Thursday, December 28, 2006

Two Birds with One Stone

I've signed on to participate in a couple of challenges in the new year. One is Sharon B's Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge. You can find the details on her blog, but she's going to post a stitch per week that participants can use and vary in a variety of formats. I'm going to be embellishing this piece for the challenge.

You'll notice that I used a Madonna photo transfer in the block. This is also going to be my last Madonna piece in the series I've been doing with Debra. We've blogged about the other pieces in the series at the Madonna Idea.

Ever the multi-tasker, this piece is also my first in the 12x12x12 Journal Quilt Challenge sponsored by the Quilt Studio webring. I like to be involved in these projects, and this is my way of concentrating my efforts. If you look carefully in the lower right of the block above, you can see the transfer outline of a hummingbird. My theme for this challenge is birds.

Here are some photos of the 8.5 inch block I embellished in Sharon's on-line encrusted embellishment class this fall. The class was full of very helpful design information. I got really good at French knots making those wisteria blossoms.

I really love doing this kind of work, and I'm anxious to get another block underway. In the meantime, I wonder what I'll do with this finished block. For now it's on my design wall inspring me.

Friday, December 22, 2006

San Francisco, part 2

One of the highlights of my recent trip to San Francisco was seeing the Gee's Bend quilt exhibit at the de Young Museum. When I was a kid I went to the old de Young on a regular basis: I'm a native, this is my home town. They had an extensive collection of Asian art housed in what must've been one of the orignial structures in Golden Gate Park, which was damaged beyond repair during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. The new building stands at the site of the old structure, and is a shiny and very modern-looking state of the art building. The Asian art collection has been moved to a new museum downtown (which is on my list of things to see on my next trip).

We had excellent timing when we got to the quilt exhibit because a docent tour had just started. The docent was very well informed about the exhibit, and related a lot of annecdotes about the quilters and about their life circumstances. This information was handy for Michael, who knew nothing about this thing I'd dragged him 300 miles to see, but he quickly understood the context of the work and some of the reasons why so many people appreciate it.

The quilts were very moving for me to see. My favorite piece was a quilt made from work pants, with all the variations of wear and color. To me it was a testimony to the maker's creative will to make something she needed out of what was at hand, and of the asthetic spark in what seem to be the most utilitarian acts. These works have a vitality that is impressive, and I'm convinced that this is due in large part to the spontineity that comes with irregularly-cut pieces. I think we should all try to make something without using rulers just to see what happens. The use of "forbidden" fabrics like polyester and courduroy also adds energy to these quilts. I'm predicting a resurgence in the popularity of polyester myself. I think it is underappreciated. No photos were allowed in the exhibit, but Michael bought me the beautiful book that documents it.

The new museum is wonderful, and sports a funny-looking observation tower which has a panoramic view of the city.

Here are some scenes from the Japanese Tea Garden next door.

Here are a few seasonal scenes from Union Square.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Big 5-0

I had a birthday last week, the Big 5-0. I'm very happy to make this milestone. As I've been telling my family, it beats the alternative. Michael and I spent a wonderful time together last weekend in San Francisco celebrating our birthdays, which fall two days (and a few years) apart. I tell him that he's my spirit twin. Actually, I tell him I'm his evil twin. He so nice, he doesn't belive me. For my birthday I bought myself new glasses, which you can see in the photo. It was that or a tatoo, and I decided (for now) on the specs.

I'll post more about the trip later, but I want to show this wonderful gift my kids got me. I'd admired these vintage sewing boxes on EBay, and my clever kids bought me one, much to my surprise.

I put the tissue box there for scale. It's really huge, like a small table, and it opens out about to about five feet. I've put my knitting things in for now, but it's going to be great for crazy quilting and embroidery.

Here's a photo of the fingerless gloves I've been knitting as Christmas gifts. I don't know why it came out so fuzzy.

The pattern is from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts. I love it because the pattern calls for small amounts of different colored yarns. I knit another glove pattern in this magazine as well. I find gloves are great gifts, and can be made up even faster than scarves.

I'm in the midst of end-of-the-term grading, but I'll post more about my birthday trip soon. An important part of the trip was my visit to the Gees Bend quilt exhibit...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Happy Birthday Debra!

