Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Croque Monsieur

I'm on a diet. Ha ha ha. Let me try that again. Theoretically, I'm on a diet. But temptation is everywhere in Paris and I keep telling myself, well, you won't live here forever you have to treat yourself while you can. sigh.

My sweetie and I had lunch in Montmartre this weekend. I mortified him by taking out the camera so I could show you what exactly a Croque Monsieur sandwich is. We call them Croak Monsters and they're basically a ham sandwhich with cheese on top that gets all bubbly under the broiler. Yes, I know I could have skipped the frites, but that's all part of the experience too, right?
My husband got the Croque Madame, which has an egg on top:

We ate outdoors at a cafe called Le Chinon - very sweet friendly waiters always happy to speak english. I haven't tried anything but the Croque Monster, but I'm sure the rest of the food is excellent as well. It's on the corner of Rue Audran and Rue des Abbesses. I'm probably mangling the spelling of that...

Now to answer a quick Blogger question that Anna raised. I highly recommend that you set your blog up so that your comments come into your email. Do that by going to your SETTINGS, then choose the Comments folder. At the bottom of that page there is a space for Comment Notification Email. Add your email address there.

Your email address won't appear anywhere on your blog by putting it there. It just means that you will receive every comment posted on your blog in your email. Then it's a very simple matter to reply to comments at least from fellow Bloggers or those who've set up a Blogger profile.

Unless they're no-reply. If Bloggers want their email addy to show up, then they need to go into their profile and add it. That's the best way to interact.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Some of This, Some of That

I feel good! Yesterday I completed my top, now called Raspberry Rumspringa (it's the second quilt in the Rumspringa series. I just love that word. Rumspringa, rumspringa, rumspringa.) And no, you don't get to see it.

We had sunshine and I got out a bunch of quilts to take better photos of them. Not great photos, but better. While I had the camera out, of course I had to take a pic of baby Pokey:

You know how I showed you a pic of Nancy's quilt that she made at Gwen Marston's retreat? Well Nancy has now started her blog - woohoo! It's called True Blue Quilting Nana. She's got pictures and a story from retreat, so go say hello and encourage her to post even more!

[edited to answer Clare's question: No, this isn't the Nancy who's antique quilts appeared in Liberated String Quilts. I still hope that Nancy starts a blog too!]

The Priority Hope Challenge is going great - come on over and check out some awesome little quilts. There's still plenty of time to make one of these yourself.

I'm cogitating and plotting another class. I'll fill you in soon (and if I don't, jab me with a stick).

The rest of this post will be about photos and space limitations on Blogger.

I have been posting over three years now and have only used up 16% of my alloted 1GB of space on Blogger. But, having said that, I resize my photos BEFORE I upload them to Blogger.

In Picasa, I edit my photos and SAVE them. I name them and then go under FILE and choose the option to Export Picture to Folder. It gives you the choice of what size to make the photo. For snapshots and almost every one of my pics, I now choose 480 pixels. That's a nice size. For pictures of quilts that I want you to be able to see the detail, then I'll go to 800 or 1024 pixels. Very rarely have I gone about that.

So I choose a size and send my photo to a folder called Websize. I only upload to Blogger from THAT folder.

I put my pics on my blog using blogger itself. I click the little square that looks like a landscape and it pops the Photo Upload tool. I choose the browse my computer option and always have my photos in the center and LARGE.

Now Picasa and Blogger will take the full huge megapixel photo and resize it to fit the screen properly, but they don't resize the number of pixels. So you're still taking up all that allotted space. How do you know how big your photos actually are? Go to your blog and click on a photo - if it comes up huge, bigger than your computer screen then you know you're loading big photos. Click on the pic of Pokey up above. When that photo launches, it won't be much bigger than how you're seeing it in the blog post.

Some other things to know. As soon as you've uploaded a photo into a blog post, that space counts against you even if you choose to delete it and never publish it in a post. Space gets used by UPLOADS. So going back and deleting old blog posts? Won't work. No point in going and resizing photos either. The space is already counted against you.

So the moral of the story is, you have plenty of photo space for your blog. Just make sure that you resize your photos and make them smaller before you send them into a blog post or the Picasa online photo album.

And I just hope that none of you have the terrible time loading photos that Giraffe Dreams Carol E. had (has?). That's how I learned that it's uploads that count against you.

Good luck. Did that answer the questions?

I'm editing this post to answer a couple of questions.

How do I know how much space I've used? Click on that little landscape icon when you're editing a blog post. The Photo Upload Tool will pop up. At the very bottom, next to the orange button it will tell you what percentage of your space you've used up. Mine says: You are currently using 161MB (15%) of your 1024MB.

