Saturday, December 28, 2013

Just a boring old broad

I have had "blog post" on my to do list for days now and I just have nothing to say, so I keep putting it off. I'm boring.  I know this.  I'm actually not ashamed of it. I always say that excitement seems to bring trouble.  So I'd rather be boring.
I haven't been near my sewing machine- except to lay something in there to attend when I have time- in a couple of weeks.  I have the raffle quilt here right now, due to a change in the holiday schedule.  It worked out for the best because some of the marking was almost invisible.  I really hate marking quilts.  If the marks stay for more than a minute you risk not being able to remove them.  But if they remove easily, you have to work very fast- and not move the quilt.  I used a kopha marker on the recommendation of one of the members.  I must have marked too lightly because the blue lines have faded badly!  Anyway, that is how I have spent my hand work time lately.

 I also made some fingerless mitts from a noro yarn.  I love the long color changes in Noro, but that means the mitts don't match very well. It's ok- Cait loved them.  (I didn't take a picture of them before she got them.  Here, she is trying to get the Mylar basket filler back into the little box.)

Our Christmas was fairly quiet inside, but weather-wise, we had an interesting few days.  A week or so before Christmas, this is what my sidewalk looked like, thanks largely to "lake effect" snow.  This isn't the amount of snow we got- although we did have close to a foot of it- just a drift that grows right in the walkway.  It was higher than the snow blower, so there's a ledge on the top!

Then the Friday before Christmas, it warmed up and all the snow melted, so we had this.  We get this pond every spring, and anytime we get a heavy rain.  It rained a LOT the next day, so the pond was a foot deep from the edge of the driveway back to the fence row.  I was surprised there weren't geese on it!

On the Sunday before Christmas we woke up to ice.
We only had 1/8 to 1/4 inch of it, so it wasn't any threat to our trees or power lines.  But some people north of us had some serious damage.

Naturally I had to go out and take pictures of it.  To the right is the fruit on my flowering crab.  Below is wild rose hips. 

Then on Christmas eve, we had a perfect snowfall!  Fat, lazy snowflakes gently falling.  Just enough snow to cover the mud and give us a white Christmas. 
(In a perfect world, it would now warm up to about 65- 70 for the rest of the winter and early spring!)

We went to see The Hobbit just before Christmas.  I enjoyed it, although I had read negative reviews.  (I still think it's hilarious they made three movies from a 200 page book. )
I was thrilled to see Lee Pace as an elf!  He was Ned in a short lived tv show called "Pushing Daisies".  If you've never seen it, I'm sure it's available somewhere.  I highly recommend it!

My Green thought this time is to let you know that sadly most wrapping paper is not recyclable.  So please don't put it in the big yellow boxes.  If you want to make your gifts more "green" next time, consider using reusable packaging- a pretty shopping bag from a local store, a basket, even a nice storage tote.  Here are some other ideas.

I am grateful for:
Being appreciated even when I don't feel I'm doing the "real" work
Safe travels
LOTS of good food
Family time
The fact that at Christmas we all take the time to tell people they are important to us

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Using up some leftovers!

It looks like I was very very busy this week, based on the finished items.  But I cheated.

First- I finally finished these socks.  I have been knitting them most of the year- pretty much only at Guild meetings and car trips.  I really should document things better, so I would know exactly when I started them.  Isn't it funny how the pattern changes even though it's the same skein of hand dyed yarn?  (Alpaca- SO soft!)

For our guild Christmas party this year we are doing a mugrug swap.  You bring one, you get one.  Simple, right?  But I think I'd rather know who it's for since I made more than one. 
Here's where I cheated...
I had demo samples from when I showed the double diamond ruler a couple of years ago.  I added borders, did the pillowcase thing and quilted.  Voila!  Finished.

I found these tulip blocks from a paper piecing demo I did many years ago in the same "orphan project" box as the double diamond samples.  So I decided to make them into mug rugs, too.  Easy peasy!

 But now I have to decide which one to bring to the meeting.  (maybe all of them and I'll just give the extras away)
 Any requests?

A co-worker admired the Penny Marble snowflake ornaments I have hanging over my desk.  I was thinking I could make some more to give to co-workers instead of cookies.  When I went looking for the pattern, I found the kit for Penny's Winter Blossoms.  So I made those up- easy and fun, even though I hate "heat 'n bond".  I ended up not being able to do the snowflakes because I only had tiny pieces of wonder under in my stash.  I know I have more- somewhere!

