Archive for January, 2013

I have been very very busy since my last post.   So busy, in fact, that my dear husband asked me last night rather plaintively if possibly I might be done sewing for the day.   I think he was tired of trying to hear Rachel Maddow over the buzz of the sewing machine.

But progress has been made.   Observe:


Yes indeed, children.   All the blocks are now created.  Just in case you don’t “get” it, I will just point out to you that there is a block for every letter of the alphabet, these appear in clockwise order around the outside of the quilt.   Then there are the numbers and shapes, which will do double duty helping illustrate the major colors.   There are a few extras in there too, just for fun.

There will be a thin sash between each block, which I have yet to even start cutting.   It is a sage green with tiny pink flowers in it.   It will also surround the quilt body and separate it from the borders, and the same fabric will be used for the binding.

There will be a one inch white border, which is destined to have the atomic symbols quilted into it, then a 1/2″ crazy border, which is created from numerous small pieces of fabric sewn together, and then the final border will be 1 1/2″ of alphabet.

I may or may not put each block’s descriptive word on the pale green “window sill” in either embroidery or fabric paint.   I haven’t decided yet.   It may make the quilt, which is already quite busy, a little too busy.   I don’t know.   I DO know that once I start putting words on, I will have to put them ALL on, and there is no going back.  I am not interested in cutting and sewing all those blocks again, although I suppose if I started the labeling process and didn’t like it I could just replace the pale green sills.

The meticulousness with which I am approaching the last border is a credit to my obsessive compulsive streak.   I cut all the pieces for the border and stitched them together as they lay.  Then when I started pressing the seams open I realized that I did not like the haphazard way the pattern was emerging from this treatment.   So I took all those seams out, all 60 of them, which really wasn’t that hard since they were only 2″ long.   Now I am sewing them back together again, while matching the pattern lines more carefully.

So, the finding of the fabric for this quilt was a lot of fun.   I went to the fabric stores with my niece, who helped me find some of the very cool fabrics that illustrate some of the letters.

My older sister, who also is an amazing quilter, sent me a care package with beautiful fabrics in it, including some of the crazy border and a lovely Kokopelli, who is appliqued onto the block next to the giraffe block.   As soon as I opened the box, F was suddenly for “frog” rather than “fox” due to the fabulousness of the rainforest frog fabric.  There were a lot of fabrics that I didn’t need for this project, but I’m sure I’ll find a use for them later.

Mostly I was pretty set on what image I wanted for each letter.  I was bound and determined that D was going to be for dragon.   I had resigned myself to dragonfly since there were no dragons to be had anywhere, when I got a call from one of my friends who was at a fabric store in Columbia.

“I found you a dragon,” she sang into the phone.   While she was on the phone, she measured the image and told me what size it was.   It sounded right, so she bought it and brought it to me, and then wouldn’t even let me pay for it.    This is a most awesome dragon, courtesy of Judy Gibson.


The letter I had the most trouble finding an image for was, of course, X.   Jim suggested “X marks the spot” and just applique a big X on a block.   I looked in the dictionary last night, in hopes of inspiration.   “Xyst” is not a term that spring readily to mind when you see a nice garden walk lined with trees.   “X-ray” is a concept that is hard to get across without getting pretty silly.   “Xeric” or “xeriscape” could have been shown with a nice desert scene, and I was contemplating this.

I really wanted a xylophone.   I had an image on a fabric, but it was so small and insignificant.  So, this morning I woke up and said to myself, “I have permanent markers.   I can draw this myself.”    So I did.


I think it turned out rather well, actually.

So, I’m off to dust my massage room and put together another batch of lemon marmalade.

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So, life has its surreal moments.    I was not equipped with my camera when I took Ruby for her walk the other afternoon following the mini ice storm.  It was too darn cold; by the time I saw anything worth photographing, the batteries in the camera would have been so cold that it would have refused to function.

