Saturday, May 31, 2008

New things learned...

See this happy face? This is a boy so happy that he is FINALLY riding on a big kid swing. 5 minutes later he decided to just let go of the ropes, just like in the baby swing, and he fell. He was so sad. He said that he bounced his head. We were sad too. Don't worry he was totally fine and running around 5 minutes later.
I was cutting all of the fat quarters for the 118th post giveaway and as I was about to slice the large floral pictured above, I thought--"I need a little summer project bag and this is some great material (Thanks Em!!)."

So, making one bag is just as easy as making 2--and it fits all the fabric and the super-cool mix CD too...Hooray! It was nice to sew something today!
12 hours left...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

AHhhhh, I love livin' the blog life...

I am sure that I am the only mom who sometimes dreams of living in the clean, quite Land o' blog. The land where no one is screaming or peeing on you. The land where creative ideas and bulging fabric (or whatever your pleasure) stashes flourish. The land where you just get to be your best self, the one who never yells at their kids and who never has to leave music performances because #2 keeps yelling "WHAT IS THAT MAN DOING?" The best self, who keeps her cool all day long, even when the kids keep alternating who is going to be the sweet and gentle boy and who is going to have a grand tantrum in a quiet, but very public place. Why can't they both (and maybe me too.) just scream and get it out of their system and then we can play and have a good time???? Why?

Blogland, where I can retreat and post (on a hairy-scary realworld day)about frivolous things like my cute pincushions. I got these from a nice woman at the, get this, Antique tractor and quilt show that our WHOLE family went to a few weekends ago. Really, there was something for each of us to see and enjoy. I really liked the graphic lines of the old tractors and THERE WERE QUILTS! We all had a great time (maybe I will post some pics tomorrow.) I also get to share the strawberry needle case that I got at a quilt show. I never thought that I would need something like this, but I do is so handy. Also in Blogland I can frivolously post about new fabric that I bought in Portland during Quilt Market Weekend. I took some money with me that was just for being crazy...I was. There just was this sale (famous last words...)
I have more fabric, of course, but how much can I post?? My favorite piece (right now) is this one:
The Echino booth at the Market had a little purse made out of was just so deliciously weird, like fabric Tim Burton would have lining his suit coat. I like the birds and the spiders and there is a bee... it is just too bizarre. Maybe I will cut it, maybe it will have to go in to the stash and "age" a bit. I can take it out every so often and pet it and think of what it "might" be made in to...We will see.


Did you here that? I feel a bit better now after visiting the Land o' blog. My heart a bit lighter, blood pressure able to face the next 26 hours, ALONE with THEM, while my husband is in Phoenix on a business trip. (I will be just fine, but what would I be without the drama?)


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A tutorial follow-up!!!

Here it is folks: My fool proof way of avoiding this and this. I just put some extra pins in the sides to hold up the extra backing and VOILA... No need to resort to the mad skillz that I have developed with scissors and a seam ripper AND I still had enough material to hold while I quilted the edges. (I understand that this may have been obvious to some, I just really need to learn things the hard way.)
The boys are ready. They are rockin'. They are a-rollin'. They are ready to find the 118th post celebration winner! All you need to do is comment here about who is the Rock Star that you would most like to meet...they don't need to be a Musical rock star, or a Rock Star quilter...just someone you have thought is cool and would like to meet. June 1st @ noon, it's a good thing (you could want to meet Martha, I am afraid that prospect is still a bit too scary for me.)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Food, bringing back the birds...

I am excited to try this broccoli tonight. It is a Romanesco variety. I am curious how it is going to taste. The info marker said that it had a cashew like flavor. BUT all of the pictures that I have seen of it are more a lime green of a color...obviously mine is kind of purple. I did plant it near some "common" broccoli, but it doesn't seem like that should effect it pollination-wise...because the florets are the flowers. It just seems really purple to me, I guess we will see.
The birdies are back, or should I say the biddies are back. I have been wanting to cut in to my stash of reds, whites and blacks, but I have been holding off so as to have enough for this quilt. I haven't worked on it for almost a year. Re-reading my old post I was talking a good game about finishing projects and blah-blah-blah, and these hens sat in my closet for how long??? I took them out yesterday and have been powering through. I already had it mostly together and it is going to go fast to finish it. That said, one thing that I did notice when I started putting thing together was how much I have improved in the past year.