OR you can follow the directions here - but my way is a lot faster. It also says that if you have to buy more storage space it costs $20 USD per year for 10 GB.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Identitiy Theft and Blogging

I just learned some scary information about how easy it is to hack into someone's email or other online accounts. As bloggers (or Facebookers, College Alumni) etc we put a lot of information out into the ether that someone malicious could use against us or our family.

In a Scientific American article How I Stole Someone's Identity, author Herbert H. Thompson writes about just how easy it was to gain access to accounts just by knowing a few items about someone such as their name, hobby, and where they work. EEK. Getting an email address can provide even more info.

You can listen to the author on the Talk of the Nation radio show on September 23rd. Here's a link to get to the show's blog, look for the post entitled It's a Hacker's World Out There. The audio is available there (and on iTunes). Listen to the show and read what they have to say.

For instance, lots of online security measures ask for things like Mother's Maiden Name, Name of First Pet.

I've seen lots of that in people's blogs, along with exact birthdates and places. And even more information than that. And I've seen that information about people's children.

There are some good preventative tips in the article and I loved the suggestion that one caller made: never give out your mother's REAL maiden name as the answer to a security question. Use a made up word from your childhood that is easy to remember but has never ever been on the web. Like Schnorgleplatz or something. Lie on those questions, just make sure you know what the answer is.

Talk about these things with your kids - they need to know too.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sharing Work and Blogging

Wow, I think I hit a nerve on that last entry about posting photos.

Nancy gave me permission to post pics of her own work on this blog, but I'm just going to show you one of them, since I'm hoping she's going to start a blog herself (woohoo!) This liberated log cabin houses quilt contains little pink squares from Nancy's grandmothers stash. Makes it even more special.

And since I was compiling links for her, figured I might as well share them with ya'all. Blogs are a great way to share your love of quilting.

Here's a video tutorial for beginning a blog on Blogger. There are other tutorials that may help as well, such as adding gadgets.

Here's where you go to start your Blogger blog.

Blogger has great tutorials themselves in their Help Center. Here's one showing how to upload photos.

I highly recommend that you also download Picasa, a free photo tool that helps you to get the image just right AND you can also work with it to upload photos to Blogger. I use Picasa to brighten and crop my photos making me look like I'm a better photographer than I actually am.

Help with Picasa can be found here.

Speaking of photos, here's my darling Lily:

Super-brightened Lily:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Etiquette for Posting Photos

I have a quick question for you all. Is there any established etiquette (or netiquette) about posting photos of other people and other peoples class work on a blog? I know I've seen (and really enjoyed) photos from classes and retreats posted on the net. Have you all asked express permission to post the photos online or just not worried about it?

My response is to say "No Problem - go ahead and post unless someone has asked you NOT to." For instance I can understand if teachers didn't want certain copyrighted classroom material published. Any thoughts on the matter?

My Love Affair With Solids

Hedgehog Jen may be having an affair with knitting, but I'm having one with solid fabrics. I'll get back to patterned fabrics one of these days, but not yet. Usually it's Lily mashing down the strips and crumbs on my sewing table, but Howler and Habibi occasionally help out:

I just ordered more solids and near solids.

Cherrywood Fabric, I do love you. They're selling Cherry Rolls now, a great way to get a variety of fabrics. Not that I went that way, I bought quarter yards and even some halves. woohoo. They came in the mail yesterday and oh my....

Also, I can recommend a great place to buy Kona Solid fabric. My order hasn't come in yet, but I've ordered from Fabric Shack before - they're great. They let you order small amounts of yardage and only charge you for the exact cost of shipping. Fabric Shack has the best price for Kona and Moda solids too. Only $3.99 a yard. And since they let you order quarter or eighth yards, you can really get a variety of them.

Check out my previous post. You get more of a glowing effect when you use colors that are almost the same, but not quite. I used five different fabrics for the letters in the HOPE quilts and it does make a difference.

In addition to Kona solids I also ordered some fabric from the new line by Marcus Brothers called Sahara Cloth. It looks like it's going to be a hand-dyed looking suede fabric but at a better price than for real hand-dyes. I'll let you know how those look when I get them. Anyone seen them already?

Oh and for you reproduction fabric fans out there, have you seen the Windham Colonies Cheddar and Poison Green collection? I even love them. Didn't order them, but I love them. Gotta put some brakes on my fabric buying habits somewhere.

