Monday, March 25, 2013

Signs of Spring

I did this ZIA (zentangle inspired art) on a letter I wrote this morning.   It's supposed to be Spring, but so far the calendar and the outside aren't in the least bit of agreement. 
In the "One Zentangle a Day" book last week, the exercises were using different types of colored tools to enhance the tiles. I didn't do all of them because I don't have all the toys.  I'm not one to go spend a lot of money for an experiment.   This is the only one I did that I thought was worth the time. This was done with "Inktense" pencils, which I had gotten for one project or the other- maybe a doll face. 

 Turns out I was unaware how soon kitten season would begin!  Two days after I wrote last week's post, I came home from the shelter with a family of five.  Momma cat is named "Hunnie" by the nice people who turned her in.  Isn't she beautiful?  And such a sweet cat.  As sweet and cuddly as kittens are, I always fall immediately in love with the moms.

Don't they look so beautiful cuddling?

 On another visit to "the nursery", one of the kittens was peeking out of the nest at me.  They have changed so much in such a short time.
It might be the same kitten.  They all look just alike, which could make giving them names difficult.

At the ArtCGirlz meeting last week, we did a project inspired by the work of Ann Brauer.  Mary had already tried this, so she was our teacher. We all brought strips cut at 3/4 of an inch!

This is the way I laid mine out.

Most of the girls did an 8 inch square, but I want to make a small purse with mine, so my strips are half the width of fabric.

This was all I got sewed down that night.  It takes four strips to make an inch and I was aiming for     10 1/2"!

I got the rest of it sewn (sewed??) down yesterday.  I LOVE the way it looks.  Now I'm not sure I want to cut it up for the purse.  Stay tuned....

For my "green tip" this week, I want to show you something hubby found in a motel room.
Soap labeled as "green".  Why? You probably can't read the box, but it says:
This innovative ergonomically shaped waste reducing soap has been designed to eliminate the unused center of traditional soap bars.
 (Followed by being cruelty free and using soy inks and recycled paper)

Have you all had the same thought hubby and I had?  So instead of one useless bit of soap, it gets thin, breaks and you have two useless bits!  As with many "Green" products, it is nothing but a marketing gimmick.
So don't buy it just because a product says it's green.  Think about it and do your homework.  Being green is a lifestyle not a fashion statement.

I am grateful for:
Small signs of spring even though it's still cold.
A very fun day with good friends!
Getting to cuddle teeny kittens- and their mom.
Three less boxes in my basement
A fun piece of lime green fabric to make a skirt with in the clearance bin. (If I find the time!)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Family- of one kind and another!

(author's note- I realized last weeks post was a bit of a rerun after I made it.  I hope you realize that it's not for lack of effort.  But in all honesty, I lead a pretty dull life!  Sorry-  I guess I should review older posts once in a while, eh?  :-)    This week's is all new ( I HOPE!)

First I want to talk about my quilting family! 
An absolutely wonderful group of ladies I am grateful for every day!  We laugh and cry together, and share ideas with each other and inspire each other.  We take care of each other- as shown by the "Fabric hug" here! 
We all had a part in this gift for a member who is battling cancer.  Without planning ahead- only knowing her love of purple, batiks, and butterflies- we made this quilt.  It amazed all of us how well everything went together - and the balance in designs!
Everyone had a part- making a block or two, one assembled the quilt top, I basted, another quilted, another added the binding and label.  And we all put our love and good thoughts into this so she will know we are all with her every step of the way!

Here are my blocks.
It turns out I don't have a lot of batiks.  I guess I'll have to remedy that soon.  :-)

This is my home family.  Our elder son was visiting from Portland, so we did the self- timer thing with the camera, which is why we're all laughing.  It's always special when we can be together for a few days!  I miss the sweet little boys they once were, but am very proud of the men they have become.  

