Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Little Progress and a New Toy

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We had a nice family celebration, except that my poor DH was not feeling well, so he didn't come. We all missed him. I brought home some turkey dinner for him, but it's just not the same, I'm afraid. Poor guy, he's still not feeling so good.

I've made a little more progress in the quilt studio. I've gotten enough stuff cleared and put away that I can now get to the sewing machine . . . Yay! I still can't access my cutting table, even though I've moved some stuff. But I just needed to sit and sew for a few days. I have a small cutting station on part of the desk that the sewing machine is on, so that helps. Maybe this week I can get the cutting table all cleared off.

Here is what I've been sewing. I was making 9-Patches with the charm-like squares I showed in the previous post. I have 22 9-Patches now. Enough, I think, to make a small throw.
I'm not so sure I actually like this. The colors are too dark to my mind, but that may just be the dark, gloomy weather we're having. I may like it better after I've sliced and diced it into the Disappearing 9-Patch. If I don't like it any better, I'll probably donate it to charity.

Notice my little helper in the bottom left corner in that photo. Dunkel was deciding if he liked my layout. . . . I guess he didn't, because he re-arranged it later! Cats . . . they're such critics! hee hee!

This bright image and the one at the top of my post are from a cool on-line widget that my DearDaughter told me about. It's lots of fun to play with. Be sure you scroll down to see the different "brushes" you can use. You have to guess which brush does what, and you have no control (that I can tell, anyway) over the colors. Just hold down the left mouse button to drag the brush and see what you get!
I'll show you a few more screen shots (because a post without pretty pictures is just boring):

You can even use different brushes on the same canvas and combine effects. Too much fun!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Big Mess!

This is what my quilt studio looked like this morning. . . . like a bomb went off in here! Yikes!

For my birthday, my DH finally made me some more shelves to go in my armoires, for storing fabric, and I've been in the process of transferring fat quarters around. The armoires only had 2 shelves each and it was a big waste of space for what I needed them to do. So, one more shelf per armoire solved my problem!

This is where I've been storing many of my fat quarters. Not very easy or convenient to access, as I'm not 6 foot tall, and those bins are heavy. Not to mention that there's stuff in front of the shelves most of the time, like the ironing board. So, most of the time, I just didn't bother to get the bins down to use the FQ's. Kind of defeats the purpose of having them, doesn't it?

So, I've been working on this for a few days, and in the process have turned the quilt studio into a complete mess. I had stuff in the armoires and on the floor in front of the armoires, and stuff in the little plastic shoeboxes that I had purchased to put the FQ's in. It's been a process, let me tell you! Especially with one arm not functioning too well. I over-did the first day and had a lot of pain that night. I tried to go easier on it today, and we'll see how it feels tonight. I'm trying to pace myself, but what I really want to do is SEW, so I'm kind of pushing myself to get this done enough that I can clear a place to sew again. Never mind cutting! I still have a bunch of stuff that needs to be put away. Ugh.

Finally, all the fat quarters are transferred to their new homes! This is Armoire #1. I decided to leave the hand-dyes and marbled fabrics in stacks, because it's too hard to tell what they look like when they're bundled like the FQ's. I shuffle through them often, and I don't want to have to re-fold them all the time. So, it looks messy, but it suits my methods.

And this is Armoire #2. And yes, all the drawers in both armoires are full of FQ's too. (Have I ever mentioned how buying FQ's is like buying penny candy?? Especially when this vendor was at every quilt show I went to for years??) I even have a tiny bit of room left in the drawers . I'm really trying to not buy any more fat quarters ever again! Rarely, I'll buy one if that's all there is available and I love the fabric. But, I don't think I need any more!

I had no idea how many fat quarters I had until we moved into this house and I started storing the FQ's separately from yardage. Wow, they're not all that easy to store. I've been using this book to help me set up my studio, and she doesn't address this issue well enough for my amount of FQ's. (Otherwise, I love the book - it's been incredibly helpful.) And, that may be a hint that perhaps I have too many FQ's!

So, how do you store your FQ's? Please share with me!

Anyway, now that I have them more easily available, hopefully they'll start getting used up. I've been collecting patterns for FQ quilts lately, with that goal in mind. If I could quit injuring myself, maybe I could get more sewing done . . . . I need to remember this!!

Sorry there's no quilt-y content this post. I did manage to get about 3 or 4 9-patches sewn before the mess happened, but I haven't taken any pictures. Hopefully soon.

As I was working in the quilt studio this afternoon, I happened to notice this happening out in the street. This dastardly duo was enticing the ducks away from the pond, out of the park and down the street with bread crumbs. It looks like their bag has a LOT of bread in it! And these are our resident ducks, who are big greedy guts.

Sorry this picture is so fuzzy. I tried to get another one, but my camera battery died. While I was gone to get more batteries, they all disappeared. I have no idea what those boys had in mind to do with the ducks. . . maybe they were gonna be dinner!

