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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Autumn and Lotto Leftovers

This is the gazebo we built when we put in the dry creek bed about 3 years ago. The Sunset Maples have the most spectacular display this year! The dry creek is about 15" deep, and it is filled a couple of time a year when the Spring storms roll in with heavy rains, and sometimes hail. In the meantime, I let some natural grasses grow, and a little further up the bed there is an abandoned wheelbarrow that is filled with petunias in the spring. The grandkids love to play here, and often will have "garden teas" where they dress up in hats and gloves, and have little sandwiches and soda pop in teacups.

A fresh look down the drive from the backyards is pretty inspiring too. The red maples at the garage entrance side of the house are blazing away, but will soon lose all their leaves.

I decided that I wanted a more refined and cultured part of the garden that would be "just for me". I started the collection with this stupid old "crazy dog" one summer who was rescued from a garage sale on the other side of town. The dog is reputed to be a work of art, made in New Mexico by a famous sculptor, and it's supposedly a caricature of the previous owner's dog. After I heard the story of the dog and it's fame, I wondered out loud why it was in the garage sale, then? Well, it seems the real dog had died, and the replica dog also had died when the vacuum cleaner bit off one it's hind legs. The previous owner was just too sad to see it sitting there any longer. The original art price tag of $20.00 rapidly was reduced to $3.00 and Crazy Dog now sits happily in his garden amidst the plow gear and sawblade sunflowers. A little duct tape fixes him up each year, and he stays in the garden shed when winter arrives. There's also a crazy tin rooster, a blue flamingo and an ugly deformed orange pelican inhabiting the dry creek bed, as well as a one-winged tin owl sitting up in the tree.

A bit further east of Crazy Dog is the home of Crazy Lady. This is a painted tin sculpture one of my friends brought for my birthday. It is in the only shady part of the gardens on the property! She stands in the middle of Nepeta cataria, commonly known as catmint. Her windchimes made a steady little song in the spring and summer as the breezes blow through her hair.

And just a little further east is the Wren House and her bed of sunflowers. I put this little decorative welcome "butterfly" into the shade garden to liven it up a bit when the flowers all stopped blooming. Before I could get it driven securely into the ground, a lively little House Wren was buzzing all over me, chattering and swooping here and there. I thought I had inadvertently entered into her nesting area, but I was wrong! As soon as I walked away (backward), she busily set about picking up sticks and making this her home. She has had two broods that I know of, and she now allows me to come within picture taking distance of her home.

Now back into the house to finish up the pieced backing for the Lotto quilt. I'm sure the quilter will wondering what in the heck I was thinking when she opens the backing! BUT!!!! As displayed, this is all that remains of all the fabrics pulled to put this quilt top together. I even used the fabric that I pulled (and didn't put away) that didn't quite work. Then these leftovers were cut into usable strips and put away (GASP!) in the appropriate scrap bin by size!

Now on to getting projects ready to take with me out of town next week!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Another UFO bites the dust

I've been fighting off a strange virus for the last three weeks or so. It started out as just aches and groans - even my hair hurt! About the time I thought I was over that, I woke up with a scratchy throat which progressed to bronchitis. Phooie! And the weather here has been soooo nice! Just the last couple of days I've been feeling good enough to come out of the bedroom which has piled up with newspapers (for the news junkie in me) and quilting books (for inspiration), and lots of empty water bottles. Ahhhh, it's so nice to be back in my stewdio again, with the south facing windows and the sun pouring in. Today, I even have one of them cracked slightly open to enjoy the brisk breeze that is blowing.

I belong to an on-line friendship group (with Bonnie), and each year we participate in a "lotto block" drawing. At the beginning, one person sends a fat eighth to everyone participating, and on the last day of the month, she draws who will get those blocks. All the blocks are then sent to the lucky winner, and then *she* sends out the next round of fabric. Sometimes the fabrics are fabulous, other times, not my preference, but it's nice to work outside my range sometimes.

This quilt top was just finished with last year's (2004) lotto blocks. The colors in the photo aren't quite right, but close enough. The fabric was a Hoffman challenge from some years back, and not my cuppa tea at all! One of the best books I've gotten in recent times is Sharon Craig's Seven Fabulous Settings. It's sort of a re-write of her earlier book, but much easier to understand. I chose to use the Two for One setting since my blocks weren't all quite the same size, and I had an uneven number of them. I also wanted to downplay the focus fabric, too.