Happy Birthday to Debra our Quilt Studio fearless leader. I value your friendship, enthusiasm, and creative charisma. You're a great community builder for us on-line fiber afficionados. Enjoy your special day!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

WIP Wednesday

I finally remembered about WIP Wednesday. Somehow, Wedsnesday comes and goes and I remember when I don't have time to post, or when I can't find the camera, but this week I remembered. This pink and green quilt has gotten stuck at the sashing stage because I've been working on some Christmas gifts. I decided to quilt some of the finished tops I had in the closet and use them as gifts.

This Lanterns quilt is going to a dear friend. I pieced this top about 5 years ago (!) and then it hung in the closet unquilted. I think I was waiting to have more confidence as a quilter because I wanted it to turn out nicely. I did a simple quilt- next-to-the-ditch, and it suits the quilt nicely. When I saw my friend's new house, I knew she would enjoy it.

I also quilted these two table runners for gifts. The blue one was canibalized from a stack of finished blocks. I've got plenty more from which to make a large throw.

I quilted this little top, which is the size of a table cover. I don't have anyone in mind for this one, so I'm putting it aside for the moment. I may have to keep it for myself to use in my red kitchen.

It feels good to clear out some WIPs and even better to have handmade gifts to give to friends and family members.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to All. We had our Thanksgiving yesterday, so here are a few photos of our celebration. Come in the kitchen and pull up a chair.

I did cook up a proverbial storm yesterday. At the end of the evening my legs were killing me.
Alex was working on the computer through the day. I had to hide behind the plant and then sneak up on him to get a picture of him smiling.
Allie made the mashed potatoes, which were delicious.
Oh, a crafty aside: the kitchen rug I finished crocheting from old t-shirts. Waste not, want not, right?
And here's everyone getting ready for the feast. That's Michael my honey on the right and that's Allie's boyfirend Roger opposite him. Yum, we had a great dinner. Many blessing to you and yours on this special day.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Links

I'm going to try to post working links to Linkyesterday's post. I'm not sure what happened, but I'm hoping for working links.

Marie Antoinette

The Age of Innocence

I think these are going to work. For some reason I couldn't link to the Vogue cover--oh well, two out of three.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fabric in the movies

I went to the movies yesterday to see Marie Antoinette with my daughter. One of the benefits of having an 18 year old daughter is that I have someone to go to chick flicks with. I was interested in seeing the film because from the previews and from the Vogue photo spread I could tell that there was going to be some excellent fabric eye candy in the movie. Kristen Dunst was charming in the film. She evolves from a 14 year old princess to a mature woman. But the film is poorly paced, lingering way too long over Marie Antoinette's problem of getting her teenage husband to consummate the marriage. Apparently it took years for this to happen, and Sophia Coppola, the director, seems to have wanted us to feel the full effect of the delay. The post-consummation portion of the story doesn't have much drama, and then suddenly, the film is over.

But the eye candy! The velvets! The ruffles! The tassles! The lace masks in the masked ball scene! The shoes! Oh, and there's cake too. It's worth it to see this movie just to see the linens. Curiously, although the film gives a nod to what we call in literary criticism multi-temporal heterogeneity by incorporating a contemporary rock music score with a pre-rock music era story (which we also saw in the movie Moulin Rouge), the costumes and sets look historically accurate. Or at least what we expect historically accurate to look like through the lens of Hollywood movies.

This movie has got me to thinking about other fabric-friendly movies. Another favorite of mine is Martin Scorcese's The Age of Innocence. There is a wonderful scene where Daniel Day-Lewis kisses Michelle Pheiffer's shoe, and we can see the detail of the sumptuous hem of her dress. It's practically fabric porn. Do you have a favorite fabric movie?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

New Projects

Thanks to everyone for their compliments on my crazy quilt. I've hung it on a wall in the entry to my house, so people can see it through the window as they stand at the front door. It's 26x26 inches, and I do find myself referring to it for ideas as I work on the block in Sharon B's crazy quilt class.

Here are some projects I'm currently working on. This is a block for a pink and green quilt I'm making for myself. I was inspired by this fabric with cakes on it. and I'm making some blocks as well as a border with this fabric. The other fabrics are various pink, green and white fabrics. The effect is very light and cheerful.