My mad piecing skillz, my applique (SCADS better now), it is all better now.(If I keep this up, where could I be next year??) Maybe sometimes you have to put a big quilt away for a while and work on some small technique oriented projects. This wasn't my plan, but it is the way that it has worked out. All for the better I say (so far).

I have in my head that I will finish it and enter it in my guild's quilt show this fall. Right now, while sitting in front of the computer and blogging that seems totally do-able...we will see when I get back to reality.

AND I am so excited to get my mitts on those polka dots!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hi, my name is Jessica...

My name is Jessica and I can't read a calendar. Somewhere in the last month I have lost a week. Have you seen it? It was the week of May 19th-25th. This is what happens to me when I try to do something as CRAZY as a contest (a.k.a. a Random Drawing). I looked at the calendar and thought "Hey, June 1st is a nice round number and it is this Sunday. That is a great day to end...I wonder what I should do for my mother's birthday..."

So it goes, apparently this is going to be the longest Random Drawing skill test in the history of blogs... and if that ain't a way to celebrate remaining afloat after 118 posts, I don't know what is. I am keeping it the way it is, I am sure that I am the only one that cares (or feels silly that I have a missing week.)

BUT to maybe interest you a wee bit here are some more podcasts that I have been listening to:

PRI:studio360... A good podcast of pop culture and the arts with a dash of the creative thinking. I like that it has a different theme (some times a VERY loose theme.) every week and that I learn about things that I may not learn about otherwise. I like the host, sometimes he comes off rather Fop-ish, (I think that is the word that I want to use.) but it is endearing rather than annoying.

Alternative Kitchen Garden... Out of the her voice and her devotion to her garden and compost is inspiring. I like the bit that she has about "What is happening in the Gro-Dome?" Where she goes out to her...well, Gro-Dome and checks on the happenings in there. It usually is short and sweet and she knows a lot about a lot of things that I don't know yet. LIKE A LOT of different vegetables that I haven't tried. (I feel like eating Swiss chard is pretty adventuresome for me.)
(the picture above is a plea for the bees to rally and not go extinct... we need good pollinators...and I think that they look cool.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blast from the past...

Here we are in all of our 70's and my little bro. He and his wife were due to have their first baby on the 20th. Here I am 3 days later, waiting, waiting, waiting.

I feel for my sister in law, my first baby was 4 days over-due and those were the LONGEST 4 days of my life. SO I am sure that she is WAY more ready for this little one to be here than I am. (Did I say that it is a GIRL??!!)

I am really excited and I wish them an easy time of it...I better go, they might call at any moment...
(Yikes, I still have to finish the binding on her quilt...)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What do you do when you meet a rock star?

Excuse my "star" worship for a bit...but I got to meet and talk to Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy this past weekend. I got to attend Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon this past weekend. I had to go...just had to. I thought that there was an outside chance that Mr. Fassett would be there. He is giving a whole WEEK of workshops in Sisters this week. (we will not speak of the funk I sunk into last week when I realized that he was going to be so close and that I could not wheedle my way into a class.)

I love his work. After I read "Glorious Patchwork", I no longer wanted to quilt, I wanted to QUILT ! So, I grabbed my copy and shoved it in my bag on the off chance HE would be at Market. He was and I did.

I sat down and talked to both Kaffe and Liza about quilting. Liza and I spoke of our love of "ugly" fabric and the gloriously "ugly" quilts that use fabrics available to quilters during different time periods. It felt amazing to articulate to them what their work had done for me as an artist. I think that they appreciated my gratitude, which also felt amazing to me. I did get an feels like a bookmark in time for me. A memento of a moment when I stepped outside my fear bubble and did what I really wanted to and was free from that self-consciousness that is becoming a less constant companion. I look at it and it feels good.Quilt Market proved to be QUITE the eye opening experience. It was great to see EVERYTHING. It also took away some of the scary mystique about being a part of the business of quilting.