Consequently, the amazing beauty I saw as the sun was slanting down that afternoon will have to remain in my mind.   It was a mini ice storm, just enough freezing rain to glaze everything, to make little drops on all the branches that looked like tiny christmas ornaments adorning every tree and shrub.   After the freezing rain, there was supposed to be sleet but it didn’t hit our area.   In the meadows, the grasses were glazed with a thin coating of ice, enough to give them sheen but such a light dose that they did not fall down flat to the ground under the weight.

Off in the corner of the field I was walking around was a stand of sorgastrum, its tall heads were bending in gentle arcs, all glazed with ice.   As I walked past, the sun angle reached the magical spot and every arch of grass turned into a rainbow of color right before my eyes as the ice refracted the light to me.



I really have the best husband in the world.   He tolerates without grumbling the fact that my quilting exercises have pretty much taken over half the dining room:




What you are seeing here are the beginnings of fabrication of the baby quilt.   I got my numbers cut out last night, now I have to applique them to the color blocks.   In the first picture, you are seeing our dining room table.  Uppermost in the stack of squares you see is “A is for ant.”   I have all the letters except V and X, and they are coming.

Meanwhile, I am not committed to some of my letters.   “J is for jungle” is pretty good, but there might be something better.   So I Googled “J is for” this morning, and found lots of examples:   Jet, jam, jelly, jellyfish, journey, jump, joy, etc.   The last three might be concepts a bit difficult to portray.   But the surreal one was far down the image set on Google:  “J is for junkie” accompanying a bedraggled soul actually shooting up.   Disturbing.

The quilt has been quite the topic of conversation around here.   My niece went with me to the fabric stores and observed that when I get surrounded by lots of fabric and imagery I get what she calls “fabric brain” and what I would call “fabric induced attention deficit disorder”.   She really was a lot of help to me in finding some of the very cute fabrics that are going to be featured in my alphabet.   My older sister is contributing too, so it is really a family effort.

Jim is actually quite a good resource in this endeavor, giving me some very good ideas.   So last night, as we were settling down in bed on our way to sleep I was talking about the quilt a little bit (not doing that thing with my mouth… but the Other Thing: talking…)  Anyway, we got a tad silly and he suggested that Y could be for Yttrium.  When I pointed out that it might be hard to find an image that screamed “Yttrium” to the poor parents who are going to be playing the Naming Game with their baby, he then said “Well, you could just put on the whole periodic table of elements.”   I declined to do that, and then he went on and said that later on in the child’s life I could do a needlework project of the periodic table.

Do you think he was being sarcastic?    I don’t.

Anyway, I pointed out that it might be more to the point for the CHILD to do the needlework project as that would give it the opportunity to really learn her (his?) periodic chart.

But the upshot of the whole discussion was that we realized that the list of Atomic Symbols of the elements could be used somehow in that quilt, a subtle thing.    And it is going to be used, too.   When I quilt the first border, which is going to be a plain fabric, I intend to do the list of elements in order of atomic number.   It is exactly the right size to give each element about an inch and a half of space for its symbol.   I think this is very cool.

And this is the sort of pillow talk we engage in.   Then I did that thing with my mouth and stopped talking.


As I work on this quilt, I realize that there are plenty of images that could be multiples.   Like the image of the horses.   That could also be P is for pony or C is for colt or F is for foal.

While we were discussing J today, Jim came up with J is for jonquil.   Now this is just a dandy idea, but I can see the poor people looking at my quilt and wondering why J is for daffodil.   You could put the same image under N is for Narcissus and create the same confusion.

I’m really trying not to be TOO subtle here.   Maybe later.


This year on Jim’s birthday one of our friends presented him with the butternut squash to end all butternut squashes.   Today he cut it open and it is roasting as we speak.   I believe it is going to be featured prominently in our dinner tonight.



For your information, that is a french chef’s knife with an 8 inch blade.   We are saving some seeds to see what comes up next year.

And so, life goes on its merry way.    Hope your surreal things are beautiful and tasty too.

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We have an email friend whom we met on a cruise.   Nice old fellow, who loves to forward funny stuff.   I think he doesn’t have enough to do, he spends a lot of time on the interwebs.   Sometimes he sends collections of wonderful photos.   The other day he sent us some funnies.

I guess it depends on your funny bone, some aren’t as funny as others.