I'm also knitting this scarf from some alpaca I'd been visiting at the local yarn shop until it went on sale. It's a pretty easy pattern and alpaca is so soft it's wonderful to knit with. It is slippery, so I'm knitting it on bamboo needles, which are my favorite anyway. I like the light weight of bamboo, and metal needles feel heavy by comparison.

I have had some good finds lately at the thrift store. I recently found a lot of crochet cottons in different weights that I am using in my crazy quilts. As you can see I have enough to last several lifetimes, so if you'd like some lengths of random colors, don't be shy, send me an email.

Yesterday, I snagged this partially-embroidered kit for fifty cents. I think I'm developing a thing for Holly Hobby. She was very popular in the 70s when I was in highschool, and when I see Holly Hobby things, they always attract my attention. For now, I'm finishing this panel, which I hope to use with some pre-cut rectangles of Holly fabric that I've got stashed away. Of course the fabric is in brown and orange.

Speaking of brown and orange, this is a new cat who has come to live with us. I'm calling her Lucy for the moment, after Lucille Ball, since she's a strawberry blonde. (She also coordinates nicely with the rugs, as you can see.) We're not real sure, however that she's a she, so this is a provisional name and subject to change. In the meantime, she's got a lovely personality and gets along fine with cats 1-3. My daughter and I have an understanding that you can have up to five cats before you hit Crazy Cat Lady status, so we're still one under the limit.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I finished my CQ project inspired by Sharon's 100 details series. It was a fun project, and I enjoyed trying out different embellishment techniques and basically experimenting with how much embellishment a piece of fabric will bear. The other good thing about CQ is that it entitles you to be in a continuous collecting mode. I'm now on a perpetual search for interesting buttons and threads. I've also collected a few interesting neckties to use in the sample for Sharon's on-line CQ class.

I'll hang this one on the wall, as I don't have a baby grand piano to drape it on. It would be nice on a small table, but the cats would think it's a new platform for them to lay on and survey their domain.

Things are good on the home front. Alex is working and going to school and singing with his band. Allie has just been offered a full-time (but temporary) job doing data entry. She is interested in doing office work so this is her chance to try it out and see if going to college isn't such a bad idea after all. I'm waiting to get my car fixed, working on my Japanese ladies quilt, and I've collected fabric for a new quilt I want to make as a birthday gift for myself. It's pink and green. I'll post pictures of the fabric as soon as I get my camera back from Allie. Everytime I go to use it I have to ask her for it back.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

This and That

Wow, it's been awhile since I've posted, but right now I'm between work-related shit-storms, so I've been able to take a breath, do some creative work, and catch up with myself.

Awhile back I knitted ipod "sweaters" for my daughter Allie, her boyfriend Roger, and for one of Allie's teachers. A couple of her friends recently asked if I would make them ipod sweaters too, so last weekend I whipped out two new ones for them.

This is brainless straight knitting, but the fun part is using up scraps (my true passion) and inventing a tiny thing that kind of looks like a sweater. Stripes are fun, but I also used some acrylic mohair to imitate a fuzzy sweater. The girls were really cute when they asked if they could pay me to make these for them. I said, "oh, that's okay, it only takes 20 minutes," which is not quite true, but it's fun anyway.

I finished sewing together the crazy quilt blocks I made when I cleaned out my scrap drawer. The scraps included the leftover pieces of that Alexander Henry fabric "Las Senoritas." The women look like they're peeking out from the blocks in a flirtatious way, so I've named this quilt "Las Coquetas" (the coquettes). It's 62x62 and it'll either be a lap quilt or a large tablecloth.

I had these blocks left over from when I made my Pineapple Blossom quilt, and I made them into a table runner. I love the yellow bee fabric I used for the border. Bumble bees are always so cheerful.

Allie Aller tagged me with the Five Weird Things Meme. Reading other people's responses impresses me with how so many of us are weird in similar ways. So are we weird or normal? Well, here's my list, and I'm going to stretch to dig up the Truly Weird.

