Monday, April 23, 2007

embellished

Did I mention that my sister was visiting from Down Under for a few weeks? My sister is crazy-creative. She learns the rules, and then quickly embarks on ignoring-twisting-changing them. She does some quilting, knitting, weaving, needle felting, and bead-making. One of her current obsessions is "created fabric" and embellished purses -- here's one from a few months ago:

So, of course it was a treat to have her do a workshop for one of my mini-groups yesterday! We had rounded up a bunch of different organza, lame', and metallic netting; a bunch of metallic threads, and some sequin yarn. Basically, she had us put a piece of base fabric on top of interfacing and stabilizer, stitch around the edge to hold it all together, and then start playing with the fun fabrics and the decorative stitches on our machines that we never know what to do with. What a blast! This red one is mine -- I've since added some more threadwork in black rayon.
This black one is Kathleen's.
This is Catherine's -- she decided to use the off-cut of black organza from my black leaves...
And this last one is Kristi's. She did a lot of snippets of gold lame' under a single layer of blue organza. I think this one will end up being a purse. I love how we all had the same stuff to work with and yet out results were so different!

Monday, April 16, 2007

coming up roses

First things first -- here's the FABULOUS quilt ladder that's been in the works for a while. This is one-half of a huge old ugly ladder that we found in the back yard of a friend's new house. We cut it in half and brought it home, sanded for a long time, added 5 coats of varathane, and voila! It doesn't have a final resting place yet, but hubby Al set it up in the dining room before leaving for a 10-day business trip. (if you look closely, that's a picture of Al on the side table -- which is actually an old cast-iron Singer) Al did a job transition recently, which prompted us to change health insurance plans -- we'd been paying our own way with an HMO for a few years and now we have a corporate PPO. This saves us about $500/month, which isn't too shabby. It did require finding new doctors, though -- what a tough process! I got recommendations from a few friends: one isn't in our plan, one isn't taking new patients, one asked a bunch of personal questions and then took 3 weeks to decide whether she'd accept me as a patient (with the first appointment being available in July!).
So instead I looked at the list provided by the plan -- decided my doc had to be female and near my age or older. I wanted someone who might have actually experienced a hot flash or two! I picked one of the two or three who fit these requirements and was warmly accepted by the receptionist with an appointment within a couple of weeks. I met my new doctor this morning and it was such a pleasant experience -- she asked lots of questions, listened to me, and had a sense of humor, too! Now I just hope she doesn't decide to retire anytime soon...

I'll close out with a few more garden pictures, just because I'm loving my new camera so much. Here's a "Golden Wings" rose, which is going bananas this spring:
This is the bane of my rosy existence: a rose curculio... that little red bug. These show up every year on just a couple of the bushes; they damage the buds of new flowers. Sometimes I stand around with a container of sudsy water and try to catch as many as possible, but I always miss some. And, they have the annoying habit of dropping off onto the ground as soon as you get close!
Finally, here's Ingrid Bergman, one of the loveliest of the dark red varieties. Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

tiny update

right after I posted the photo of my stack & whack fabric, I picked up the new issue of "Down Under Quilts" that my sister brought me from Tasmania -- and there on the cover was my fabric, made into a wonky 4-patch quilt by Carolyn Davis! Serendipity! Here's a link to the cover photo -- I don't think they show a bigger picture of it on their website. The fabric definitely lends itself to slicing and dicing even though it's such a large print. There's some interesting shape in each piece.

New Camera Bliss!

I went to Best Buy this morning -- bit the bullet and bought a new digital camera. It's a Canon A560. It came with about 500 pages of manuals (as if...) but I've managed to get it up and running, took a few pictures, loaded the software, downloaded the pictures... it all works! It will take me months or years to figure out what all the little icons mean but so what?

Anyway, someone asked for a picture of the original fabric that I cut up to make the 4-patch stack & whack, so here it is -- it's from Free Spirit, and I found it on the half-price table at one of my favorite local stores (Stone Mountain in Berkeley, which always has a huge selection of half-price goods) And here's something else I've been up to. In her book Color from the Heart, Gai Perry has an exercise doing postage stamp quilts with a group. One of my mini-groups did this with only 3 people, about 4 years ago -- this was my resulting quilt:
We decided to do it again recently, this time with 5 people, and here's my new quilt:
The deal is that each person cuts 4 small squares from each of 30 fabrics. You keep two squares of each for yourself and the other two go into a basket which gets passed around the group. So -- each person picks 60 squares from the communal basket. Then -- the hard part -- you put all your squares in a bag and pull them out one at a time and arrange them in order on your flannel board, and sew them together in that order! We only allowed ourselves to put a square back if it matched the one right next to it, and to make one switch once everything was on the board.

Everyone ends up with a similar-but-not-identical set of fabrics, and then of course the borders make them look completely unique. It's a fun project, and I recommend it highly for a small group!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

a little catching up

Follow ups to a couple of previous posts...

I did finally order a new USB cable for the camera... and it doesn't work! It appears that I didn't mess up the cable after all -- I messed up the USB socket in the camera. Very disturbing. I'm checking to see if it's something that can be fixed easily; otherwise I'll be looking for a new camera. This one is a Sony -- probably about 6-8 years old and cost a fortune. If I buy a new one, I want it to be little, and way less expensive. Do you have a digital camera you like? If so, tell me about it!

The quilt ladder is coming along, finally. It sat waiting to be sanded for weeks, but has now progressed to the point of having a second coat of varathane applied. I'll post a photo once it's loaded with quilts!

Finally, my sister who lives in Tasmania is arriving for a long visit tomorrow, so I'm desperately trying to un-clutter the guest-room/quilt room enough to unfold the futon bed and give her space to move around. Of course we're in the middle of a big bathroom remodel at the moment -- enlarging the master bath and updating the guest bath simultaneously (crazy us!) and so hubby and sis and I will be sharing the toilet and shower in the guest bath and the kitchen sink, for the duration.

More soon -- with photos!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

more spring!

Here's a springy little project I started last weekend -- this is a 4-patch stack & whack, and all the blocks were made in an afternoon (including a break for coffee and strawberry shortcake!) I'm thinking about the bright yellow sashing with dark blue cornerstones, or maybe a dark blue and yellow three-rail sashing... but I'm not sure if that will be too busy-looking. Shelina wrote about this kind of stack & whack here; one of my mini-groups decided to try this because we had recently seen a lovely example at a local guild show. Here are two more sets of
blocks done by Catherine and Kathleen:


And here are some gratuitous flower photos! My garden is a big mess, but I consoled myself yesterday by wandering around and finding some nice blooms amid the chaos. This is some sort of fancy iris that appeared a few years ago -- does anyone know what it's called?
This is a Mutabilis rose -- one of my favorites. It changes from pink to pale pink, to creamy white over a period of time. It's very happy in a somewhat shady space under the arbor, and nothing seems to eat it!
Here are the blueberry bushes with lots of flowers (yum!) surrounded by the Spanish bluebells that refuse to be vanquished. I pull out dozens of the bulbs every year but they're everywhere...
Finally, this is called Boronia; it's Brazilian, I think, and is growing on an old iron window-grate that leans against a wall. It really brightens up the back corner of the patio. Each stem of the vine comes up individually from the ground and produces one spray of flowers -- and it keeps producing new stems through most of the year.