Monday, March 31, 2008

is it spring yet?

Blogger is being a PITA this morning -- won't let me add an April "goals" list, and was reluctant to give me the opportunity to add photos, too! And, it's telling me that "saving and publishing may fail". Great.

I've been casting about for ideas for the spring edition of the 4 Seasons Quilt Swap. My "partner" is someone whose blog I read regularly, so that only increases the pressure -- since I have no excuse for not knowing what sorts of things she likes! Anyway, I've had several plans already but I just hadn't gotten excited about any of them.

Yesterday, though, I was in the newest LQS trying to find another piece of a particular fabric to finish the setting triangles on a top (which none of the local shops have any more, so I ordered it from Tennessee Quilts). This shop is mostly catering to dressmakers -- tons of notions and trims and some lovely dress fabric -- but they also have a nice little selection of quilting cottons, including a lot of Alexander Henry designs. And I found this -- it's called "Mini Monroe", and it screamed "spring" to me!
I have no idea what I'm going to do with it yet, but at least I have a starting point!

This is my latest finish -- it's a 4-patch stack& whack that I blogged about sometime last year. Finally finished the quilting and binding. My local guild is participating in a project to send quilts to two groups in Africa, and this will go to them. One group is for women in Congo who are victims of violent rape; the other is for children with HIV and other diseases in Uganda.

Monday, March 24, 2008

and the winner is...

Something completely different! But man, are you ladies opinionated! You were unanimous in not liking the floral fabric, and split down the middle between the muted Asian print and the super-bright geometric. And I cut out lots of pieces of stuff and photographed about a dozen combinations but I just didn't like them up close and personal. The muted one faded into oblivion and the geometric would not settle down and behave itself.

Back into the stash, and out came some more things to try, including this bright but not outrageous stripy thing that allowed me to bring in more colors and lighten things up a bit. I did take Margaret's suggestion to put the center on-point and I think it turned out pretty nicely! I can't wait to see what the next person does to this... and what shows up in the mail for my next challenge.

Again -- thanks for all the input, even if I didn't use it! Every comment makes me think...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday miscellany

"Miscellany" pretty much describes it -- I'm feeling unfocused lately. Must be Spring!

Above is a picture of our orange tree. We're lucky enough to live in a citrus-friendly climate, and my back patio is sheltered by some high retaining walls, which makes it even better. The orange tree has probably been here for 30 years -- it produces a bumper crop every other year. This year we have exactly two fruits on the tree, but they're gigantic! These two babies are about 5" across... and just out of my reach. One of these days I'll get the step-ladder out...

On the other hand, the Meyer lemon tree produces masses of fruit every year, all year round. If you're not familiar with Meyers, they're an old cross between regular lemons and some kind of mandarin orange -- they're juicier and a little bit sweeter than a regular lemon, and they make dynamite lemon curd, lemonade and marmalade -- as well as all the other regular lemony things. I end up giving bags of them to my hairdresser, my boss, friends who don't have their own trees, strangers on the street. If you're in the area, come on by and pick a few!Bucky's enjoying spring, too, by rolling around on the dirty bricks and then transferring it all to my lap. Poor baby went for a checkup yesterday morning and we discovered he needs to have one tooth pulled ($$ yikes!$$) but he's just fine otherwise, and was very well behaved at the vet's office, even when the macaw in the next room started screaming!

On a quilty note, I'm still fussing about with the round robin -- thanks for all your comments! It helps that Margaret pointed out that it doesn't have to be a spring themed quilt; how did I miss that? I've made a few more Virgina Reel blocks for my Shakespeare in the Park quilt -- decided to get all the Reel blocks done before I start on the stars that go in between them. And I do want to try to fulfill my resolution to finish up some of the unquilted tops that are kicking around. If I keep reminding my self, and putting that in writing, will it actually happen?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

flinging spring

The cedar bath -- imagine climbing into an enormous tub of wood shavings, and imagine it's like a healthy compost bin that creates its own heat. It smells fresh and woody (and there aren't any worms!) You settle onto a bed of this stuff and someone comes in and covers you up with more of it. It's fluffy. You're warm and relaxed, staring out a large window into a garden. ZZZZZZZ. A little wierd, and definitely a chore to clean it off yourself afterwards, but I would go back in a heartbeat! (it's cedar and rice bran and a bunch of enzymes that make it heat itself up -- I want one in my backyard...)

