Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Not Too Cozy...

No new work today; but this is what I saw from my bedroom window a few minutes ago when I went to take pictures of the snow. Perfect photo op, if only I had a better zoom!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Quilt of Valor

After I posted this quilt a few weeks ago, I almost took the lazy way and let it go as it was, but I decided to take Nellie's advice of adding a narrow white border and then a blue border. I'm very glad I did; it improves both problems, and I am now much happier with the finished product. Thanks, Nellie, and everyone who commented.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Collage

For my last Friday Collage, I expressed the Daily Life theme by focusing on one of my favorite things. This time, I'm showing one of my least favorite: my regular visits to a well-known women's fitness chain. Exercise is supposed to free the creative part of the brain, but I find this place totally mind numbing--terrible music, mindless repetition, and the chit-chat which is supposedly one of its big sells usually just irritates me (there's that introvert thing again). However it's a necessity, so I go.

Not much to say about making this. I just printed some words associated with the place, and added a sketch of one of the machines. The composition has no clear focus. The word pieces and the machine should not be the same color; this was partly done to save time, and also, I need to learn to look more critically AS I work, not afterwards!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

WIP Wednesday, and a meme

I'm putting a border on the Quilt of Valor that I posted on two weeks ago, and will post a picture when it's done.

In the meantime, Nellie of Nellie's Needles tagged me to blog about five things I've never mentioned on my blog, so here goes. It's hard, because although I don't blog about everything in my life, there doesn't seem much I haven't mentioned that is interesting.

1. I have a cat. Not a big deal, except that it surprises me I haven't mentioned it, because so many people post pictures of their cat(s) all the time. I don't take second place to anyone in my love of cats, having had one all my life. I could easily become one of those crazy cat ladies like the one on the Simpsons.

2. Like Nellie, I grew up on a farm. I never milked cows, but I did have a 4-H Baby Beef steer that I fed daily and groomed regularly. When he went to his fate, it was sad, but the money went in a savings account for college. I still won't look at the livestock projects when I go to the fair because they bring tears to my eyes. I also know how to pluck and dress a chicken although my mother always did the actual beheading!

I'm the tall one with the droopy drawers. This was a new tractor, so we are excited to be riding it!

3. Learning to sew was also a 4-H project, starting at age 9. Having work judged by 4-H judges in the county fair where I grew up in Missouri has caused me to be much more of a perfectionist in sewing that I am in anything else, and to have no nervousness about quilt judging. Over the years, I've made everything you can think of except a man's jacket or pants. Oddly enough, sewing never seemed that enjoyable to me (reading was much more my thing), and the clothes I made for myself never seemed right to me. It's only now that I really love sewing--quilting is somehow more liberating and creative.

4. I did mention our stay in Paris last summer, but I'll expand on that a little. For the last two years my husband has been able to spend a month in Paris doing a little research and writing with a French chemist there. We'll be going for our third and almost certainly last stay this May. We stay in a tiny Spartan flat near the Blvd. St. Germaine as poor relations in the heart of wealth, art, and culture. I never thought when I was growing up that I'd have such a marvelous opportunity. I love feeling some small sense of what life is like in this beautiful fascinating city. Hemingway described Paris as "gray, but always beautiful" and to me that is perfect. It's a city of lines, not color. The repetition and variation of the building shapes is the defining characteristic of Paris to me. In preparation for the trip, I'm continuing to take a very low key French class. I wish I could say that I'm fluent in French, but the best I can do is say a few phrases in a horrible midwest American accent and understand even fewer. I can read quite well, however. Without that skill we'd never survive! And--I don't find Parisians rude. A polite "Bon jour, madame" has always worked for me. It's when you forget, and act like an American, that trouble starts!

At home in Paris--

5. I've never posted about dyeing fabric, because I don't do it! I have one set of fabric I made in a workshop, and that will be it. Way too labor intensive, and I'm so sloppy that I would turn our house into a Super Fund site very quickly. (When you're married to a chemist and have a chemist son, you hear more than you ever wanted to know about the danger of toxic stuff.) I have done a bit of painting and stamping, which seems much more fun to me, but still-- I think I'll just buy it!