I was thinking it would be fun to have a class next year where we use Gwen Marston's Ideas and Inspirations as OUR inspiration and work with solids or near solids (there are lots of things that fall into that category, such as hand-dyes (not the wildly multi-colored ones), hand-dyed batiks, moda marbles...). I'm definitely wanting to do that, so put the book and fabric on your wishlists if you're interested in joining me.

Speaking of Gwen and solids, I figure someone who reads this blog must have just come back from the most recent session of the Beaver Island Retreat. How did it go? Do you have photos to share?

Quilt Granny Sharon went to the previous week and posted her marvelous photos here. Doesn't everyone look like they're having fun?

The quilt Kristin is working on looks like it could have been made at Gwen's retreat - all liberated and solidy, but I know she came up with that all on her own. Ryan's quilt is just incredible and I love it. Plus you can see a pic of cutie Scrabble puppy and two other projects.

I've finished the quilting on the little Hope quilt I'm making for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. I've challenged ya'all to come and make one with me. I need to clarify something though. It's only for MY challenge that the priority quilts have be to sent in by November 20th. And only for the challenge that they have to contain the word hope or a bird.

The AAQI gratefully always accepts the little quilts year round and gratefully. All the profits go to fund Alzheimer's research. [ooh, good thing I just caught a typo. That said "fun Alzheimer's research" - eek, I bet that's not much fun at all.]

Complete change of topic. Anyone with U.S. mail interested in trying Netflix for the first time ever? I can offer you a month-long trial period instead of the usual two weeks, plus I get one free rental woohoo. I love my Netflix and I continue to get them even though the mail here is soooo slow. (Yes, we do get U.S. mail through my husband's job.) When I was in the states living near major cities I was getting the discs the day after they shipped and it was marvelous. Send me an email if you're interested.

The first thing you should try renting? Pushing Daisies. I just finished the first season and I love love love love it. So much that I'm going to do a separate post on it one of these days.

That's all for me, gotta go get some work done. cheers, ya'all.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Announcing the Priority Hope Challenge

Instead of holding my usual kind of class this fall, I decided instead to challenge you all to make a small quilt to donate to Ami Simm's Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. Go take a look at my blog for the Priority Hope Challenge to find out more.

These are small quilts (no bigger than 9" x 12") and don't take much time to make. Here's a top I sewed this morning:

Yeah, it still needs quilting, and that will definitely take longer.

This is a very worthy cause and I hope you'll take part in this challenge. The deadline to have the quilts in the mail is Thanksgiving, November 20th. See, plenty of time for such a bity treasure.

Let me know if you have any questions. Take care.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is it My Birthday?

It's been like my birthday in the mail this week. I received a package from Threadlines KathieB who sent some hand-dyes and "scraps" of fabric. Scraps? Some of these are at least a quarter yard. And Knit One Quilt Too Kristin surprised the heck out of me with this lovely little fungly. Isn't it amazing? Even better in person. Thank you both, you're wonderful.

And the new Gwen Marston book Ideas and Inspirations arrived. Woohoo!!! Here's an obligatory pic of Lily with the book (she has to check them all out) plus a distant peek at the current sewing project on the design wall.

I've opened up the book to my favorite quilt, Summer Fruit Salad, which Gwen pieced in 2001. It's an amazing mix of string and crumb blocks and a few "real" blocks mixed in. The blocks finish at just 3". She has liberated houses, shoo-flies and stars... Amazing. Everything I love in a quilt all together. A very modern take on a utility quilt.

Did I mention it's hand quilted? Almost all the quilts in the book are, and they're amazing. I've only ever seen two of these before and that's out of 28 quilts. How does she get that much work done? She's incredible.

So I've seen the book in person and I can now tell you for sure: it's fabulous. Highly recommended. Just as a warning, it's smaller than I expected - just 8.5" square. But that's my fault - I didn't read the description - I didn't care what size it was!

Lois just returned from her 24th Beaver Island Quilt Retreat with Gwen, although she admits she may have missed a couple. Holy cats, that's still tons of retreats. Lois gave me permission to share this wonderful quilt top with you. It just glows:

Thanks, Lois.

What else is going on in my world... Sunshine!!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Stash

Victoria asked how I store my fabric. Hmm, do piles of fabric all around my work area count as storage? An aside: look at this, I'm willingly using brown fabric! eeeeek.

My real storage area is back in the guest bedroom. The plastic bins are full of scraps and strings (sorted by fabric into ziplock sandwich bags - I know, surprisingly anally retentive). I use a sheet to block out the light and dust. I used to have a beautiful Egyptian woven bedspread up, but the little cats love to sleep behind the sheet and then there's always combat through it... After a couple of snags I decided to be practical instead of pretty.

