Sunday, December 31, 2006

ABCs of Me Meme

I found it on Rissa's blog and couldn't resist.

A- Available or single? Currently both ... and yes, I agree, this question doesn't make sense

B- Best Friend? Diane. Our paths first crossed in an online-swap-from-hell years ago and we've stuck.

C- Cake or Pie? Pie--cool key lime or warm apple pie a la mode, depending on my mood and the season.

D- Drink of Choice? Fresh fruit juice. (I love my juicer).

E- Essential Item? Call me a geek, but I have to admit, it's my laptop.

F- Favorite Color? It changes all the time ... these days it's a shade of blue-leaning-toward-turquoise.

G- Gummi Bears or Worms? Ugh, thanks but no thanks.

H- Hometown? I'm too much of a tumbleweed ... I don't think I have one.

I- Indulgence? Ben & Jerry.

J- January or February? February--it's short and once you get through it, it's almost Spring.

K- Kids and names? No kids, just cats. Grace Hopper and Johnny.

L- Life is incomplete without? Art. It inspires and makes us think.

M- Marriage Date? 10/12/1978 (Columbus day)

N- Number of Siblings? Three: two brothers and a baby sister.

O- Oranges or apples? Apples. One of the great things about being back in Michigan is Michigan apples.

P- Phobias/Fears? Since the accident, I am fearful of another distracted driver plowing into me when stopped at red lights.

Q- Favorite Quote? Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. -William Morris

R- Reason to Smile? Who couldn't smile when these two look up at you?

S- Season? I have lived on both coasts, Texas, France and here in Michigan. I think Fall is the perfect season just about everywhere.

T- Tag three people! I hate to tag people, but I think Debra, Suze and Jane Ann are too nice to say no ...

U- Unknown Fact About Me? My weight ... and I'm gonna keep it that way--though I admire the ladies over on the Quilters' Lounge who are providing full disclosure.

V- Vegetable you hate? I haven't met a vegetable yet that I didn't like.

W- Worst habit? I talk too much.

X- X-Rays you’ve had? Too many since I've moved to Michigan, but most recently, it was a C-spine series, to makes sure I was simply shaken and not broken.

Y- Your favorite food? Salmon. I could probably eat it every day and never tire of it.

Z- Zodiac? Scorpio. Oooh, scary huh?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Community Quilting

Yesterday I spent the day with friends from my small group, creating tops for Quilts of Valor. Blocks were laid out on the pool table and floor.
Arranging blocks on the pool table
Settings were designed, fabrics auditioned for alternate squares or sashing and ... before we knew it we had pieced 7 tops and backs which two longarmers in the group will turn into Quilts of Valor ... and we'll be binding lots-0-quilts soon. Here's the finished top, made from some Swappers Star swap blocks that I contributed to the cause.
top #4
We also finished two WIPs for fundraising quilts--one for the guild and one for cancer research. I think we were all impressed with what we were able to achieve in a single day.

More on Book Tower

Book Tower

Jane Ann commented that there is a much larger version of the Kubach-Wilmsen Book Tower in Nashville. This one is 10-to-12 feet high, probably too large to have been a maquette for its big brother at the Nashville Public Library. I went back and looked at the photo I'd taken of the label for the piece and learned that the couple known collectively as Kubach-Wilsen are noted for their carved stone stone sculptures of varied scale and stone from quarries worldwide. I let my fingers walk over to google and found an even smaller example in the collection of Art Enterprises Limited. It consists of 7 miniature stone books and is only 4" by 12" x 18".

Friday, December 29, 2006

Play Day

Christmas and Holiday Traditions

Saturday, I met a friend at the Frederick Meijer Gardens. I know what you're thinking ... gardens? in winter? in western Michigan? They have several galleries and environments indoors and each year, about this time, they celebrate Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World.

There are trees decorated to represent the traditions of many countries. I loved the very colorful Mexico tree (and thought Debra would, too.)

Mexico tree knitted sheep ornament

One of my personal favorites was this very small knitted black sheep ornament on the Peru tree.

Security Guard pushes us to build an Arch

We wandered into the Sculpture learning center and were encouraged to build an arch by the security guard.