Okay, quilty stuff:
I'm participating in the spring fling round robin, as noted earlier. I received a center to add the first border to, a couple of weeks ago, and I'm sorta stumped! It's a lovely center, but I'm just having a hard time getting "spring" out of this dark mariner's compass... so I'm taking a vote. I have three possibilities for your consideration. (I should mention that I'm thinking about a border on just two sides, with the compass ending up at the top-right corner.) The first one is sort of a sweet but not to sweet floral. I think it goes great, color-wise, but I think of this as more summer than spring.Next up is an Asian print -- again, the colors are okay, but I think this one gets lost next to the compass.

Finally, something quite different. And -- here's the full story. I was whining to Al last night about this dilemma; he didn't like either of my first two choices. He said "let's look at your fabric". I said "I don't know if I know you well enough to let you see my fabric!". (19 years is all...) He went in and rummaged around in the shelf with yellows, and dug this out from the bottom of the heap. Hmmm. What do you think?

And in other news... I finished my orange socks! The camera seems to want to make them fluorescent -- they're really not. The second one went amazingly fast. I think my next pair are going to be Jaywalkers; I just need to decide what yarn is coming out of the stash to make them.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

and the winner is...

Pam, of Pam's Pages!

Pam, please send me your snail-mail address, 'cause I haven't figured out how to email things made of cloth yet...

And thanks to all of you who left comments for the first time -- I found a bunch of new and wonderful people to add to my bloglist this week!

And thanks, of course, to my regular correspondents -- I feel like there's a real community out there in quilt-and-knit-land and we need to have a big party one of these days!

Friday, March 14, 2008

anniversary update

I forgot that I'm going to be out of town on my bloggiversary, so I can't do the drawing on the 15th... it will be on the 16th instead. You still have a day to leave a comment and have a chance at the Frenchy Bag!

For Christmas this last year, I bought Al and me a gift card for a visit to this very Zen spa on the Sonoma County coast for a bath in hot cedar chips (go figure!) and a massage. It's taken us all this time to find a weekend to go up there, but we're going to spend a little of the bonus he just got on a nice hotel room and a great dinner. I can't wait!

Today I received the last two blocks from a birthday block swap I participate in each year. I think I posted a photo of my focus fabric last September after we got back from Hawaii. The fabric reminded me of lava and other Hawaiian colors. So, here are all my blocks:
I'm cheerfully accepting all suggestions as to how to set these in an interesting way -- I'm tired of the standard sashing-and-cornerpost routine! There's some almost black or very dark purple in the focus fabric, so I'm thinking about using that somehow.

Happy Friday!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday Miscellany

Hurrah! I finally made niece Ivy's 5th birthday present, and it's only 6 weeks after her birthday. I was going to send her the baby alligator scarf from a few posts back, but I'm bored with it, and it's not done, and it's getting too warm to wear it anyway... I think it will be put aside for next Christmas instead. This is one of those Four Corners aprons from Vanilla House, that everyone seems to be making. The fabric came from my stash. Ivy is a real girly-girl, so I think the pink will fit right into her "lifestyle"!
Here's my current sock-knitting project -- I found this Regia yarn in London and couldn't resist. It' s the first time I've tried fingering weight yarn; the socks are definitely less bulky than my first pair, although they still look "floppy" when they're not on my feet. I haven't learned how to take nice sock-photos, I guess. Also, this is my first sock with Kitchener grafted toes (not that hard, really!) and without a hole at the corner where the gusset and heel come together. I am almost down to the heel on the second sock... and of course I now have about 6 more skeins lined up for more socks!
Don't forget to comment this week if you want to be in the drawing for my Frenchy Bag anniversary give-away! It's a lot of fun to see who's reading the blog, and I've discovered a few "new" bloggers to add to my own bloglines list.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Anniversary Contest!