I chose a muted tiny floral Hoffman for the background, and a soft green fossil fern to frame the blocks. I also used a purple fossil fern for the central star piecing and the cornerstones. Now, a new rule I have this year is to use my stash fabric for exchanged blocks and blocks that have been languishing my "to do" bin. And the other new rule is that I must use ALL the fabric up that I pull out for the project. This means that the backing on this quilt will be pieced with the odds and ends of all the leftover fabric. And THEN if I have any left, I will make a couple of pillowcases to go with the quilt. I don't ever plan for a pillowroll on the quilts, so this is always nice to have when I change out the quilt on the bed - to have matching cases that don't conflict with the quilt!

This quilt will be my mother's Christmas present this year. It turned out a bit bigger than planned at 88" square, but I know she'll use it anyway!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Autumn in the Heartland

I took a little stroll through the yard to stretch my back today after I quilted and beaded a couple of hours. Dear hubby was out in the yard, doing last minute things before the last of the season. Things like picking up the hoses, and putting the styrofoam covers on all the outdoor spigots, spreading more straw out on the newly seeded areas of the lawn, and taking in the more delicate yard ornaments. I took along the camera so I could show you how big the yard is, and some of the latest changes in the trees here. Stick through to the last of the post for a reward of something related to quilting and autumn.

We've planted over 45 trees in the last five years - purple ash along the drive, blue spruce in the central garden, standard pears, red maples, sunset maples and October glory maples. I'm afraid with the heavy rains and winds that are moving in tonight, the leaves will be beaten off before they really get to turn their glorious colors.

I like the way they start to turn, just like a paintbrush has been waved over them, either from the top or just one side.

The gazebo and the dry wash were projects from 2002 when our backyard got all washed out from heavy rains. We planted those trees there too. The ones around the gazebo are all Sunset maples, with a redbud and two yellowwood trees to the south side (left). The dry wash fills completely with rainwater during the heaviest rains, and keeps our other plantings from washing away.

This is part of my central garden that sits in the middle of about 2 acres. It looks a bit tired now, but it's given us a beautiful summer. The gazing ball is the first bowling ball I did. I used all the broken tile that was leftover from the bathroom remodeling job that summer.

And the best of today? What I was working on, of course!

This piece will be ready to share very soon. After languishing in my "to do" box for 4 years, I am happy to report I only have a couple more hours of work on it. I took out some of the old stitching and beading that bothered me, and probably caused me to put it aside. Now, my skill and my creative process has matured, and I knew exactly what it needed - but most importantly, what *I* wanted to do to it! So watch this space!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Now, What was I looking for?

I was originally looking for some beads to quilt and bead at the same time on the triptych wallhanging. Did I ever find the missing bead box? Nope! I found the one with all the specialty beads, but not the basic box that fits on top of it. It must be in a safe place, I guess. Whoa, wait a minute! Am I turning into my mother? I didn't find my very special crochet gloves from when I was a kid until I cleaned out Mother's house when we moved her to a retirement community. She always put special things in a "safe place", and then could never find them again, too. LOL!

At any rate, I DID find all this danged embroidery thread. I thought since it was out, I should organize it into usable types. The end result is that I have one large bunch that is called craft thread, which is like a #8 perle cotton, only in skeins. Another large bunch is actually embroidery thread that people have purchased for me as gifts over the years. You know, like the special packaged that are for sale when DMC comes out with anniversary stuff? And then the spools in the box are all my perle cottons. I love these! Some of them are hand dyed, some are Valdani cottons, but most are just #8 and #12 perles. The variegated one seem to be my favorite as I have more of them than the plain colors. And this doesn't even show all the threads I have organized in a DMC carrying case with a current project. All this from someone who really doesn't even like to embroider!

Well, at least I'll be able to choose from a wide assortment of colors for my wallhanging when I get quilting this afternoon. Beads? Why, I guess I need to change clothes and go to the bead store. Is that a sure fire way to find my basic bead box or what?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Dresden Plates and I Spy bag

Another beautiful day here in the Heartland finds me happy, happy, happy! Maybe later on, I'll post some pictures of the yard from this last spring.