When I turned 30, maybe it was when I decided to quit my other life as a Wastewater Analyst (boo--there's something scary for you), I started to ask people about their jobs. For curiosity's sake, yes...but also because I never had a clue what I wanted to do and I wondered if other people did. So, for 6 hours on Saturday I just wandered around Quilt Market, asking different designers and publishers why they got in to the industry and what they would recommend for some new starting out...I got some great responses.
Sue Spargo was so friendly. She said that people need to stick to and cultivate their own distinctive style. I like that. (Thanks to this blog...I had just been introduced and admiring one of her patterns a few weeks ago.) By the way she is coming to do a class/es at the Sisters quilt show in 2009...I am DEFINITELY going to be there.
I am getting sleepy and I still have the niece's quilt to finish so here are some other things at Market that I enjoyed:
Anna Maria Horner--I love her Drawing Room line, but I can't wait for the Garden Party. What a beautiful booth and a lovely person!
Keri Beyer's Urban Farm Fabric line --polka dots on cows...need I say more?
M&S Textiles Australia--I know, maybe I am the last one to know...GREAT prints.
Waterpail designs--Beautiful hand-dyed woolens...gorgeous colors.
Oliver + S--cute patterns for kids (mostly girls, but some new boy patterns in the fall)
Curved piecing foot--I really want to try this, but REALLY, how much curved piecing do I do? Maybe more, if I had this foot...she made it look really easy.
Banafana patterns--new designer from Idaho--She was a really sweetie, it was her first Market too. Her booth was OVER THE TOP!!! I liked the quilt she made with a huge guitar on had rick-rack strings...need I say more?
Blue Underground Studios--Zany color combos for her patterns--nice lady, very friendly and funny too!

What will I do with all of my new found info??

Probably wake up in the middle of the night for weeks with the ol' noodle working overtime-- who knows?

I also bought a LOT o' fabric...

Since I was too zonked to celebrate my 100th post--what if we celebrated the 118th post together?

Yeah 118!!!

I have some fat quarters, a zany mix CD and assorted other goodies for a lucky bloggy friend. To be the winner why don't you all leave a comment here and tell me who is the "rock star" that you would most like to meet. (they don't have to be musical, but it would be fun if you picked someone that was actually living, so then maybe you could really meet them.) I will pick (totally randomly) someone June 1 @ high noon PST.
Yes, let's do that!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Patterns, patterns everywhere...

Today I took the boys on a bus adventure. We stopped off at the old stomping grounds. 14 years ago, the where and when, I started my first quilt. I have always been obsessed with patterning in things... sequences, collections of things... what makes them similar? Different? Where is the repeat? What is the secondary pattern?
Consciously, sometimes unconsciously, trying to make order visually, mentally.
I must have walked over these tiles hundreds of times...but...
I just don't remember ever seeing them.
It feels silly to have missed them previously, but also like maybe they were calling to me, some kind of code...
and only today did it come through.
In the background tonight, at my house, are strains of Beethoven. My husband is watching "Immortal Beloved". We both just love it. The music, the acting, the sets and costumes are amazing and transporting. Watch it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More to learn, always...A tutorial.

This chard, besides being tasty, looked interesting to me today, like a piece of flesh or an organ. (yikes, that sounds kind of morbid.) But an interesting thought--veins in a leaf--veins in a heart. Homology in the universe-- Talk amoungst yourselves...
My village is coming along. I pieced together the middle piece last night, after it had been laying on the design wall begging to be dealt with. I decided to take out a house that I was feel ill towards and I made the light one on the end, and finally I felt that it could be sewn together. I am not totally happy with the edging that I put on. I think that it needs to be spruced up. I love the print of the fabric and the neighborhood has so many bias edges, that I thought that it needed to be "gated" before I left it to hang for much longer. I think now my study of wonky houses needs to continue...I am going to make a bunch more of the "sub-urban" houses around the outside and cobble them all together somehow.

We will see what happen. This is the MOST experimental I have been with my quilting. This is not going to be my masterpiece (Not that I am ready to make a masterpiece, I find that I am freer to try different things if I state that at the outset.) This is going to just be a exploratory large quilt, so that I can see what I can do if I am not trying to make some thing look "a certain way"--I am not sure if I am explaining myself properly--But I tend towards a "product-minded" out some rather than a "process-minded" outcome (could I get more analytical?? Please!) This project has really made me excited about the process of quilting. I have been working on this piece in fits and starts, letting it rest when I haven't been able to figure out where to go or when I have felt frustrated with my skills.