When I first moved in I did have a certain amount of organization, but as time goes by, I just cram fabric back in...

My favorite part of making quilts is choosing the fabrics. So generally I don't organize them into too many different piles. I always love going through almost every stack to select what I need. On the left we have "my colors" of blues, greens, pinks, purples. Still love those, but my tastes have changed (oh my).

Then there are/were piles of black and white; solids and hand-dyes; halloween; christmas; patriotic; brights: yellow, orange, lime green; and finally fabrics for backing and sleeves.

So there's that.

I've played with my blog sidebar. You'll notice the gadget for Followers. Fun to see who reads the blog. I think you need a Blogger profile (but not a blog) to play. If you call up my profile and scroll down you'll see a list of blogs I Follow. Believe me, that's not all of them.

Next, Bonnie figured out how we can promote Gwen Marston's new book. For you Blogger users, grab a pic of the cover (or take one yourself!) and save it to your computer. Then go to your LAYOUT, ADD a GADGET, pick the PICTURE gadget. Add the image for the cover. There's a link option there, so add Gwen's homepage. There's a space called CAPTION where you can add your own words to describe how wonderful the book is or how much you're looking forward to receiving it... I suspect there's something similar for bloggers who use other platforms.

It's exciting to see a post from someone who's already gotten their copy . For instance, Woolywoman started to work on a Gwen inspired quilt.

I was excited to get a comment from Lynn of The Little Red Hen. She just got back from her tenth (or should that be eleventh?) Beaver Island Quilt Retreat with Gwen. Wow, jealous. She'll be posting pics from the retreat in a few days, which I'm really looking forward to seeing. I have to live vicariously through you all. Anyway, Lynn said that Gwen mentioned my blog during the retreat. Wooohoo!

If any BIQR attendees are reading this, I'd love to hear from you. Do you have a place on the web for us to see the pics you took? If you'd like to email me pics, with your permission I'll post them in this blog so that you can share them that way.

Ooooh, there's sunshine out there in the world, I gotta get a move on. Ya'll take care.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

La Belle Epoque Carrousel

The beautiful La Belle Epoque Carrousel in the Tullieries Garden of Paris. I took these photos back in May.

I love this elephant:

You can't really see it, but these have real horse hair tails.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hints, Howler and Stitches

I have been busy sewing. For now, all you'll see are hints. Mwa ha ha ha.

Just because she's gorgeous (and in the way!), here's Lily:

Even though he's not gorgeous -- but I did get a request -- here's Howler:

Doesn't he look put out that I'm taking his photo? Black cats are hard to photograph. He's a black hole, not to mention he gets nervous and runs whenever I pay too much attention to him with the camera.

Julie asked how I hand quilt multiple stitches and catch the backing on a single needle. Well truthfully I don't catch the backing with every stitch. When I first started out I was lucky to catch one in ten all the way through to the back. I just didn't worry about it and kept at it.

Bonnie once quilted her freehand fans from the back of the sandwich so that she could see where she was going. Not for me - my front stitches are definitely better than the ones on the back:

I can tell you what works for me to get multiple stitches on the needle. No hoop! No hoop, no frame, nothing. You can read more about it in my tutorial here. Since the quilt isn't stretched at all I have lots of flexibility to manuever the needle. That's what works for me anyway. That and practise, practise, practise.

By the way, my needles of choice are Richard Hemmings Large-Eye Betweens size 10.

Want to see some beautiful hand quilting and quilts? Sara recently posted about her great time at the Beaver Island Quilt Retreat with Gwen Marston - woohoo!!! Here's part one and part two. Sara took some great photos - just click and look at them closely.

The retreat this year was about solids and if these quilts look wonderful to you, then hop on over and check out Gwen's new book Ideas and Inspirations here on lulu (where you can also get the e-book) OR you can now get it directly from Gwen. Don't forget to tell her you you want it autographed. While you're there, pick up a copy of the now-out-of-print Liberated String Quilts - you won't regret it.

Indigo Threads Sharon has been working with some vintage 30's fabric. I love the first top in particular that she just completed as well as the pics of her kitties with the work in progress.

Jenny Bowker always posts some of the most incredible photos of Egypt and the Middle East, but in particular check out her post about the textile tour of Egypt and Syria.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


If Lily would just move I could show you how I've been quilting the border of Rumspringa.