I started the day by being fourth in line for my flu shot at 9:30 AM, and I was back home by 10 AM! I got to sew the binding on the last quilt that was patiently waiting. Now, I can sit with hubby in front of the TV and hand sew it down. I just don't do the turned binding by machine very nicely, it seems. I guess I also like the last "hands on" of the quilt before it goes into use - sort of like a last meal with your baby before they go to college or get married or go into the service.

It happens to be a reproduction 1930's Dresden Plate. I looked around a lot for a setting that I liked. I can't remember which of you Mavericks found your Gramma's plates and were wondering how to set them? Here's my suggestion. I quite like them. BTW, the cat is not part of the embellishment on the quilt. Even though she thinks this is HER quilt, there will be another one that she will claim soon. Quite fickle!

And someone else asked for a more complete description of the wonderful I Spy bag that a friend of mine sent for my little Stephen. So here's the picture. Unfortunately, you can't see everything that's in it, but you *can* see how it's constructed. It's a simple 10" square of fleece (both top and bottom), with a window sewn in made from heavyweight vinyl. It's stitched together several times around with a heavy zigzag stitch. The edges are pinked. Everything in it is miniature toy like things with no sharp edges. I would imagine you could put anything in the pouch that you'd like. The list that was sent along with it says what's in it:

A happy face, a clothes pin, a turtle, a lady bug, a wreath, a shell, a jingle bell, a googley eye, a flag, a spool of thread, a crayon, a gold slipper, an apple, a wrench, a button, a marble, a dolphin, a daisy, a star, a pencil, a moon, a paper clip, a watch, and a penny.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Could this be October?

Once again my summer has disappeared while I've been busy doing other things. Late last night and early this morning, I've been looking at blogs, smiling, and shaking my head as I go.

I had all sorts of plans to sew yesterday (and several other days too), but they were changed even before I got up! My daughter called and told me that the kids were out of school and were begging to come over. So that's what the day was. I offer this blog as my one and only contribution to the Halloween festivities. Originally, I was going to begin AND complete a pumpkin patch wall hanging, but hey! there's always next year right?

So we got the day started with the girls favorite lunch - tuna salad on croissants. I got to unveil Stephen's "I SPY" pouch while the girls were making their sandwiches. The pouch was made by my friend Wendy in California - isn't it a great idea? It is made of fleece with a see through vinyl window, filled with micro beads and all sorts of I spy things. There's a spider, a turtle, a Polly Pocket dolphin, a crayon, a wreath, a smiley face, a googly eye, and on and on and on. Stephen just loves it!

Stephen also got to play with the animated cat that screams and turns it's head around that the girls brought for us. You'd think he would scare him, but nooooooooo! He just giggled and kept pointing at it's eyes! LOL!

After lunch, we went to see Wallace and Gromit. It is absolutely hilarious!! Everyone should go see this, even if you don't have a kid to escort you! I just can't imagine the Claymation animation patience those creators use! Then it was home again, home again where we had a quick swim. Can you believe it? October, and we are still swimming? Now, of course, I have to admit, we have the heater going, but all the same. It was 85 degrees this afternoon and it was just delightful!

We also decided to give the pumpkins some faces instead of carving, so here we all are after that event. On the left is Audrey (8), Julia (10), Oma and Opa (ageless). The extra pumpkin between Oma and Opa is for Stephen and it was a collaborative effort:)

And I leave you with my last traditional Halloween contribution. A picture of two conjoined black cats - actually, it's just Bonnie and Clyde taking a nap, all cuddled up together.

Friday, October 07, 2005

First Quilt

So here is my first quilt,ala Bonnie. This quilt was made for a special niece and her husband, and they requested "Warm, please." Not knowing any better, I bought TWO high loft batts for the warmth. This quilt was tied, but I did try to machine quilt through that stuff on the borders - and of course, that was quickly abandoned.

Shortly after I made this quilt, (which they love, btw) I saw an old diary at a museum. What was so fascinating was that the maker had drawn the picture of what she had made. Sometimes it was a dress, sometimes it was a quilt. And best of all, she had also attached snippets of the fabric.

It was nice to flip back through my journal and add the fabric pieces. For some reason I stopped keeping a quilt journal. I have all my quilts in digital pictures, but I rarely print them off anymore. If they are special, like my art quilts, I have them professionally photographed and appraised. I need to really start my journal again. It was great to see the fabrics I had used, and I'll bet I have some scraps left here or there of the ones I've missed. Who knows,someone in the future might be inspired to play with fabric, too, just like I was!