Making the pink house in my swap quilt (if you want to see how it was received you can look here.) helped me make something that was more "pretty" and increased my confidence so that could continue with this neighborhood quilt... We will just have to see... For our tutorial today:

Changing rotary cutter blades.

1)Change blades often, it reduces wrist fatigue when cutting through multiple pieces of fabric. A sharp blade also decreases the incidence of a wavery line when you are cutting over multiple seam allowances. 2)Have care when reassembling the rotary cutter with the new SUPER sharp blade. If it falls, even from a short distance, it will slice ANYTHING, your finger, the door in your growing neighborhood....ANYTHING.

3)Be prepared, when the door gets sliced, to not flog yourself too terribly. Remember there are no accidents, only (re)design OPPORTUNITIES!! Yeah me! At least it wasn't my finger??


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Spring swap comes to an wonderful end!

Look at these beauties I found in the garden this morning...

I am extremely arachnophobic, but even I can see the miracle in these newly hatched babies...mostly because they hatched OUTSIDE!! We are all overjoyed at our new arrival--my swap quilt from dear Cathi in Toronto (you can also find her over here.) I don't know how she knew, it must have been fate, but I have always admired the workmanship behind the Grandmother's flower garden pattern--but I know that I don't have it in myself to do. I am so happy that now I can look at this little beauty, done marvelous Asian prints, and treasure it. It was made just for me! Thanks SO much Cathi!! I walked around all day (quite a few people dropped by this day) and showed it off. To every one I said "DO you want to see the quilt I received in my swap??" Before they had a chance to answer I ran off to get it...everyone deserves to see this wonderful quilt. Cathi also sent me some fabric (I love receiving fabric) and a beaded scissor fob and a notebook--it was like a birthday, where I got just what I wanted!!!
She also made a beautiful pieced label...WOW!
I am feeling that I am living a blessed swap life...
I will do this swap again, despite my own handwork insecurities, it is run very well and I enjoy meeting all these new quilting friends.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Spring is really here...

I guess we all have our own reactions to watching our first marathon...
Yo-- if looks could kill...
He actually had a great time, but this frown is so funny.

My eldest invited us all out for an exciting breakfest at Denny's. It was very fancy and we all could have just what we liked. The boys prefer pancakes with a side of pancakes. I think that they would eat them morning, noon, and night if I would let them.

Yesterday the eldest told his Grandma---
"You and Grandpa should stay at Motel 6, you would really like it."
Grandma replied "Would we? Why?"
"Because there is a Denny's next door and then you could have pancakes when ever you liked."

Well, great. If that is all it takes to keep him happy, our road trip this summer should be easy-peasy. There are Denny's all across our fine country!

After the marathon sighting, (I was the only one who cheered, everyone else just smiled and rocked back and forth with their hands in their pockets) we saw our first goslings of the season. They were very cute, but stuck on the apartment side of the fence, I hope they finally found the water.
I also spotted my first lupine of the season-- So beautiful. What wonderful engineering!
Later in the afternoon, my eldest thought that he needed a wrist pincushion. We made it together, he is an excellent project director and stuffer. It was a great time.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mamma Mia, now I really know...

Two Sundays=2 nights out for this Mommy!!
Last week it was The Swell Season (see wrap-up in previous post). This week it was a "Mamma Mia!", musical night out with my little sis. If you can recall we went to see "Evita" together, and our "Mamma Mia!" excursion was a birthday present from myself and the husband (I like when I get to benefit from my gifts to others, don't you?). We got to go have sushi for dinner (The GREATEST!) and then coffees (The BEST!), then the show (PHENOMENAL!!!)

