Monday, March 25, 2019

Play time at last!

I had an unscheduled weekend for the first time in a long time, and spent most of it playing.

First, I had my weekly date with Jonathan.  He's a ham, since his mom and I have taken so many pictures of him being adorable.   As soon as we take pictures, he says, "Can I see?"  Today he made funny faces.  I tried to make faces, but couldn't see to push the button on the phone. 

At the February ArtCGirlz meeting, we played with fabric collage and made faces, using a technique from the book by Melissa Averinos. Personally, I want to take her cat collage class!!

This is the face I drew, and where my collage ended that night.  Some of the ones in her book have no more than this, and are then enhanced with the quilting.  I didn't leave enough background on mine, so was thinking of how to add the face to another project, when I saw an image of a painting by Gustav Klimt. And just like that, I knew!

I added collaged hair, using flowers , a rabbit and a cat.  Then I dug through the stash to find fabrics I knew I had that I bought because they reminded me of Klimt's work.   Here's where I left her- masked with batting to create the margins of the piece. 
 And this is what the floor of the studio looked like while I was working.

At the most recent ArtCGirlz meeting, Lori shared some techniques for making landscapes.  I was working from a photo I thought was near Sedona, AZ, but was really taken somewhere in Utah.

 I had tacked it up on the design wall when I got home, so spent a few minutes adding some foliage to the scrub pine. It's only pinned, so I have to get the glue stick out next time I'm up there.   I'm taking a class in thread painting on landscapes in April, so may take this with me to work on in class!

 I also got the beast back under the machine to try and finish it before the old quilt disintegrates completely.  I had been fighting the bulk of the quilt and a friend suggested that might have been some of the trouble I had with the quilting.  I remembered a post I saw years ago on Leah Day's blog, and decided to try some "sky hooks".  It's not as fancy as hers because I don't want to drill holes in the ceiling, but it seems to be helping me. 

The days are getting longer, and it won't be long until gardening season begins.  I stopped and picked up a few dead stalks yesterday after I took a walk.   I'm going to shrink my gardens again this year.  I just can't keep up with it all.  I fall further behind every year.  So the big garden will be mostly "wildflowers" and some punkins and zucchini.  I'd till it under.but there are some nice trees and shrubs out there I'd have to kill in the process.  I may try to encourage some native species to help the butterflies.  We lease the field to a guy who grows corn and soybeans (probably GMO), so I need to do a little bit to make up for the damage the farmers do. 

I am grateful for:
Aches and pains that remind me I am lucky enough to be growing older.
My grand babies.
My talented and generous friends.
A new series of books to enjoy in the car.
Time to exercise my artistic "muscles".

Monday, March 4, 2019

Still Winter

Winter isn't going to let us loose one second sooner than it has to this year by the look of things.  But being trapped inside works for me at the moment. If only every Wednesday, when I have to drive somewhere, the weather would stop being really crappy!

Week before last was the annual retreat with members of my quilt guild. 
 We spend three or four days with Silver Lake right across the street, and get to enjoy views like this!

Julie always brings a fun project for us all to play with, if we're so inclined.  Her work station is very popular because she makes the most wonderful things!!

This year, the favorite was these fun angels.  She provided the faces, pre-printed on fabric, along with a wealth of beads and yarns for embellishing!

This is mine before I painted some color on her cheeks and around her eyes.

Her wings were made from some kaleidoscopes Julie had printed on fabric and was generous enough to share.  Julie owns a business where she can print your image on fabric.  It's how I made my naughty tulip last year.

My goal for retreat this year was to get the top pieced for a wedding gift.  I can share it here because I'm fairly certain there's more than 6 degrees between me and the bride when it comes to our online presence. 

Kiara had been sick, so I went over to spend some time with her.  We tried weaving on cardboard. She seemed to enjoy it.  

And I have finally gotten to enjoy seeing Everett smiling and "talking" to me!  
 Oh, no!  I don't have a new picture of Jon to share.  The last two times I've been there he has kept me so busy being superheroes or robots that I don't get a chance to take pictures.  I love being his favorite playmate!

