she's working on a little book featuring her quilts made in solids and it will be available on her webpage in August. I will definitely keep checking on that and I'll let you know when I learn more. The next Collaborative Quilting book with Freddy Moran won't be out until July 2009. Wish it were sooner, but happy all the same.

I wrote to Gwen last month to tell her about the book I'm writing (with a partner - you'll hear more about that one of these days) on the letters etc. I wanted to make sure she was okay with it since it's going to be full of techniques that I learned from her. I promised we'd give her lots of credit and were certainly going to use our own words, illustrations and quilts.

Well what a wonderful, sweet, positive letter I got in return. She's okay with the book and is happy to have people teaching and writing Liberated techniques so long as we say where we got the inspiration. Well I definitely got all mine from Gwen - I hope I've made that clear over the years.

I couldn't sleep last night I was so excited. I called Bonnie and read the letter to her - I just had to share with someone who could manage more than a "that's nice, honey." I am thrilled. I was so nervous to write to Gwen, but turned out I didn't need to be. What a sweetie. My husband wants to know if I'm going to frame the letter. You know what, I just might!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Skulls in the Mail

Ooh, I got skulls in the mail yesterday. That's compared to the head that I mailed a couple of weeks ago. hee hee hee.

Look at what Jovaliquilts' Cheri sent me:

Aren't they a hoot? Love them. And just so you can see them lifesize, here they are on a shelf along with Robot Lilliput and a beautiful mug that Siobhan got me on her Polish pottery expedition.

Cheri also sent this fun Tibetan hand quilted pillowcover:

Meanwhile, Pokey checks out the quilting job on Orphan Train:

I'm feeling much happier with the world today. Knee is definitely improving - slowly - but improving nonetheless.

Monday, June 09, 2008


I love the storefront of this old shop, E. Goyard, established in 1853. You could buy your steamer trunks and baskets here - definitely a bygone era.

They also have Motor Car Specialities, whatever that means.

They carefully packed dresses.

I have no idea what Goyard is now - didn't get close enough to look. I don't want to spoil the illusion - would love to think there are still ladies in there getting ready for their steamship travel around the world. The store is located on Rue St Honore:

A nearby building is scaffolded, but no big chocolate bar here.

I have to admit to being really cranky. A couple of mornings ago I woke up to discover that my left knee had blown up - it was all swollen and painful. I have a rare form of arthritis (P.V.N.S.) in which bits of my knee lining thicken. Some of it was sucked out arthoscopically back in October 2005 but they warned me then I'd need real knee surgery one day. So it's not even so much the pain that bothers me, but the fear that the swelling won't go down and I don't know what I'll do next. Sigh. I'm trying to stay off it and hope the anti-inflammatory will do its job.

To add to my crankiness, my internet connection is sooooo slow this morning. Torture.

Want to see some beautiful fabric? Andrea sent me a link for Westfalenstoffe, a German company that makes the gorgeous plaids. I could really go crazy for some of their fabric. Look at the red, white, and blues; the blues and greens; and the orange and red. yummy. The fabric is pricey though, so I suspect I'll just have to get it if I stumble across it at a quilt show so its a special purchase.

I've been working on Orphan Train. I think I'm about 3/4 of the way through with the hand quilting. Woohoo. I discovered I can still work on it by putting a chair in front of the sofa and raising my leg up on it - then just have to avoid getting that heavy quilt on it.

I'm sure I'll be doing better the next time I post. Just need a bit of whining every once in awhile...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

German Fabric

My friend Will collects gorgeous antique fabric and textiles, some of which she puts into her quilts and others into everyday use. She has a pair of pillowcases that I was ready to take a seam ripper to - put something else on the back of the pillowcase and you'd end up with a beautiful pillow (just don't turn it over!) AND wonderful fabric.

When I first saw Will's collection of antique German plaids I swooned. I love the differences in scale, pattern, color. Awesome.

Will said she'd give me a bit of the fabric if I knew what project I was going to use them for. Well I finally figured it out and hoped she'd give me some 4" squares. Instead she generously gave me a whole roll of these gorgeous beauties. I almost cried then and I'm about in tears now. Thank you, Will, I will do my best to make you proud.

Now I'm almost overwhelmed - I have more choices of what to make now. I have some red, white, and blue plaids (and combinations thereof) that may play well with these, plus I'll throw in some solids. Then I'll think on it. Any pattern would have to be really low key - the star of this quilt will be these fabrics. Actually, I suspect there are two or three quilts here. Woohoo!

Remember a few months ago when I showed you one of the my cherished wovens that I believed was Dutch. Several of ya'all suspected they were German instead. I believe it - I definitely have an affinity for this kind of fabric (be it Dutch or German. There is just not enough plaid fabric being made today. Although maybe plaid isn't necessarily the right word. Wovens...

This textile trove wasn't the only gift in store for me yesterday. The mail service kindly delivered my Netflix discs and last but not least, Hedgehog Jen sent me a sweet mini quilt. That's mine at 11 o'clock. What a completely unexpected, wonderful thing to do. Thank you.

Yesterday was wonderful for other reasons as well. I got to talk Will's ear off about quilts, see some of her work in progress, revisit a favorite quilt, and borrow several magazines and books. Woohoo!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Chocolate Scaffolding

Paris has some amazing scaffolding. I previously showed you the melting building, well here is the giant bar of chocolate:
Love the 3-D foil wrapping

I haven't taken a walk in awhile - too many gray skies combined with sheer laziness. I have been hand quilting. Perhaps too much - the middle knuckle on my thimble finger has ached for a couple of weeks. Feels like I jammed it somehow, but I don't remember ever doing that. Please don't let this be arthritis.

Didn't get nearly enough sleep last night. First the monsters upstairs were still jumping around making noise at 11:00pm and then Habibi attacked my sweetie's foot at 5:00am. After that yelp of pain (wouldn't be fair to call it a shriek) I was too awake to sleep but too tired to do anything more exerting than Sudoku.

Onto a completely different topic. I rarely used to respond to comments, then started feeling guilty because so many bloggers were doing so that I then started at least attempting to reply to them all. It's hard because I rarely have anything to say other than "thank you" or an agreement of some kind. Sigh. I'm boring that way. Plus I'm a terrible correspondent in general - I have a huge queue of emails I'm late answering... So I'm going back to the rarely responding to comments thing. Let me just say in advance I adore you all, I read all your comments and I appreciate them. But unless you're asking a question you probably won't hear back from me.

By the way fellow bloggers, feel free to not respond to my comments either. It's usually unnecessary - I just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you.