By the way, just FYI, it's very hard to type with the cat's head resting on top of one's hand! I wonder if he wants some attention??

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


There's not much happening around here right now. I haven't posted in so long simply because there is nothing blog-worthy occuring. I'm just hanging out healing, for the most part. And things are getting better on that front, but still nothing exciting to blog about!

I did manage to get out to lunch and then to the meeting with my quilt guild. That was so nice. I had to be careful to order something that didn't need to be cut up! I'm pretty helpless with a knife still, and I really didn't want to have to ask someone to cut up my meal for me!

We had a one-day pottery sale at a local church's holiday boutique on the 7th, which went well. Our friend K came to help DH. I just hung around and talked to customers. It poured rain that day, but the boutique had an excellent turn-out, which was great.

I had a birthday last Wednesday, and it was pretty low-key this year, which was just fine with me! My new age ends with a 9, and the thought of entering another decade next year is kind of daunting. I told DS that now we're both middle-aged (just different ends of that spectrum), and I don't think he found it as amusing as I did! *grin* DS's birthday is the day before mine, and DD's birthday is the day after mine. I missed celebrating with her this year, but we'll do that when we visit her next.

Last Saturday we went to the Seattle Aquarium with DS and the DGDs to celebrate our birthdays. That was fun. The girls seemed to have a lot of fun, and we all really enjoyed seeing all the fish, and otters, and so on.

I'm progressing on the healing. The doctor is happy with my progress and has sent me to physical therapy, starting this past Monday. And I drove my car for the first time since my accident! My left arm doesn't help too much, so parking was a little challenging. The hardest parts are getting the seat belt on, the door closed, and then getting out of the car. But I did it, so that makes both me and DH happy. Before you know it, I'll be going grocery shopping all by myself. That will be a happy, happy day for my poor DH!

Here's a sneak peek of the selvage project I've started. It's not going anywhere soon though. . . I learned that there's more precision sewing involved than I can handle at the moment. So, it's on the shelf waiting for me to heal some more. Right now it's difficult to get my left arm up to the level of my sewing machine, but it is getting easier. Just not good enough for precision sewing yet.

Because the selvage project wasn't working for me, I thought and thought about what I could do. I finally went through some of my many boxes of projects already in-progress to see if I could find anything I could do. I knew I had to have something!

Well, I found a quilt kit all ready to put together! I forgot I had this. I had put this kit together to take to a quilt retreat with me last year. The 4-patches are already made, and the alternate blocks, borders and even binding are already cut and ready to go. Sweet!

But I kept looking. . . .

Then I found these. These are packets of 4 inch squares from Mr. B's Preview Pack Club (from Benartex) from a few? - God only knows how many - years ago. These are from before charm squares! (By the way, they're making them 5" now) So, I'm planning on making 9-patches with them to make into a Disappearing 9-Patch quilt. I've already made one 9-patch. I discovered that these are really cut at 4 1/4 inches squares, except for a few that aren't quite that big. So, this may be challenging.

I did some math and determined that I don't have enough squares to be quite big enough, so I tried cutting some scraps to go with the squares. It went pretty well! My arm is getting stronger, and my cutting table is a good height for my arm. I didn't do a lot at one time (I learned the hard way that I need to pace myself right now), but it seems like it's going to work alright.

Happiness!! I'm so happy that I have some things that I can work on, and that will work with my "broken wing". And the cats were very happy to have me back in the quilt studio. As a matter of fact, Shade is still in there sleeping!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Win and Some Experiments

Look what I won! Jill over at The Quilt Rat had a giveaway recently celebrating her one year anniversary in combo with her 100th post. I was lucky enough to win one of her gorgeous postcards! I love it! I'm continually impressed with her talent. If you haven't visited her blog, please go visit her. She does awesome work!

In my last post, I mentioned that my sister and I played during her visit with us. We played with fabric and dye. We set up tables etc. in the garage (due to cold and wet outside) and got messy! She had never tried anything like this, so she had a lot of fun.

I had found Rayna Gillman's book "Create Your Own Hand-Painted Cloth" at the library and wanted to try doing some monoprints. (You can see Rayna's work at her blog studio 78 notes)

Here are my monoprints. I'm not very happy with them. I'm not entirely sure why, but they just don't appeal to me. The one in the upper right in the photo I over-stamped with the spiral, and I like that better. I haven't decided if I'm going to try more of these again later or not. In the piece 2nd from the left, you may be able to see a leaf print. More on that below!

After the monoprints, I tried printing some texture plates. I think the one on the right is OK, but not the one on the left. My sister did some and her's came out great. Of course, I didn't get a photo of hers - duh!