We rose to the occaision ... and ... Tada! Success!

Completed Arch

A sign there said that All sculpture are made of line, shape, form, color, texture and space ... I thought the same could be said of quilts. Speaking of quilts, when Amy and I saw this marble sculpture by Wolfgang Kubach and Anna Maria Kubach-Wilmsen, we saw fabric bolts ... what do you see?

Book Tower

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Two holiday cardsI was dreaming of a white Christmas when I made these fiber postcards for the Holiday Postcard swap on the Art Quilts forum. I'd been wanting to play more with free motion bobbinwork and drew the trees on my snowy landscapes with free motion zig zag.

Christmas Eve Goose
Christmas here in the middle of the mitten state is anything but white, however.

The sun is shining, the grass is green and the temperatures are reaching into the 50s. The pond has thawed again. I woke to the sound of six-teen geese a-honking as they circled and came in for a landing.

It will, at least, make the drive over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house to celebrate the holiday with family a lot less treacherous than usual. Wherever you are and whatever the weather, I wish everyone a joyous holiday.

FYI, you can see the wonderful holiday postcards I received on my other blog, Blocks-n-Swaps, in the post, Seasons Greetings.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Why There's No Tree at My House

This isn't one of my cats, it's from the collection of holiday pet photos on, but it perfectly illustrates the reason I've resisted putting up a tree. Consider that I have two energetic young cats and lots of special glass ornaments and you'll know why I decided not to risk it this year.

There's also the issue of the physicality of pulling out all the stuff and putting up a tree. This weekend I skipped my meds to see how I'd feel without them and the answer is ... like I've been hit by a truck. How come the older we get, the slower we seem to heal? I'm so impatient with this 50-year old body of mine.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

An Unexpected Day

A friend and I got up early on Saturday morning to head for Holly, Michigan and their annual Run Like the Dickens 5K race and walk. The temperatures were only in the 20s and it was windy. For me, it was really more of a stroll than a race of any kind. The path went through neighborhoods where people blasted Christmas carols from their homes for the participants, passed briefly through downtown and then looped back to the school gym.

After the walk, I passed on the cookies provided--our plan was to head to Somerset, a shopping mecca in the Detroit suburbs, have a nice lunch and shop 'til we dropped. We had our destination in sight and were talking about parking and lunch options while we waited at a traffic light ... and someone in a big commercial van plowed into the back of my friend's jeep. There was no warning, no squeal of brakes--I don't think he braked at all--before he hit us hard, propelled us ahead into the car in front of us then caught up with us and hit us again. Three ambulances, two patrol cars, two tow trucks and maybe 3o minutes later, we were on our way to the emergency room--my friend in a collar and strapped to a backboard, me, feeling like a bag lady carrying as much of the stuff from her jeep as I could grab before they towed it away. She spent the hours (and hours) at the hospital wondering if she should have refused care at the scene and signed the waiver like I did; I spent the time thinking that she was doing the prudent thing and I was being stupid. I'll be calling my doctor tomorrow ... besides all the understandable aches and pains, it hurts to breath and I'm wondering if I could have cracked a rib or something ...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Happy Birthday Debra

In honor of Debra's birthday today, I suspended disbelief, crossed my fingers and ... made the leap to beta blogger :-)

I hope you enjoy your special day.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Endless Star Blocks

The last time I had my Stretched Star blocks on the wall, I decided I needed more. So I made some.

endless star blocks

The number of blocks has gone from 16 (from the swap) to 20 to these 30 ... now, I've decided that I don't like these proportions and need to make more to either make it square or make a longer rectangle ...

I probably would have made those blocks and this project would be a top by now if I'd not been distracted by an antique block being discussed in the Handpiecing folder on the Quilting forum and Becky's idea about how it could be pieced seminole fashion. Of course I had to try it ...

Strip-pieced North Point Compass

I love that it has 21 points. You can see some great (finished!) examples of this block in the discussion about the North Point Compass.