As long as I was in the Christmas project mood, I went back to the "hexagami" I tried a few months ago.  It was suggested they would make nice Christmas ornaments, so I made a few.  I like how the red ones looks like Poinsettias!

Even though they were simple projects, it felt good to have so much to show for my sewing time this week!

Winter is upon us.  Last week there was ice on my back steps and I almost fell.  I went right in to get the ice melter.  I do not use rock salt, and neither should you.  There are alternatives.  Most of them are not only safer for the environment, but for our furry friends as well!

I am grateful for:
All of my foster cats/ kittens have found their furever homes!!!
A short Christmas shopping list. (Have I mentioned I really hate shopping?)
Discovering it was the wildberry flavor prilosec causing a return of my GERD symptoms. (why a tablet you have to swallow whole needs a flavored coating is beyond me)
I can still get locally grown McIntosh apples.
Non-traditional holiday music

Friday, November 29, 2013


I've been trying to get this post written all week, but I keep getting interrupted.  (Imagine the nerve of my boss expecting me to work- and my family wanting to eat!)
I went to the annual Quilts=Art=Quilts exhibit last weekend.  I have been going to this exhibit for around 15 years.  I was still a relatively new quilter when I first went.  At that time most of the quilts were somewhat traditional.  All were at least a quilt in the traditional sense of there being layers of fabric, batting, and fabric.

In the last few years, there has been a shift.   Many of the pieces are not very interesting, or technically well-made.  Some don't even seem to be quilts.   One year, the first prize winner was painted canvas.  It was top-stitched in some fashion, but does that make it a quilt?  This year, an honorable mention was awarded to what looked to me like a bunch of torn t-shirts.

 I started going to this every year as a way to stretch my own ideas and be inspired.  There wasn't much in this show to inspire me.  Next year, I don't think I will waste my time.  Sad.

They gave out a statement this year from the  prize juror about the awards.  He says, "The work I look at has to have a quality of establishing 'something,' of being energized by 'something,' that is beyond the artists initial expectations."  I'm not sure I understand that, but it sounds like the work has to make a statement.   I wonder if they base their decisions in part on the artist statement.  Because alot of the time, it seems like they take a mediocre or random piece, and assign it some personal or political meaning to make it more artistic.
I'll admit, I do not know a lot about art.  I don't get some art.  Jackson Pollock, for example.  The elephants at the zoo make similar "art". 
Art is purely subjective.  But with the word quilt in this exhibit,  the jurors  really should be considering quilt making techniques and design when making their decisions.  They seem to like work that is very scrappy with close quilting lines.  (In case you want to make something to enter.  :-)

There were pieces I liked in this show.  They stopped allowing photography several years ago and they do not offer a show catalog.  So many of the pieces I liked aren't available to view online.  Apparently they do allow some non-professionals into the show.  (oops, was that too snarky?)

This one was interesting more because of the  fact that the figures are created with cut outs of a gun shape (see below)

This piece was not awarded anything.

I liked this piece by Karen Schulz.  I wanted to say I prefer representational work, but that's not the case. 

The best in show, by Judy Kirpich was amazing, even though we kind of preferred her other piece, Anxiety no.7, Richard.

Afterward, we went to the RAFA exhibit in Clifton Springs.  We enjoyed that one much more!  I apologize in advance that I did not get the names of the makers assigned to the work. 

My "green" reminder this time is a simple request to bring your own bags when you do your holiday shopping.  One good sized bag when you go to the mall will hold quite a lot of stuff.   When it's too heavy to carry, make a trip to the car for another one!  You need a break anyway.  Stop and get a cookie or a hot pretzel on the way out like I do.  After all, you need to keep up your strength!

I am grateful for:
time to play in the sewing room
a face to face chat with mary
a quiet Thanksgiving day
Lots of leftover turkey for hot turkey sandwiches and soup!
Friends far and near

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Paper Collage Portraits

 A while back, I saw this picture on facebook.  It is also on this blog post by the artist.  One of the girls thought it was a mask because of the eyes.

Anyway, I thought it looked like a fun project for the ArtCGirlz to try, even though it's paper.