I finally finished these socks, which I thing I started in September last year!!  They are made from a Red Heart yarn, Boutique Unforgettable.  It's DK or worsted weight (?) acrylic.  Easy care but not easy for knitting because it splits and it's fuzzy so if you have to tear out, it grabs itself and gets stuck. I haven't worn them yet.  I hope they're warm.
I can't find it now, but I saw a post on Facebook earlier today that told about a kid who asked 50 people if they would sign his petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide.  He showed them a fact sheet similar to this.  Something like 43 of the 50 signed, six weren't sure.  One person knew that dihydrogen monoxide is water.  One!  This is how the world works now.  You show people something that sounds official and they just believe it without even bothering to check if it's true.  That's why it's so important to do your research, verify the facts and stay informed.  As the Washington Post has recently said, "Democracy dies in darkness".  Be the light!!

I am grateful for:
Being with my quilting buddies for a few days!
Getting up every morning, aches, pains and all.
My grandchildren!
A husband who doesn't mind leftovers.
Knowing the answers to the question.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Fill 'er up!

So, another busy few weeks have passed by!  Winter has been kicking our butts, giving me the good old midwinter blues.                                                                                                    But the real reason for my feeling like I'm under a dark cloud lately has to do with my very special girl, Marigold.   If you don't know the story , she was a foster kitten in 2015, who I got when she was just 4 weeks old.  At around 6 weeks, she had a seizure.  We weren't sure if a fall caused the seizure, or a seizure caused the fall.  Cats with seizures are not adoptable, due to the medical expense and vagaries of treatment, so euthanasia was recommended.  I decided to keep her a while and monitor the seizures.  She had one more that I saw, and then nothing- almost confirming that a fall caused it.  By that time, she was a permanent resident here.  She had never had another seizure until January 14, and it was a bad one.  I consulted with the veterinarians I work with at GCC.  They both said she'd probably have to go on anti-seizure medication.  A cat who hides if she sees the tube of flea medicine ( and it took two of us to get it on her) was going to need daily pilling.  Or do nothing and let the seizures get worse. After she had another nasty one 10 days later,  I chose the original option.  It was not the easy way out.  It was what I thought was best for her.  She went peacefully, not in fear or in pain.  Our house has felt pretty empty the last few weeks. 
That's the meaning of the title of this post.  I have also been feeling empty.  I am lucky I have some very dear friends, and good things to help fill me back up.  

Visits with these guys always help.  I have indeed been making up for lost time last month, going over for cuddles and play time at least one day a week.

Jon is a good brother, and doesn't seem to mind that I need some time just to cuddle baby Everett.

Everett is also making up for his slow start- growing like crazy!  Last time I visited , he was starting to push himself up so he could look around, and look at me, rather than just cuddling on my chest.  He almost looks like he's smiling in this one, doesn't he?

Jon was over for a while today while daddy was helping Papa.  It wasn't on my schedule for today, but nothing else was as important as watching Jon build this (all by himself- such concentration!), then having grilled cheeses sandwiches in our blanket fort. 

I have done a bit of sewing.  The new bed quilt went back in the "time out" chair after my sewing machine got fussy one day. I am very doubtful at this point it will make it to our bed before warm weather arrives (except maybe for a picture)

I did get this little one finished last week.  The center was for a demo I did at a guild meeting last november.  The fabrics were leftovers from my George Siciliano quilt.  Once I got the center pieced, I wondered how I was going to finish it, so went looking for a border.  In a tribute to my massive stash, I found the perfect Kaffe Fassett print waiting to be used.  I also had the perfect thread in my stash.  I titled this piece Planning is Over-rated.

Here's a close up of my quilting. I kept it simple.  The whole piece is something like 20 x 22, and I wasn't going to do anything fancy over all those seams.