Surprised? I know, hardly. Yes, I've been hand quilting unmarked freehand fans. Or have I? Maybe Lily has been doing the quilting around here:

My husband hasn't seen these photos, but I can hear him in my mind, noonooo Lily is going to get hurt by that needle, be careful, aaaaaaah. Not to worry, no kitties were injured in the making of these photos.

Speaking of my husband, he says why don't you ever put pics of the big cats in your blog? Well, they just aren't nearly as photogenic as the girls. But here's Habibi sitting in the wreckage of a cardboard box, one of his and Howlers favorite resting spots.

Links, links, links. Let's start with some Fungly Challenge links. I'm sure this isn't everybody, but I do my best. If you want to make sure people see your fungliness, then link your fungly post to this post. That way it will show up here and folks can follow it back to your blog.

Kristin has made a great Jacks on Six fungly top plus she's using the triangles she cuts away to make liberated Shoo Flies.

Finn has made some of the wildest funnest blocks. They appear here and there throughout her blog, but make sure you catch the blenderized Tweety.

Master of Patience Lynda has finished her Jacks on Six Fungly quilt - hurrah!

Roz finished a liberated orphan sampler fungly - great to see her playing and experimenting.

Speaking of liberation, Brenda finished her wonderful basket quilt top with free-pieced letters and Collaborative Quilting baskets. The colors are marvelous. And actually, you should read all of Brenda's blog if you're not already. I love her work and look forward to seeing how her Words Fail Me quilt turns out.

Check out the new-ish blog Bumble Beans by Victoria. She's just pieced a top in the spirit of Gee's Bend and it's marvelous.

Speaking of Gee's Bend quilters, check out this great Smithsonian magazine article on the most recent show Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt. I just finished reading the book. marvelous.

On a more serious topic, Persnickity Diane recently wrote about the impact of Multiple Sclerosis on herself and a good quilting friend. MS is a horrible cruel disease. Please consider a donation to support the work of the National MS Society.

You can actually still donate via Quiltville's Bonnie and Dave Hunter, even though the race he rode in is already over. Boy, I've been in a fog, meant to post about that weeks ago. Oops. At least the sun is out now and I'm thinking again.

Bummer of a note to end on. Maybe I should have put the depressing stuff first and then the cute photos of kitty paws...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Strings and Jane Austen

It doesn't feel like I've made much progress with my sewing, but maybe that's because I keep slicing up more strings for the pile. For what I'm currently working on (which I love by the way) I've discovered that I need a lot more thin strips than usual, so I keep adding more of those and then I wanted more with angles...

This is an older pic of Lily's paw - she was in my way while I was trying to baste Rumspringa.

And she's definitely decided the quilt is a great place to nap:

I have started hand quilting it and I'm making some progress. I bet you can guess what pattern I'm doing...

I watched the new BBC/PBS adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion and enjoyed it, definitely better than the 1995 version. I wish it had been longer with more carefully drawn details, but maybe that's the fault of the book... I admit I haven't read any of Miss Austen's work even though I avidly watch the tv shows and movies. Persuasion IS good but it's not Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.

Have any of you seen the latest Mansfield Park? I've heard very mixed reviews and the picture on the cover of a slutty young thing completely turns me off. That is NOT a Jane Austen heroine. I love the 1999 Mansfield Park but I've heard it's not very true to the novel. Not that I care, I suspect they've really improved on it.

I also watched The Painted Veil with Edward Norton and Naomi Watts, based on a Somerset Maugham novel about a doctor and his wife in China during a cholera outbreak in the 1920s. Bleah. For the most part dull dull dull and I just didn't care about the characters. No wit, vitality and charm like Austen's.

It's been gray here and I've been struggling. Don't ever ever let me move to the Pacific Northwest no matter how much I love it there. The weather will do me in. I spent a glorious summer in Seattle once and enjoyed it thoroughly, but then again they were having a drought, so I'm not sure I got the right impression.

Monday, September 01, 2008

L-O-V-E Again?

Am I stuck in a rut? Here I am again playing with L-O-V-E blocks in solids and hand-dyes. Speaking of the quilt I just basted, I'm going to go with Woolywoman's suggestion of Rumspringa. I like the connotations of adolescence and running or skipping around.

I've expanded my palette a bit and added in yellows, muted orange, and a few odds and ends I got in a Cherrywood grab bag. If you look closely, you'll notice there's something else different about these blocks as well.

Lily has been quite the pest today. She was determined to jump up on top of my sewing drawers, even though I had it stacked high. She had a fine place to sit after knocking everything else down. Here she is holding down some strips:

It is gray gray gray gray here today and something like 64 degrees. Blah. Not getting nearly as much accomplished as I should - just too sludgy.