So those of us at the October meeting brought in magazines and had a blast leafing through them to find the right colors, words, features.....

I had originally thought to do something totally abstract, but then I found the eyes.  So I guess it's semi-abstract.  It was SO much fun. 

When we all showed them at the regular guild meeting, the girls who hadn't been able to come said they wanted to do it.  So at the November meeting, I did it again.  I really need to practice the mosaic thing.  I was trying to hint at a nose and mouth, but the hints were a bit too vague.  It was still fun!

Two new exhibits opened at the Roz Steiner Gallery last week.  Both are interesting! I am happy we have this space on campus- and a new gallery manager so the gallery is open when I'm here. ( I wish they would find a way to do evening and weekend hours, though)
This is the work of Lee Hoag.  The exhibit is called "the Alchemy of Objects".  He takes old stuff and creates sculptures.  I wanted to know what the bits were before, but none of the signs had that information.

This piece reminds me of the hooka the caterpillar smokes in Alice In Wonderland!

I wanted to play with this one.  It looks like a top you could spin!

This one looks like a fabulous night light to me!  He uses a lot of those glass pieces. 
 I wonder where he gets them?

There was another, um, interesting piece.  But I decided it was a bit to "Masculine" to have a place here.*

The lobby gallery- open any hours the college is open- is featuring the work of Courtney Blazon.  The combination of windows and glass on the artwork makes it nearly impossible to get a good picture.  But she shares a lot of her work on her blog.

Check out the snails on the feet of the zebra!
Her work is kind of Alice in Wonderland meets Terry Gilliam. 

*Think of the word "ladylike" in an episode of Everybody loves Raymond and you'll know what I mean.

I look forward to Thanksgiving more than most other holidays.  It breaks my heart that the commercialization of Christmas- fueled by the crass consumerism that drives our broken economy- has diminished this most wonderful of holidays!  As Loudon Wainwright observed, "Forget about Thanksgiving, it's just a buffet in between"

In your feasting, remember it saves money as well as resources to use your good china and cloth napkins rather than  disposables!  Besides, you have all those nice dishes, you might as well use them!

I am grateful for:
Having only 4 foster kittens!
Good sewing time
Good time with friends at/ after the guild meeting
 A warm sunny afternoon of "Indian summer"
It wasn't raining when the fire alarms sent us out into the cold!

Monday, November 11, 2013

A quick update on the copyright saga- and kittens!

 This beautiful cat came in to the shelter last week during my shift.  She is almost exactly what I pictured in my head when I was looking for a cat last year. (Before I met George!)  I mentioned to the "dear" husband how happy I would be if I could have another cat- since the perfect one is available.  But- as he has done for years- he told me I could have a new cat if I get rid of the old one.

The big meanie!!!

Meanwhile, I still have 8 kittens, who have outgrown their room, so I am really hoping to get some of them moved out this week.  Here is a glimpse of what happens every time I go in to take care of them.

You may think, Aww, how cute!  But when one is trying to empty three litter pans, and clean the floor and three or four kittens decide to jump on one's back and head, one is climbing up your leg, then the one on your head starts pulling your hair; it can become moderately annoying. 
 Yes, I'm sitting on the toilet to cuddle them.  It's the guest bathroom, so the potty is the only seat available.

So- about an hour after I posted last time, I got an email from the Sendak contact at Harper Collins.  She complemented my work and my talent rather sincerely.  However, after all these months, it turns out that Warner Brothers owns all the rights other than reprinting parts of the published book, as part of the agreement when they made the movie.  So IF I can find out who I would ask for permission at Warner Brothers, and IF they even understand what I am asking, and IF they agree that as long as I do not intend to use my work for financial gain.......
I thanked the woman at Harper Collins, but told her:
"I will look into who to contact at Warner Brothers, although I have to say at this point I am put off by the whole process.  They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but not when it comes to copyright laws, I guess."
 I still have a really nice quilt. If you come visit, I'll show it to you!

I am feeling very saddened by the devastation caused by the typhoon in Southeast Asia.  I will admit, though, that it occurred to me that climate scientists have been warning of the likelihood of stronger, more violent storms for years and years.  And nothing is changing.  I feel like the Lorax most days.  "Nobody listens too much, don't you know"

I am grateful for:
A joyous reunion with a dear friend on her happiest day
Warm feet
My hubby puts up with my crazy and takes care of me.
Six months before I have to go to the dentist again.
My fellow crazy cat ladies

Friday, November 8, 2013

SO much easier to ask forgiveness than permission!!!