My last work in progress of the week is my progress toward beta blogger ... I finally was able to get myself removed from a Team Blog that was long abandoned after a knit-a-long finished almost a year ago. Since Team blogs are not yet supported by beta blogger, if you're a member of one, you won't see the options to move to Beta. You can't remove yourself from a team blog and, until a couple days ago, I couldn't get a response from the owner. It was a blogger catch-22. Now, I'm ready to LEAP ... and trust that the NET will appear. (Cross your fingers for me).

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Blue Ridge Quiltfest

Imagine this dining room--with it's wonderful mountain views and all that light--filled with quilters ... and you'll have an idea of what it could look like during the Blue Ridge Quiltfest, a gathering of online quilters being planned for March 22-25, 2007 by Janet Wickell, the Quilting guide on

The venue will be the Pisgah Inn, a charming, historic inn in the Blue Ridge mountains that is opening a week early so we can fill it with quilters. Details will be available soon, but attendees can look forward to something like:
  • A few options for excursions for Friday (for people who want to come a day early) like a trip to shop at the famous Mary Jane's (quilt shop) or to tour the famous Biltmore Estate
  • Some class or quilting options (probably on Saturday) -- hopefully some taught by forum members, but probably also a "name" or two.
  • Some sort of entertainment one evening
  • Some sort of challenge for participants
  • A quilt show of our quilts
  • Lots of opportunities to quilt and chat together ;-)
We'll have the place to ourselves, so a quilting pajama party is also a real possibility.

I fell in love with the area when I visited one of my brothers while he was attending college there . I'm definitely planning on a return trip for the FIRST annual Blueridge Quiltfest. Anyone want to join me?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Winter Arrives

Many of my neighbors spent last weekend putting up their lights and holiday decorations ... Mother Nature waited until today to do her decorating in Michigan.

Despite an ice storm that lasted the night and that turned everything into sparkling popsicle versions of trees and cars and roads and the snow that fell steadily all day, the roads weren't too treacherous.

little tree Along the street

I enjoyed the frosted scenery and white-on-white landscape on the drive home from work this afternoon.

I confess that I have not yet decorated for the holidays ... nor even put away the patio furniture ... after all, we've been celebrating a November that felt more like spring. (I wish I had, at least, put the furniture into storage.)

patio under snow

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Due to Technical Difficulties ...

My laptop didn't want to talk to my wireless modem yesterday so I couldn't post on WIP Wednesday.

I smiled last week at Rian's comment of the old-fashioned look of my sampler in progress because it is exactly what I'm going for with this one. I consciously chose toned down medium values for the blocks--since these are not the fabrics that normally attract me, I thought it was a good way to stash bust, too.

Putting the blocks on the wall last week, inspired me to make more and to edit out a couple that weren't working ...

yellow sampler blocks

orange sampler blocks

red sampler blocks

purple sampler blocks

blue sampler blockw

Anyone who has been making lotto blocks may recognize most of these and wonder what happened to Hope of Hartford and That 30's Thing. The latter, a paper pieced block, just didn't seem to have that old-fashioned feeling (despite it's name). My attempt at Hope of Hartford was too contrasty and ended up being added to the reject pile, along with my first Broken Arrows block--rejected because the blue-violet color felt wrong.

reject sampler blocks

It feels like progress even though I still need a bunch more of the alternate blocks.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sampler in Progress

16 months ago, I re-started the monthly block lotto. Along the way, I made an extra block for me with plans for a sampler quilt. I decided on an alternate block and made some of those, too, but somewhere along the way, I stopped making time for it and my sampler quilt stalled.

Lotto Blocks sampler

I also had plans for a pillow cover for an oblong pillow, made from these three blocks, probably turned and put on point.

more lotto blocks

I usually spend a day playing in my studio over the Thanksgiving weekend--last year it was at the house of a friend in Texas. This year, it will likely be a solitary day ... I just need to decide WHICH WIP to work on ...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thank You Libby

Libby replied to my whine earlier today about the forgotten camera battery with a link to her photos of the quilt show.

Here's one of her photos of my favorite quilts of the day, Invitation to a Flower by Kazue Tukayama . I fell in love with the bunny in a kimono.

Here's a detail

Everyone be sure to check out Libby's photoset of Quiltfest 2006 on Flickr. She has some great photos of the show.