Part of this meme is to tag five more people, but I'm really shy about doing that. But please, I'd love to read about you!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Personality Traits

As suggested by Debra, I joined in with Jen at Bayou Quilts and took the Meyer-Briggs personality test and discovered I am a INTJ. The disparaging way to summarize this personality might be as a bossy, know-it-all eccentric. But the positive way would be as a creative, pragmatic and self-sufficient person with deep feeling for others, although often for only a selected few. As I e-mailed Jen, I'm glad to be grouped with Jane Austen, but I'm not so sure about Donald Rumsfeld! My favorite part of the profile was this line: INTJ's may "simulate some degree of conformism in order to mask their inherent unconventionality." But enough about me--

If anyone wants to pursue the personality analysis thing a little further, Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania has a website with a questionnaire where you can measure your signature strengths. I read his book Authentic Happiness several years ago and found it thought-provoking. He defines "signature strengths" as the activities or values that give you the greatest satisfaction, and a job or life style which allows you to use them would therefore provide happiness. My strengths were interest in excellence, and pursuit of knowledge. (I may not be remembering his terms quite right.) As a teacher most of my life, I've been fortunate to be able to use these. Come to think of it, these traits fit with the INTJ personality too. Hmmmm.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I'm so happy to be home after being away for a week! I've been catching up on blog reading, and particularly the wonderful 12 x 12 x 12 Challenges on the Quilt Studio blog. Beautiful work, everybody, and what a range of techniques. This makes viewing them a learning experience as well as just eye-candy. I've been having trouble commenting as much as I would like, and have a question of those more Blogger-savvy than I am. Why do some people's comments open a new window, when some people's do not? I assume this is a setting, right? I have particular trouble with the comments that open in a new window. The response is very slow, and there is no sign that the comment has registered until it does, so I sometimes end up commenting twice. Is this just something about my internet connection, or is it more general? Can anything be done? I'd appreciate any hints, and meanwhile, I would love to comment on everyone's challenge work, but sometimes I can't. So if I haven't commented, blame it on technical difficulties!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fast Friday Collage

I thought I'd like to try this challenge this year as a way to force myself to pump out ideas and try new things. Last week I was away and I'll be gone next week too, but here's at least one for the first month.

The theme Kim chose for January is Daily Life, so I've shown my favorite part of the day--morning. I truly love morning: everything seems possible, there are new things to do, the light gradually brightens. I especially love the wonderful coffee my husband makes, so here it is, along with lots of cheery morning cliches. This was fast, except for the fact that I had to soak the fabric with Bubble Jet Set and then mess around with Word Art and various fonts to get the look I wanted. I have a lot to learn there. I also used my painted fabrics, so I feel real arty!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I posted this piece a couple of months ago. When my son was visiting at Christmas, he admired it, but wanted it framed. I wasn't sure how to do this, but happened to read Deborah's blog describing how she framed a recent piece. Basically, the piece is tacked with stitches to a piece of mat board or foam core which is then put in the frame, glass removed. I tried her method, and am pleased with the results, although I would have prefered a narrower frame. Now that I've done it once, I will try some of the other frames and see how they work. Deborah includes a link to Melody Johnson's ideas for framing also. Very interesting reading.

Thanks for all the suggestions on my previous posts. I'm thinking it over.

One reason I didn't commit to the 12x12x12 challenge was that I wanted to clear up some UFO's and start new ideas that have been simmering for a while. One of them was this Quilt of Valor. I did these blocks in the fall and put them aside, but have now finished the top, I think. The blue and white blocks were the ones remaining from a guild exchange after I used the first half in an earlier QOV. The challenge this time was to use only stash fabrics. I considered tea dying the blue and white, but didn't because I've never done that and wasn't sure how it would work. I regret that I didn't; I think they jump out too much. When I planned this, I didn't think it needed a border and planned to finish with a wider than normal (half inch) blue binding, but now I'm not sure, and am considering adding a border. That will require buying fabric though. In addition, it's currently 62 x 62, and a border will make it an awkward size, I think. I'd welcome opinions on the border question. Decisions, decisions. Anyway, Deb Geyer has agreed to quilt this, so her work is sure to improve it considerably!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

How Old Are You Really?

Our local paper yesterday had an article about this website and its creator:RealAge. I would advise a visit. It's a questionnaire about nutrition, life style, medical history, etc. that averages all the data and calculates your body's actual age. I came out very well, but need to eat more vegetables, less meat, and more fish. Alas, I already knew that! But I did find out I have an ideal body mass index, and that was a VERY pleasant and very LARGE surprise. I thought this idea fits well with the emphasis on a healthier new year.

Debra, if you see this and can move it to the Lounge blog, go ahead. I don't know how to post there.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


The last showing of this, I promise. It is actually finished, except for hand work on hanging sleeve, label, and removal of the basting stitches which show in the lower right of the close-up. I use water soluable thread in the bobbin and basting stitches come right out in the final rinse or spraying before blocking. A neat trick. I don't know why this project has taken so long: I like it, nothing about it has been difficult, but I seem to let it rest for a long time between each stage. The other technical tip I would repeat is to beware of Rainbows thread by Superior Threads. This fine thread KEEPS coming loose. Backstitching and a gradual reduction of stitch length for the last 1 1/2 inches is all that seems to work. Tying ends and burying them does not work on this stuff and neither does backstitching alone.

My other project is to make a paste-up block of the Hoffman Challenge design I have planned. I probably won't reveal this for a while, but the color scheme is still what I showed last week, and I made trial blocks of the small pieces for the border, so I think I can pull it off.