First- here is my only Trick-or-treater from last week.  Isn't she beautiful?!!  (mom prefers to hide behind a mask)

I spent most of my last (three day) weekend marking, layering and basting the raffle quilt, taped to my dining room floor.

 I am really pleased with the way it has turned out.  But it sure would have been easier to have a pattern to follow.  Most of the quilting will be in the ditch style, but there are parts that needed to be marked.  Another member recommended "Kopha" water erasable markers. She said they seem to work much longer than the clover ones. (meaning they don't dry out as quickly) The line seems finer as well.  I got mine at the Stencil Company

I'm not sure which of these pictures has the truer color, so I posted both.  The footstool is what I rested on as I was working.  I hoped it would save my knees.  It didn't.

So- the reason for the title of this post- you may remember my "Where the Wild Things Are" quilt.   I made it for the challenge and for my son, Lucas.  I never intended it to be a competition piece or anything.  But I did hope to enter it into a few shows once I got it finished because I was so pleased with how it came out.  The first show I would have entered was the Genesee Valley show LAST June.  I sent my request to Harper Collins in January, as soon as the quilt was finished.  Their website states the usual turn around time is 4 - 8 weeks.  But by April I had still not heard anything from them.  So I resubmitted my request, including the fact that my deadline was fast approaching and would someone at least let me know the request was in process.  A nice lady called me to discuss the request, how the quilt would be used, etc, etc.  I told her I needed a decision by May 1- the date to withdraw the quilt from the show.  Apparently they have a separate person to deal with requests for Maurice Sendak's work.  And- since Mr Sendak had passed away, all requests now go to the Sendak family.  I never heard another word.  The deadline passed and I didn't have another show looming, so I kind of let it drop.  But then I thought about it again a month or so ago and was pretty upset they never responded at all.  So I submitted my request a third time, asking what ever became of my original request and saying I thought it was pretty poor practice to not send me any response at all.  Turns out, once the May 1 deadline passed, they discarded it.  Apparently I would have to submit a request for EACH time I wanted to show the quilt, including dates, location, any media coverage it might get....
Seriously???? For EACH show??? Are you freaking kidding me????  I cannot imagine that level of pettiness!  I have since asked- since I assume this is all about someone fearing I will make money and they won't get their cut-  if there is a license I can buy which would allow me to show the quilt on the condition show entry does not give the sponsor permission to use images of the piece in any way- which means almost nowhere other then my own guild, and possibly my son's bedroom.  I have had no response.
So there is a LOT of truth to the saying that it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.

I have a problem with copyright laws in all honesty.  I don't know how some ideas and designs- even words!- can be copyrighted.  I don't get how if I buy a quilt book or pattern I can't use it any way I like, or share it with a friend.  I do, however know why they are needed.  I just read a story about an Australian quilt designer who sold her pattern to a publisher who then sold it to someone else.  Maybe she didn't read her contract closely enough, but I still think she should be paid again by the second magazine.

Jane Sassaman told a story when I saw her speak several years ago about entering a hotel and discovering her quilt was the carpeting!  (She successfully sued the carpet manufacturer!) 
I think this is the quilt which was used without her permission.

I get it.  I used someone else's work.  But I am not trying to profit from it.  I just want to be able to show it off since I'm proud of it.  Is that really so much to ask????

My Environmental rant is short this week.  Just stay informed.  Know what is going on in your neighborhood.  If it's something you find objectionable, get the facts yourself.  Don't let "the experts" tell you.  Most of those "experts" have an agenda.  And make sure you aren't making it worse.  Several years ago, there was a proposal for a wind farm near me.  I was excited about it.  But the "NIMBY's"  were very loud and a moratorium on wind farms was passed.  Now the frackers are looking at the same area. HMMM- let's consider these options:  the whoosh, whoosh of a wind turbine, or poisoned air and water.  Not a tough choice.

I am grateful for:
an unexpected call asking my advice
fresh Cuba cheese curds
the kittens who cuddle on my lap and purr the minute I go into the "nursery"
being comfortable warm
being part of a good team

Monday, October 28, 2013

Something to show!