I'm turning the "green" tip to another topic this week.  I am also involved with the Genesee County Animal Shelter, as a volunteer and foster mom to kittens or sick cats.  Kitten season will soon be in full swing.  It is astounding the number of kittens we get- and the number we have to turn away for lack of foster homes.  As much fun as I have with the babies, I would love it if there was no need for it.  And it's so simple- have your pet spayed or neutered. Feral cats have become such a problem in some areas, they are proposing open hunts.  Many of these cats die from disease or starvation- or predation!- in the wild.  If you can't afford it, look for low cost options.  Genesee County has a "Spay our Strays" program, which can help with feral cats as well as pets for low-income folks.

Apologies if this is a rerun, but the need remains the same, year after year. 

I am grateful for:
Families of all kinds!
A nice long visit with Guy.
The most delicious corned beef I have ever cooked.
A day between vacation and work.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Going back to basics- and beyond!

Day 2 tile
 As you may remember, I have been practicing the art form known as "zentangle" for several years now. When I first learned of it, I did it every chance I got.  As time passed, I spent less time doing it on a regular basis, so of course my skills deteriorated.  You don't have to be an artist to do it, but there's a sort of vocabulary to it that I wanted to refresh.  Along came Beckah Krahula's book,
One Zentangle a Day- which immediately went on my Christmas wish list.  Apparently no one read my list, so I had to buy it for myself a few weeks ago. 

It's a really great book, introducing all the terms and tools available- and two or three new "tangles" (the repetitive patterns drawn to create a "tile") to familiarize yourself with each day.   I began the book as if I had never done this before: reading all the instructions, practicing in my sketch book, and using only the daily tangles in my work.

It gets a little frustrating at times, because Zentangle is meant to be intuitive and sort of meditative- and here I a following instructions!  I think a few of my tiles show that.  Working on the black paper was especially hard for me. 

But learning new tangles has been a lot of fun- and practicing them in my sketch book allows me to sort of dissect the ones I have trouble with until I can find what works for me.

This is a sort of mosaic of all the tiles I did the first couple of weeks.  The smaller ones are done on ATC's
(artist trading cards) instead of the standard square.

It was about this time that I discovered there is a blog following along in the book.  I have fallen behind, so I read the daily blog post only for the chapter where I am working.  It's interesting to hear some of them say the same things I am saying about the book- and also to see others' work!

Using colored paper (I believe) makes a tile something called Zentangle Inspired Art.  I did this on some paper I got in the scrapbooking section of Michael's.

 The shading is a little different on colored paper, so to test some different techniques, we were told to copy a few of our earlier tiles onto colored paper

 The original black and white tile, shaded with graphite.

Below is the copy, shaded with a white graphite and the graphite for highlights and lowlights.

Again, this is the original .  Below is the copy, using the white graphite and colored pencil for  shading.  I think this was my favorite technique.  The colored pencil alone didn't do anything for me. 
I am moving on to more color and more ZIA in the next chapter.  I may not ever do some of these techniques again.  But as with anything we do, it is good to learn as much as you can.  That way if you do want to do it, at least it's in your "toolbox".
I also believe sometimes it's good for us to go back to basics. 

I was amazed how many water and soda bottle I saw laying alongside the road this morning.  Now that the snow is all melting away, the winter detritus becomes more apparent.  It's surprising that even in NY- where we pay a 5 cent deposit on them- we have people who just toss their bottles out the window.  How hard is it to carry an empty bottle home?  If you see one of them in a parking lot, or sidewalk as you get out to enjoy the spring, pick it up!  Even if the label is gone and you can't get the nickle, toss it in  your recycle bin to keep it out of the landfill!

I am grateful for:
Home made macaroni and cheese
Starting tomorrow I have Guy for 6 days!
The overwhelming excitement that comes with beginning a new project.
Lucas has a signed purchase agreement for a house at last!
The fine spring weather we had over the weekend which brought singing birds, a few flowers and eating on the screen porch!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Better Late Than Never...