1. I have a transgendered canary. I wanted one that sang and only the males sing. The woman at the shop assured me that the canary I was buying was a singer, so I brought him home and named him Pancho, after the canary my grandmother had when I was growing up. After I'd had him for a week or so and he still hadn't sung, I realized that Pancho was never going to sing because he is a she. When I told my daughter that I was thinking of taking her back back to the shop Allie said, "Mom, you have to accept her as she is." So Pancho became Pancha. I love her to death. She doesn't sing, but she has a wonderful personality and she's very beautiful.
2. I perceive personalities in birds.
3. I am so spacially challenged that I was 13 or 14 when I finally learned my left from my right.
4. I have narrow feet with high arches and so I have terrible balance and I'm very particular about shoes. I like nice-looking shoes, but I won't wear anything uncomfortable. If I find stylish shoes that are comfortable, I feel like I hit the jackpot.
5. I hate to have the sun in my face, and so if I'm outside and it's sunny, I almost always wear a hat, particularly if I'm walking. I have a black woven hat that's that's my favorite.

So, is that weird enough?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fourth Fan

Sharon's 100 details series is winding down. I can't believe she's in the 90s already. I've pretty much finished my fourth fan. The blade with the dragonflies is provisional. I'm saving that space for one or two last seam treatments, and I'll probably wait until the end of the series to decide what to put there. I really appreciate Sharon's generousity and inspiration. Crazy quilting isn't something I'd ever anticipated trying my hand at, but it's been fun.

In this photo, from left to right, is rick-rack with wheatear stitch and beads, herringbone stitch with detached chains and buttons, and fern stitch with buttons and French knots.

I showed the stitches on the left here before, but I added a crazy composition on the right: ribbon, beads, straight stitches and buttons.
In the open areas that are left, I'm going to do motifs. I found the Rosetta Stone of crazy quilting: Carole Samples's Treasury of Crazy Quilt Stitches, a wonderful book. There are no instructions, but there are hundreds of stitches organized by type, as well as a selection of various kinds of motifs. I'm looking forward to finishing this project.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Okay, Now I'm Old

I'm still using my 49th year, and I got my invitation to join AARP, the big senior citizens lobby. To underscore the point, my baby turned 16. I remember him when he a a sweet chubby-cheeked baby, and now he's a hard-edged local rock star. Here's a clipping from a newspaper story about a recent gig. I was cool at one time, now I'm cool's mom.

That's my baby with the microphone.

I had a wonderful time at my Labor Day reunion with my circle of college girlfriends. (That's me in the back with the pink blouse.) The years mean nothing when you're with people who shared important times with you. We were undergrads together at a fancy schmancy women's college. Out of a student body of 900, there were never more than 20 Chicana (Mexican American) students there at any one time, so we were drawn together by our common experiences as working class daughters of immigrant parents or grandparents and by our shared experience as first-generation college students. Few people expected us to end up in college in those days, much less at the fancy schmancy women's college, but with each other's support, and with the support of our teachers and mentors (the grayer folks in the photo) we have all done well. We knew the responsibility we bore to our communities as college grads, so many of us work in education as teachers, librarians, or administrators. It's wonderful to realize how stong the bonds of friendship are after all these years.

In the quilting department, I'm working very slowly on my hand embellished crazy quilt. I'm not sure I want to finish it, so I'm not hurrying to work on it right now. I've also been trying to catch up on my journal quilts for this year, and I've "made up" 3 months that I'd not yet done. I wonder if it counts as a journal entry if you do it 3 months late? I'll have pictures soon.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Signing My Name

...well not my name, but my initials. I decided to put my initials into this quilt, and it got a little Las Vegas-y on me with the pearls and all, but I decided not to take it out (for the moment). It's hard to tell but this is chain stitch embellished with small pearls. I also did my homage to Georgia O'Keefe by giving this steer head a crown of flowers. I must've used the flash on this picture, because the lighting is over-exposed.

I've also been making the blocks for this crazy quilt by cleaning out my scrap drawer. It's pretty much empty now, and I love this kind of mindless sewing. I have a lovely red border for it, red being my favorite neutral. When I get inspired I'll sew it all together and put on the border. I won't be embellishing this quilt as it really is just a utility piece.

I'm off to San Francisco on Saturday for a reunion of my college girlfriends. I haven't seen several of them for many years, and I'm very excited. I also hope to visit some museums and to eat at some good restaurants. I'll report back next week.

Sweater Genesis

  A few years ago I learned to harvest yarn from old wool sweaters.  I don't do it so much anymore, with the exception of if I find...