I'm typing on the ipad blogger app, which has very limited functionality.  So pardon the spacing, etc....
I have actually managed to finish a few things the last week or so.   The above piece was from a class i took with George Siciliano over three years ago.  You may remember I spent all three days of the February retreat this year making three of the blocks for this.  Three days!
It's finished now.  I finished the quilting before the class with wendy Butler berns, but i never consider a piece finished until it has a label and sleeve.  Problem was, I didn't have a name I liked for it.  So i put a picture on facebook and asked for suggestions.  My friend Terry suggested "Mystic Thistle", which I loved!  

The dress I made on Saturday.  I started at lunchtime with three yards of fabric.  By dinnertime I had a dress.  I wish more projects could be finished that quickly!  (I should note there is no zipper in this dress.  It's a very easy pattern!)

Shoot, these are out of order.  I quilted the tree project, which also needs a name.  I love how it looks on the back.  I may have goten that from my BFF Mary, who always looks on the backs of her quilts to see how she's doing. 
I added the leaves since the background has flowers in it.  So obviously it is a springtime scene.

I was thinking of adding some beads as flowers on the tree.  I laid them on in the picture below.  So, beads, or no beads?

The raffle quilt top is finished at last.  This is only part of it.  I was marking the quilting on a sheet of vinyl to test out some ideas and spacing.  It's going to be hand quilted.  So we need to get started very soon.  The quilt show is just under a year away.

Thinking "green" this week brings me to the Holiday shopping season.  The stores are jam-packed with stuff they think we want and/ or need.  It's the same garbage every year: decorative tableware, fake pine wreaths and garlands, serving pieces, kitschy little decorations....
 First, in spite of what Martha Stewart would have us believe, we don't need ANY of this junk to enjoy our holiday.
Second, if you do "need" to decorate everything, why can't you store and reuse the same stuff?  Your guests won't care if the napkins are the same ones you used last year, will they? (Note i am assuming you are using cloth napkins?)  it's the people who aree important at holiday gatherings.   NOT the stuff!

I am grateful for:
The time of year when being warm feels good to me.
Potato soup
Finishing things
Crawling back into the covers on a cold morning
Admitting defeat

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A very fun class!

The Museum Quilt Guild enjoyed a visit from Wendy Butler Berns last week. We only enjoy a national teacher every couple of years, so it's always exciting! 
Not only is Wendy a warm and energetic teacher, she is loads of fun to be around!

 The class I took was this tiny tree.  Part of her Picture Image Applique series.  This project uses fabric manipulation to add texture to the picture.
This is one of Wendy's samples.

This one is also Wendy's

I didn't put a lot of time into choosing fabrics for the class.  I basically grabbed a light, medium and dark in the colors I thought I would need.  I was disappointed at first that my fabrics were boring, But it made choosing what to use where in my project much easier!

And I was very pleased with the results!!
Since there are flowers in the background, I plan to add green leaves- and maybe some blossoms to my tree when I embellish.

My friend Kathi  made a piece that ended up having a Halloween flavor to it.  Isn't it awesome! (I suggested the moon)

We laid them all on a table at the end, but it was hard to  get a good picture of them this way! 

Fortunately Wendy took a group picture!  Such a fun day!

The following day, we enjoyed a lecture with Wendy about the stories behind quilts.  She once again had a great show and tell of some of her work. 

I loved how these looked laid out this way- like the dark kitty is a shadow of the light one.  I bought this pattern, of course!
Wendy has to simplify her original quilts to make them into a marketable pattern.  Here is a perfect example of that.

The details she ads to her quilts are worth a closer look.  The butterfly here is 3-d.  I never got a chance to ask how it was done.

And look at the hair on this child!

My friend Jeri shares interesting links about environmental issues on facebook.  I mention this because it is important to stay informed- no matter the issue.  You can say you support this or that, but not know much about it.  I know I have been guilty of that in the past.

I am grateful for:
The ten "extra" minutes of sleep I get by setting my clock ahead, which allows me to hit the snooze once. 
Apple Crisp made with my grandmother's recipe.
Watching the kittens when I bring something new into the "nursery".
A great sewing day!
Rereading a favorite book and getting to "the good parts".