I am grateful for:
My daily hug appointment friend at work.
Caring and understanding staff at Perry Pet in Perry.
Jon, Everett and their mommy who puts up with me dropping by (I always ask first)
An interesting conversation with a friend at guild!
My husband finally agreed it was time to replace that ratty recliner!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Not as Bad as I Thought

I was thinking yesterday it had been months since I last managed to stop in and post.  Not knowing if anyone reads this anymore- since I post so sporadically- I pondered crossing it off my list.  But I'm not ready to give it up.  If nothing else, it gives me a place to figure out what year I did something.  I use my photo albums at home the same way.  (I still print pictures and put them in albums!)

The biggest news in my world since I last wrote is Everett!!
He was born 2 days before Christmas.  He had a bit of a bumpy start between a difficult delivery and a trip to the hospital for some bili light therapy.  And then just as he was getting stabilized, Oma got a cold.  It has been weeks since I have snuggled him.  (and I know how lucky I am he lives so close to me!)  I hope to make up for lost time this weekend, if his mom can tolerate me being in her way.

So, since my last post, I did finish the challenge quilt, with several days to spare.  It's called "You Can't Buy Poke-weed at the Garden Center". 

There is a story behind the title, but suffice it to say that I did indeed go to a garden store asking if they had a plant I had seen in a garden.  Once the woman realized what I was asking for, I was able to dig some at a friend's house.  This piece has been in progress for several years, since I took a class with Marija Vucjic.  Found it in an old post! (the whole story is there too) The design went through several incarnations before I found one - a doodle I did during a meeting, I think- that I really wanted to make. 

I have been assessing my collection of solids, since I am taking a class with Maria Shell later this year.  I may have a palette I can work with.  But in case Maria has other ideas, I am filling a bin with a wide variety.  More is always better when it comes to fabric, right?  (I hope my kids feel that way when they have to clean out the sewing room)

This collection is based on the colors in a scrap of fabric I used for a skirt long ago.  Taking a picture in black and white is a good way to determine if you have a nice range of values.

I have been crocheting amiguri dragons the last few weeks.  I made a few of these when Jonathan was a baby, having seen them on facebook, and knowing how much his mom loves dragons.  So she, JOn and Kiara each got one back then.

I was going to make one for a friend who also loves dragons last year for her birthday, then for Christmas.   But she finally got it, and loves it!

 As long as I was at it, I always wanted one, too
Aren't they adorable?  The pattern can be found at Ravelry.

Of course, Everett will have to have one, too. 

I went for my first three month check up last week.  It's hard to even begin to think of myself as a survivor yet, but the tests she ran came back negative!  After enough of those, I'll accept that it's really over.  Not yet.

I keep trying to find good news to share.  It's out there.  Small steps toward a more sustainable future. But with the people in power waging a misinformation campaign and ignoring the science, It is very hard to see them.  I am hoping New York will ban plastic bags this year.  I did find a list of a few bits of good news, if you're interested.

I am grateful for:
Negative results, and the sweetest doctor!
Friends who brighten my days
Everett making it over the hump
A husband who can make me laugh so hard it hurts
Hiding in the sewing room on bitter cold days

Sunday, December 16, 2018

There must have been a Time Warp!

 I have written "Blog post" on my to do list SO many times recently and then never gotten to it.  The days have just been flying by in such a rush that I feel as if I must step into a time warp at some point.

I've enjoyed some wonderful family time, though.  Guy and Anna came home for Thanksgiving this year.  What a blessing it was to have my whole family together for a holiday.  I couldn't have asked for anything better.  
 We always do a family photo when we're all together, and this year's was especially fun!  We tried several poses before getting one I loved.  Kiara kept saying let's do funny faces.  So before we all got up, we did one last shot where we all got silly.  And that is my favorite shot!!! I even used it on a few Christmas cards!

 While they were here, Anna and I had lots of time together.  One day we went to Material Rewards in Dansville (my LQS).  The next day I showed her how easy it is to make a great baby gift- the self-mitered receiving blanket.   She was able to give it to Cait for the new baby before they left.

The kids come over to play fairly often.  We like to build forts.  Jon and I had our grilled cheese sandwiches- his favorite Oma food- in the fort we made.