It's almost spring, daylight savings time starts this weekend, and it's coming up on my Second Blogiversary! So it must be time to celebrate with a contest.

You may recall that I just finished making a Frenchy Bag, and that I was trying to make it just the right size for my assortment of stuff... well, it's a lovely purse, and the pockets don't flap around -- but it just isn't quite big enough for my wallet, blackberry, checkbook, 2 pairs of glasses, and all the other things that accumulate. So, I'm going to do a drawing and give it away to a blog-reader.
This does mean that you have to come out of lurkdom and leave me a comment sometime in the next week! My actual blogiversary is March 15, so I'll do a random-number thing and announce a winner that evening (Pacific Daylight Time!)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

spring is on the way

Probably a lot of you read Ami Simms' newsletter; in case you don't here is a wonderful link she published:

This will give you a black screen. Click your mouse anywhere and everywhere on the screen, and/or hold down the mouse button and scroll around the screen.

Instant Spring for those of you in cold climates!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

my seven things

I think everyone in blogland has done this meme except me, and damnit, I have at least seven weird and/or random things going on, so why not? I forget the exact rules, so I'm just going to wing it!

1) I used to play the bassoon (badly) when I was in college. And, it turned out that my husband used to play the bassoon, too -- way before I met him. Karma, right? (p.s. that's Mozart's Bassoon concerto playing in my music set)

2) I'm left handed, but I can do almost everything right-handed. And I can read upside down, which I understand is a left-handed talent.

3) I used to take improvisational acting classes -- scary at first, and then fun! It made me realize that I can get through just about every situation and talk to anyone, despite being something of an introvert.

4) My first job (other than babysitting) was at a drugstore soda fountain -- it was the old-fashioned kind, where we made sodas with syrup and soda water; customers told me I made the best chocolate milkshakes in Berkeley!

5) I'm pretty much scared of heights. I especially hate restaurants at the tops of tall buildings -- it just seems un-natural to eat dinner 52 stories up! and I basically lose my appetite. (hmmm -- a new wight-loss scheme for acrophobics!)

6) I think there's something strange about people who don't have any books in their house. I've met a few of these folks over the years...

7) I'm a grammar snob. I used to write a column in my company newsletter called "Grandma Grammar" -- even though I'm not a grandma -- because I really notice when people make silly mistakes in business writing, and why did no one pay attention, anyway? Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss is one of my favorite books...

If you haven't done this meme yet, you're tagged! List seven weird or random things about yourself, and leave me a message to let me know you've done it.


Clunk is the sound my Pfaff made just before it stopped working. I was merrily stitching along, didn't hit any pins, didn't do anything obviously wrong -- and a minute later the thing is totally jammed and the wheel won't turn. Now it's in the shop with 50 machines ahead of it in line to be fixed! There must be a plague going around...

I've just finished my second Frenchy Bag. The first one I made was the "shoulder bag" version, and I decided it was just a bit too big for everyday use. But I thought the "regular" version might be a little too small for all the crap stuff I carry around, so I made it about an inch bigger all around.

The other thing that really bugs me about the first bag is the way the inside pockets flop around, so you never really know where you're putting things. So this time I stitched down the middle of each pocket to divide it into smaller spaces and prevent it from sagging open -- note the line of stitching down the middle of this photo:
I can't wait to load it up and take it for a stroll.

I recently added some music to the blog, just to see if I could figure out how to do it. I'm not sure if it's totally annoying or not -- please let me know!