I have to share one more quilt, Manitoba Medley by Judy Morningstar.

This quilt is one that gives you a very different experience when you approach it and get up close. Each of the cream squares contains a small landscape, constructed from subtle tones of fabric and lots of wonderful threadwork. It won a blue ribbon for best machine workmanship.

Thank you, Libby. See you in Rosemont in the spring?

What a Quilter Sees ...

What a non-quilting person sees when they looked out the window, while waiting for the elevator, at the hotel where I stayed in Cambridge, Massachusetts last month.

View across the river to Boston

What I saw.

Looking down

I walked across that pavement many times and wondered if all the people travelling across it or sitting at one of the tables outside the cafe noticed ... I figured the quilters did ;-)

Kenmore Square station, street level

Good news, bad news

Good news. Yesterday, a friend and I drove to the Mancuso show in Schaumburg, Illinois. I enjoyed the international quilts and the special exhibits, especially Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece, curated by Ami Simms, and the quilts from PAQA's Water Challenge.

Bad news. My friend showed up early to pick me up ... just when I was about to switch to a smaller bag and pack it. I ditched the plan to switch bags and just grabbed my camera on my way out the door. I forgot to grab the battery from the charger. We even took a break from the show to ride the trolley to the mall to pick one up at Circuit City, but no luck. So I have no photos to share.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Tale of Two Compasses

I had hoped to spend more time quilting this evening and even imagined that I'd have the beginnings of the hand-pieced Mariner's Compass block that I'm working on along with Becky and many of the hand-piecers on Quilting to share as my WIP this week. Sadly, while I did make some progress this evening--I went to a copy shot and had Becky's templates printed onto cardstock--it doesn't rate very high on the eye candy scale.

Becky's Templates

(click to enlarge ... and you can see the line drawing of this very interesting, traditional block)

As I was thinking about a color palette for this block, I remembered some other compass blocks I made many years ago for a challenge on Quilting. The challenge was to create a quilt from 12" blocks using no templates, at least one curve, and using a split complement color scheme.

I loved the improvisational compass blocks I made, though they have languished as a UFO because I never had an inspired setting idea. Now I feel I have to put these blocks into a quilt, if only to illustrate the range of my quilting interests ... this two interpretations of the mariners compass are so completely different.

Improv Compass Block Improv Compass Block
Improv Compass Block improv_Improv Compass Block

I am thinking of using the same color scheme in the hand-pieced compass. The color isn't good in these photos, so you probably can't tell that I was aiming at the split complement of yellow-orange, yellow-green and violet.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Saturday To Dye For

Alice Brinkman, a local fiber artist periodically holds Days to Dye For on Saturday mornings in her studio. Yesterday, we played with discharge, using Jacquard discharge paste and a Thiox bath. I started with some black Kona cotton, turquoise hand-dyed cotton and a commercially dyed purple silk scarf.

Is it because Halloween is around the corner that the pole-wrapped shibori piece on the left looks a little a skeleton?

Sihobori discharge Turquoise discharge

The piece on the right was clamped with a pair of wood rectangle shapes. Both went into the Thiox bath, along with a purple silk scarf with was also clamped. The scarf when back into the bath, after it was unclamped to produce the gradated effect in the circles.

Discharged scarf

I also screen-printed both kinds of cotton fabrics with the discharge paste using a silk screens. Here is the black Kona cotton, screened with the kanji for Peace.

Black screened

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Walk in the Park

I've been walking with a friend in a nearby park. The leaves are falling, the colors are fading, but it is still quite beautiful. (Click images for larger versions)

Walking Path Trail Sign

Picnic Table and Leaves Yellow Tree

River Reflection River and Leaves

It has been a beautiful October here, from beginning to end. I took these photos on October 2 (on a walk back to the office from a meeting)

plaza trees capitol trees

It's kind of amazing considering the 2-day snow storm that happened mid-month. France took some nice snowy landscape photos.

Frances Landscape Frances Landscape

They're so much nicer than the one photo I snapped.

snow on geraniums

(yes, those geraniums DID survive the snow and are still blooming ;-)
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