I liked:   I was taught to respect my elders but it is getting harder to find one.

Also:  God created man before woman so man would have time to think of the answer to her first question.

Then this one made me laugh, but made my mother not laugh:

A man and a woman are in bed, lights out.    The woman asks:   “Honey, do I please you in bed?”   The man, no dummy, replies, “Or course you do, dear.”   She thinks a minute, then asks, “So what is it that pleases you?”   “Oh, lots of things, honey.   I especially like that thing you do with your mouth.”   “That thing I do with my mouth?”  she asks, puzzled.   “Yes.  You know, where you stop talking and go to sleep…”  This made me laugh because for some reason, lying down in bed and turning the lights off often makes me think of something that we wanted to talk about…

Then my particular favorite:

Answering machine message,
“I am not available right now,
but thank you for caring enough to call.
I am making some changes in my life.
Please leave a message after the beep.
If I do not return your call,
you are one of the changes.”

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I’m so glad that the mini ice storm we had yesterday was just that, very mini.   It is so odd to go outside and hear the trees rattling in the breeze.  It all sounds so different, but NOTHING like the last time when we felt like we were listening to the war as the trees cracked and broke and smashed to the ground.

Instead, the string of LED lights we have on the back porch provided us with something stunning to look out in the early morning.


It’s really hard to photograph such bright lights in the dawn’s early light.   But you can see how the little icicles that formed on the string pick up the glow of light from the light they are hanging off.   So very very cool.   I think that this is the effect that the “icicle lights” would like to give and don’t.

By the way, I hasten to explain that these are not Christmas decorations in this application.   Many years ago we discovered that if we strung mini lights up around the back porch they were even more effective than a bug light as a porch light.   Each individual light is small enough that it doesn’t attract swarms of bugs.   They are all away from the door.   So when you go out at night, you get plenty of illumination and you don’t have 900,000 moths and mosquitoes following you in.

I have had a most amusing morning indeed.   My email contained numerous items that made me laugh heartily.   Laughter is always good.   Jim is watching the 49ers game, which he does not know how turns out (although I do)(Tee hee).   I am completing a couple of potholders I created a couple of days ago and then I will address myself to the little quilted piece I made yesterday in my quilting class.  It needs to be backed, quilted and bound.  Later on we will go visit some of our good friends and Jim will learn to smoke cheese and we and the group of people we are spending the afternoon with will have a very good time.

May all your ice storms be small and beautiful, and may your day be amusing and pleasant.


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Fun with fabric

It is no secret that I have always been attracted to collage.   And it is also not a secret that I give my sewing machine a workout on a regular basis.   I may not have mentioned previously that making quilts was a thing that my mother has done ever since I can remember, and we were often involved in the activity.

She made quilts for all of us when we moved to Colorado, a necessity due to the aged and infirm house we lived in.  Mine was a “Rob Peter to Pay Paul” and I helped her piece it.   My older sister’s was a Lone Star quilt, and at present that quilt resides here now for some arcane reason which I do not remember.

My regular readers will also recall that I recently made a quilt for our bedroom, which turned out even more beautiful than I had imagined it would be.  That really got me going, actually.   I’m in the process of thinking about a baby quilt for our new grandchild, who is now big enough to have been sonogrammed.   (Is that a word?)  I’m also thinking about a quilt for its parents as well.   At Christmas time I made a few sets of place mats and napkins using the bargello technique.  If I say so myself, they turned out very nicely.

I recently made an impulse purchase of a book on a quilt piecing technique called “Stack and Whack.”   I was moved to do this because of the amazing example of it hanging on the wall of the fabric store I frequent.    So last night I tried it out.   The book has a few deficiencies, the instructions are unclear and often leave out critical measuring steps.   But after wasting a couple of stacks of pieces, I made two quilt blocks using this technique.   I am enthralled.



Here’s the real kicker.   Both of those squares were created from the same fabric source.   Yes, I did use different background fabric for both of them, but the diamonds came from this fabric:


I honestly find it amazing that two such different squares arose from the same fabric source.

I really love this.  It is really just another form of collage using fabric rather than paper.

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