Remember the monoprint that's the 2nd from the left in the 1st photo? I off-stamped some of the paint with the fern stamp onto the fabric that's on the left in the photo up above, because I didn't want to waste the paint. I liked that one, so I tried doing some more stamping. I tried the dragonflies first (middle fabric), then I did some more dragonflies and added the leaves in the piece on the right. I don't think the dragonflies on the 2nd one (with the leaves) came out all that well, but I like the leaves!

The next thing I tried was the bubble wrap (above on the left). That was fun, although I found that if I wasn't careful, it wiggled and I didn't get a good print. I also had to print my new stamp with the flowers. I'm pretty comfortable with stamping, as I've done it for years with cards. So, I tried the leaves, mixing the paints right on the stamp. I think this is the best piece to come out of these experiments, mostly because I think the whole piece works together. Although it's kind of predictable, maybe.

Here are my wipe-up fabrics. I always use another piece of fabric to wipe up the paints, because why waste all that lovely paint? I love the watercolor look of these. Often my wipers are the best fabrics I make. Maybe I should just do those!

Here is a stamped piece that my sister did. She didn't like it and I did, so she gave it to me. Also, here is another wipe-up piece.

So, I learned that I don't have to do fabric painting/dyeing in the summer outside, except for the fact that in the damp cold, it takes forever to dry. I also learned that monoprinting is harder than it looks. Some of these pieces may get over-dyed, because I think they're too stark with the white background. I think that may help them. So, not too successful an experiment, but I learned a lot. I guess that's not too bad.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy November!

Wow, fall has come to the Northwest. Matter of fact, it's almost over. I feel kinda like I missed most of it this year, being in the house so much of late. So, I got out and took some photos around the yard to document the end of October yesterday. You can see from this photo that we were having rain. Most of the Trick-or-Treaters were using umbrellas! It was pouring at times last night. You can also see lots of fir tree needles. We've had lots of wind the past week, and we've got fir needles everywhere. They're even sneaking into the house.

I've been quite absent from my blog, and the computer in general, as my sister was taking her vacation at our house this last week. She was here for 4 days, and we had a lot of fun. Spent only one day out (going to the pottery & glass supply place, a gallery for a pottery show, and out to Italian for dinner), and then the rest of the time we played. I'll show you what we did in a few days.

I brought out my autumn placemats yesterday, and then thought I would show them here. I made these with a charm pack about 2 years ago, which means this fabric probably isn't available any more. I had enough for 3 placemats, and used about 1/4 yard of fabric for the borders. So, with 2 charm packs and 1/2 yard or less of fabric, you could have 6 placemats.

I may make some more of these with another charm pack. They were a lot of fun to do and didn't take much time OR fabric. I have kind of a weakness for those darn charm packs. I don't usually have much of an idea of how I want to use them, but they're so cute (and such a cute idea) that I have trouble resisting the things. (pssst. . . . I think that's Moda's general plan with these pre-cuts!)

My sweet friends in California sent me some selvages this week! Thanks, guys!! There are a lot here. Now I need a plan of what to do with selvages!

Japanese Maple in foreground, neighbors' maple in background

I'll share some more photos of my yard while I ramble a bit here.

I'm feeling pretty good most of the time. I've been sewing some crumb blocks (more on those later). DH moved my machine to a lower table level and it's easier to reach the machine now. Still no rotary cutting. I'm going to have a cut-fest once the arm is better. *grin*

Japanese Maple in the front yard

That's the way it's going lately. I'm able to do more, and go longer between doses of Tylenol. Every once in a while I have a bad day or just overdo, but I figure I'm getting better. There's still lots I can't do by myself yet, like shower and dress, but it's getting better. Poor DH is still doing all the cooking and cleaning. I just can't reach the sink very well yet, nor lift anything. I'm not too effective at the whole housework thing yet, but I'm not complaining! *grin*

Hydrangea bloom

Isn't this a gorgeous color bloom?? This is the first year I've seen the hydrangea turn like this, and I love it!

I haven't tried driving yet. Just riding in the car is rather uncomfortable, and I have to wear the sling for comfort. I don't feel confident in my ability to steer the car well yet. So, it'll be awhile, I think. DH is really getting tired of going to the grocery store. . . . even if I go with him.

Here's the Japanese Maple in the backyard. It's usually a beautiful deep burgundy that you can still see in some places, but now the majority of the tree has turned a lighter red. It's even prettier when the sun is shining.

I'm still sleeping in the recliner in the family room. Sleeping in the bed is still too uncomfortable/painful on the arm. And I have to wear the sling to sleep, to support my arm. (I wear the sling whenever I'm sitting in a chair with no arm rest or support for any length of time.) The kitties are very happy to sleep on top of me and keep me warm. Fortunately, I usually only get one cat at a time!

Here's the grumpy gargoyle that lives in our back yard. He's not looking forward to winter, because he spent so much of it buried in snow last year. Of course, he usually looks unhappy, so I've learned to ignore him!