I think I've posted about the drawings on my fridge before.  Kiara has figured out who "the bunny" was, but still goes tot he fridge to write notes. Jon had started to play along now, too.  I forget what he said was in this drawing, but I enjoyed having it on the board.    It has a sort of dreamy,  Monet type feel to it.  

The next time they both came over, we had a picnic lunch before we built a fort.

I think they were playing a game on the iPad.

One day I wandered into the studio and did some cleaning up.  I unearthed a pair of socks I knitted from wool that was not truly washable, and had therefor felted sufficiently that they didn't fit me any more.   I had tossed them in the studio thinking to make something with them. They are now sock kitties.

I  finished knitting this "Shawl in a Ball" (Lion Brand yarn)  The tiy bit of yarn beside it is all that was left when I finished.  Yay me!

I had started to quilt the big star quilt I made for my bed, using straight lines, as I think I mentioned before.   I quickly discovered it was terribly unwieldy to try and do with the walking foot.   So I have since done some stabilization quilting (in the ditch between blocks), so I can do it free motion.  The lines won't be as straight or even, but it will get done a lot faster with less cursing.  Sadly, winter may be over before it is finished.  Especially since projects with deadlines keep butting ahead of it.

 This is the state of my entry for the guild challenge as of a week or so a go.  It's ok, I have a whole month....

I wish anyone who has stopped in to read my mental meanderings a very happy holiday season!

I am grateful for:
My family being all together!
Kids to play with.
A sweet and generous boss.
My husband doesn't mind eating leftovers.
I think my shopping is finally done!

Monday, October 29, 2018

A Baggy Weekend

On my last weekend before going back to work, I decided I deserved a brand new bag.    I got the pattern back in April or may when Ruth Ann Stillwell visited the guild.   Her bags were all so pretty and well made, I couldn't resist trying one.  This one is called the Tidal Wave.  (all of her bags have that wave design)  I found this awesome fabric in Denver Pa, on retreat with my online guild.  The line is called "Cat-I-Tude"- perfect, right? 
It's a great bag- nice and roomy, with several pockets.  The outer bag is reversible.  I didn't take a picture of the other side.  Sorry..  I used a cat panel from the same line instead of the flower on the pattern.  I rarely follow patterns exactly as written, and this is no exception.  First- I don't do zippers on my bags.  I never use them, so why bother?  If I do it again I will skip the swivels on the handles.  Once you adjust the straps to the proper length there's no reason to need adjustment.  I already left that part off, so the swivels were unnecessary- and I don't particularly like them.

title: "it's in here somewhere"
The second bag I made is the small kind I consider to be my purse, since that's all I carry when I am shopping.  This bag is a remake from a half a bag I had made on this quilt. This was the brown bag challenge I mentioned in my last post.  When I took it apart, I saved the purse part because it was so pretty.  I wished it was a real purse. So when I ran across it again, I thought, why not?

I had a pretty piece of fabric that went very well with it, so I went to work.  It's not quite as nice as the pretend purse, but I like it and it allows me to use the pieces as opposed to the quilt sitting in a closet until finally, at some future date, my kids toss it. 

I went to the Morningstar Guild (East Aurora, NY)show last Friday.  It was a nice show, but the highlight for me was one of the vendors, called A Kid'll Eat Ivy Designs. She doesn't have a website, or sell online, sadly ( or happily since I'd be in trouble). Aren't these buttons wonderful?  I had thought one would look good on my bag, but the fabric is too busy.  So I think I'll wear it as a pin. (the one on the green card)  I hope next time I see her, she has more jewelry, which she has just started doing. 

I'm giving up fostering kittens.  It was time.  Between the amount of time they consume and the damage they had done in my guest bathroom, I was ready to stop.  So now I am using the time I would have spent on kittens every evening as my daily sewing time.  (today I'm writing this ).  Some days it might only be a few minutes, others an hour or so.  But I will HAVE sewing/ creative time  every day!  That's something I've really missed the last few years. 