At intermission I explained the show as "having the crazy energy of a high school musical [an actual high school musical not High School Musical.], but with out all the mess-ups." (this is a compliment to both this show and all of the musicals that I saw in high school--they were really fun, but sometimes painful when people were musically challenged.) I don't really know what I was expecting, because all I knew about "Mamma Mia!" was that it contained ABBA songs (They got me through senior year of high school. We would always sing "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme a man after midnight" But we never got one, and I don't think that we would have known what to do if we had. I was a late bloomer.) I was sort of worried that it would be cheezy... in a bad way. BUT NO, it was so cheezy... in a GOOD way, the best way. I don't want to give away too much, BUT there was a dance number done entirely in purple wetsuits and flippers---WHAT is POSSIBLY better than dancing in flippers??!!! Enough was great...go see it yourself. This was the best surprise of the night (only because I FINISHED ANOTHER QUILT!!!) I made this quilt for Miss M sister as a sort of Graduation/Birthday (18th/19th) present. It took me that long, only because she was living with me at the time, and it is sort of hard to make a quilt for some one when they are living in your studio area. A lot of love was sewn in to this quilt and I was so happy when she was genuinely excited to receive it. (some times our tastes collide--some times it works out.) This pattern drove me crazy for a while, because I really didn't like it, AT ALL, before I sewed the pinwheels and 16 patches all together....IT LOOKED VERY BAD. After I stitched it together, I could see the secondary design (kinda) and I went a bit free with the asymmetrical borders. That is what clinched it for me. Little by little I am learning, and I think that we all should--I quilt for myself. I create for myself, as an expression of myself. I need to do what moves me creatively, rather than what I think is "cool" or in "style". I like a sometimes bizarre mix of fabrics, that is what makes me happy--other people prefer a muted colorway, or fabrics all from one line--it is all OK. This was my first larger quilting project in a year and the first one done on my new Bernina. (Which I LOVE LOVE LOVE, but that is for another post.)

Go see a show, a play, a concert. Get out and explore what is going on in your community-- something is going on, you might need to just seek it out! It is SO worth it!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

May day...technical difficulties and all.

All I wanted to do was make a little mosaic of my flowers...but all I got was this. Too small, but I am going to go crazy if I try and navigate the site any longer. We get what we get.

To restart, on a more positive note ("Take this sinking boat and point it home, We've still got time")....The Swell Season was great. I like lots of different types of music and I am always so disappointed when people get on stage and you realize that their (to quote my eldest, ) " their rockin' sound" is due to production time in the studio. The Swell Season featuring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova is NOT such a group...they are truly musicians. What you hear on their CDs is them, not fancy remastering.

They were SO good, did I say that yet? I mean, really good. Glen has such a unique and powerful way of singing that it makes the song inside of your own body strive to escape (even if you are not especially musical.) The concert was very intimate and I felt like I was party to more of an organized jam session.

The show was FANTASTIC beginning with Glen singing "Say It to Me Now" a cappella...WOW. They played all sorts of songs, some I had heard before and some that were new to me. Their encore began with Marketa singing "If You Want Me." My FAVORITE song from the movie. They went on to play 4 more songs, a hefty encore. I liked that Glen and Marketa were so real and personable with the audience and that the whole show had a feel of spontaneity to it. I would go and see them again in a heartbeat. It was definitly a great date night, thanks sweetie!

Finally, we have the finished swap quilt. I am so pleased with it, I hope that my swapee will like it too.

I had a really hard time with this one, because near the end I was finishing 3 quilts and I felt a bit squnched. To be quite honest after the last swap (Winter) there was a bunch of rules and things that were posted and it made me think that some people are having sour grapes issues and I have a hard time with rules and things. (They make me feel like what I create does not measure up, when really it does.) I like to think that people are doing swaps to create an artistic community and make friends, maybe even try out new techniques, not to receive some "perfect" product. That is what I am about. I am not in to requesting some "super" cool quilter to be my partner, because I think that we all have it in us to be the best we can be. I am in to quilting, creating a community, and growing as a quilter. I am in to the experience of making a quilt that is for a new friend and sending that quilt off in to the world.

Off my soap box...

So, I tried to piece what I thought would be wanted (see the back picture below) and I like it now...but when I was making it, my heart wasn't in it and the quilt police were whispering in my ear "those points aren't perfect", "Why is there a gap there? Those prints are too busy!"

I really hate those guys.

I really didn't want my spring quilt to be filled with so many crabby thoughts, so I made the "Girl at the Spring House" instead. I am so relieved, because as soon as I started sewing the pink polka-dot scraps together to make walls, the mean voices quieted down. Then, I remembered the material with the little girl swinging, my swapee has a little girl, so I just had to put it in. I really love this little wall hanging. I know that it will have a good home.

Perhaps, participating in a swap is just a personal challenge to listen to my own creative voice. Maybe, you never know.