I'm a bit tardy getting this post finished.  I started doing one for myself and one for the guild right after the retreat. Guess which one got finished?
 (similar in many ways since I'm using the same group of pictures.  :-)

The Asbury Camp and Retreat Center sits on Silver Lake. Unfortunately it was a grey and gloomy weekend and the lake wasn't as picturesque as it was last year.  But we weren't there to go swimming or fishing anyway.  We were there to sew and enjoy our fellow guild members' company!
 This is the work room in the Koinonia Inn.  Each member gets her own work table, with room for cutting and ironing areas to share.  There's lots of sewing, but even more chatting and laughter.  Walking to the ironing board takes at least 15 minutes every time!

This was my work space- shared with Mary Lee and Elaine. See the spirally thing in the center?  That's the one block I had gotten finished when I took a "Twirling Logs" class with George Siciliano at the guild's 2010 quilt show.  Everything sat in the bag- out where I'd see it so I would finish it- ever since.  I decided if I took it to retreat, I might actually do it.  ( I did bring other projects, assuming I'd get really sick of this one!)

First I had to cut all the little pieces.  I only cut enough for 6 rounds, so I wouldn't have to worry about not finishing and how to pack all of them back up to work on next year, I mean when I got home.
Meanwhile at the other end of the room, Mary Lee was arranging her One Block Wonder blocks from a workshop we did a couple of years ago.  In fact I think the one I worked on last year was from that workshop . (still not finished)

 This picture was taken after dinner on the first day.  I got there at 10, set up, helped others move in, went out to lunch, cut all the pieces, ate dinner and this was my grand accomplishment!One whole round!  (I may have doen the second round before bedtime, though)

This was around lunch time on Saturday- just before we went shopping!  Four rounds.  Almost time to decide whether or not to cut more pieces.
(is the suspense killing you?)

I'm working on two projects right now that will use taupe in all it's forms.  I got started on my taupe stash at the Quilters Daughter in Perry Center.

 I finished the sixth round just before dinner, so I cut more.  I decided I wouldn't make appreciable progress on any of the other projects I brought along, so I kept going. 
I forgot to mention, Eula asked me before I even started cutting if I had brought something to drive me crazy this year.  She was referring to the "tiny twister" project I did last year!  I held up the one finished block to answer her question.

It took me until right up to the time everyone started packing their gear on Sunday afternoon to get the last piece on and the blocks trimmed, but I got them all finished!

On the left (above?- I never know where the pictures will end up, frankly) is the picture of the pattern from George's website.  You can decide to have "fans" or spirals when you assemble the blocks.  I preferred the spirals.

I have deadlines in front of me, so they are back in the bag, but I will not wait 2 years to get them back out!

And next year at retreat I'm bringing something with bigger pieces!!!

Meanwhile, Mary Lee got her blocks put together. 
 She found a few blocks that got set aside, so she is waiting to find solids to decide where they go.  We all loved the luminosity of this piece!

I apologize to Elaine because I didn't get a picture of her finished bag made with musical fabrics.
The blocks below are for the row robin.  Aren't they lovely?
The purple ones are the beginning of a set of "Old Italian" blocks for a quilt.  (I think the pretty lime green bit is her tool bag)

 This is the (mostly) taupe palette for one of the projects I'm working on.  Stay tuned......

Have you ever heard of "Freecycle"?  It's a way to get rid of unwanted items other than tossing them in the trash.  In my area, the freecycle group is called Genesee-Orleans ReUseIt Group (a Yahoo group).  You post what you have- or what you're looking for- to the group.  If someone wants it, you arrange pickup.    Some people just post curb alerts- that they are putting a certain item out if anyone wants it.  It's a great way to keep things out of the waste stream, plus sometimes you can find exactly what you want- for free!

I am grateful for:
Friends who are just a weird as I am
Doing the YMCA dance at retreat
February is over!
Hot soup
Learning how to find ways to be grateful for things I used to complain about.