I went back to work today.  It was nice to see smiles on even some pretty dour faces and hear the welcome backs.  My boss gave me flowers and I got lots of happy hugs.  Too bad every day at work can't be that way, right?

I am grateful for:
A day with my BFF
Back to my "real life"
Leftovers in the fridge
The flax seed bag my friend Judi gave me that keeps my feet nice and warm
Apple crisp

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A New Beginning

I'm back!  Did anyone notice I was gone?  :-)

The last few months have whizzed by, as I found myself caught up in a sort of medical tornado.
When last I posted, I joked about being between doctor's appointments.  What I didn't say was that many of them had been a progression of testing that turned out to be a diagnosis of endometrial cancer.  It all happened very quickly- from first visit to my regular doctor, to tests, more tests and surgery was 7 weeks. 
First, I want to tell any who read this and don't already know that it was small and very early and all removed in surgery, so I don't need more treatment.
Second, I want everyone to remember that if something seems abnormal to you about your own body- don't wait!  Go to the doctor!  Better to be seen as a hypochondriac than to ignore something that could be serious!
So, on September 12, I had a hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.  In English that means they took all the lady parts I was pretty much done with anyway. (this description should not be used with other women suffering the same issue- some will not find it amusing!) I have spent the last few weeks in varying stages of recovery, and will be heading back to work soon.  My husband was attentive; a very good caregiver, as one would expect.  He waited on me hand and foot as much as I would let him.  After the first few days, when I started to feel like I could probably manage to get my own lunch, I asked him when he planned to go back to work.  He said when he felt it was time.   I think he realized it was time the day I went to the sewing room for the first time- about 10 days post-op. 

The first thing on my to do list is a quilt for the new grandson, who we  should get to meet right around the first of the year.  I had something else started, but when I saw this pattern at a shop a while back, I changed my plans.   The original has an owl, which I dodn't care for, so I substituted the bunny.  This is just the top.  The babies will all get outline stitched when I quilt, so bunny's tummy will show better. 
  After I got the top made, I started looking around at all the piles of projects in my studio and decided to sort, clean up and organize a bit.  I found a few small projects that could be finished quickly, so did those. 

First, I had cut apart the "Brown bag" challenge quilt I made years
ago because I knew I would never hang it in my house, and I couldn't think of anyone who would want it.  I kept select pieces (like the hand!), which I thought would be usable for other things. 

The background bits have become:

"Catzilla"- from the book "Plush-o-rama"

I used metal bits for his features, so he's kind of Steampunk, I think.  He'll probably come to work with me.

I had been in need of a new thread catcher for when I'm at retreat or taking classes, so I used the rest of the bits for that.  No pattern, just made a sort of bag, then attached it to a pocket.  There's a ceramic tile in the pocket.  Not fancy, but functional!

I found some orphan blocks from the raffle quilt I designed quite a few years ago now sitting with a small pile of fabrics.  So they became this runner or door quilt.  (I haven't decided which yet)

The patchwork center of these placemats are made of scrap therapy squares.  I use the 2 inch ones as my leaders and enders when I'm sewing other things.  Eventually I have enough pieces for whole quilts!  Anyway, I had made all the 4 patches, so the rest went quickly.  This is the third set of these I have made and, I am happy to say, the last as the teacup fabric is now all gone.  We use these at home every day.

So I feel like I'm starting over after a sort of hiatus.  I have plenty of projects to keep me busy and I have made myself a promise to make sewing time a priority from now on.  I am happier when I have time for creativity! 
I'm also starting over with a new attitude.  On those days when my back, knees, hips, wrist.. are aching, I will not whine and say I have to put up with this for 20 more years.  I will now remind myself I am lucky to have those years and remember that 20 years is not long at all!

I will also try to post more often, for whoever (other then the spammers0 is stopping by!

I am grateful for:
 My great good fortune to be (at this point) cancer free!
All the doctors and nurses (and secretaries and techs...) who have been caring for me!
All the friends who sent me cards, emails and kept me in their prayers.
My wonderful family.
Realizing what is truly important!