Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I don't usually laugh at my husband publically, but I can't resist this story.

Yesterday morning he was eating breakfast on the deck while I was in the kitchen getting ready to leave for my Monday volunteer job.

Suddenly, "No, cat! Don't eat that cicada! The cat is eating a cicada!"

Clearly, I'm expected to step in here, but I ignored this except to say, "Don't let him in; he'll vomit it back up."

"No, cat! You can't go in! No! I can't stop him from coming in! He's in. I couldn't stop him."

I left at this point. Picture a 250-pound man unable to keep a pathetically scrawny, geriatric cat from coming through the door. Clearly this cat has powers no one suspected. Sort of a metaphor for asymetric warfare, isn't it?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Beware of Men Emptying Trash!

Somewhere I heard the wise advice that you should never empty your sewing room trash until a project is completely finished. Usually I follow this, just because no one empties the trash regularly in this room anyway. But last night, I had two overflowing wastebaskets, and my son took them away after I had gone to bed. (His method of emptying trash is to move as fast as possible.) So today when I looked for my leaves to fasten loose threads and do the finishing, they were gone! They must have fallen in the trash since they're nowhere to be found. Much moaning and fuming, because these took time to make, and even worse, one leaf used the "Ugly" fabric required for the challenge, and I had only a little left. But now two hours later, I have redone the blasted leaf, and am starting on the final assembly. Picture 1: where I am now, and Picture 2: the finished layout.

This was going to be a table runner, but now it seems to be a mat--or something. Anyway, it's small about 20 inches square probably.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blogger Question Answered

Thanks to Debbi at DubiQuilts I was able to add a list of books I've recently enjoyed to my sidebar. Thanks so much, Debbi.

I used to read constantly, but lately I have a hard time finding something that holds my interest. So these recent titles have been an exciting find. Boomsday is light reading, very funny, and The Yiddish Policeman's Union is basically a police procedural although it's set in a kind of alternate reality. It's an entertainment with literary merit, something hard to find. The two non-fiction books, Team of Rivals and The Omnivore's Dilemma, are fascinating, as engrossing as the best fiction. The Ministry of Special Cases is an amazing book, a combination of comedy and heartbreak, unlike anything else I've read. Approach it with care; it's not light and fun.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Blogger Question

Does anyone know what happened to the button on the Templates/Page Elements part of Blogger that allowed you to add a Page Element? It seems to have disappeared. Am I missing an obscure (or maybe not-so-obscure) button somewhere? Or do I have to go to the HTML? Any help would be appreciated.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

And Now for Something Truly Tedious...

For the last three days I've been working on the medallion to go in the center of the prize ribbons at the guild show. (This does not count the hours I spent several weeks ago messing with Adobe Illustrator to get the spacing of the letters and basket correct.) I can't believe I'm doing this; do people really care what their prize ribbon looks like? The ribbon itself is the good thing, right? I could editorialize about guilds again, but I've done that, so here's just a short summary of the process.

Step 1: Glue a cardboard circle to batting. Then cut around the circle and batting.

Step 2. Glue fabric to batting. Clip edges and turn them to the cardboard side and glue in place. That's easy. Now the fun part.

Step 3. Cut out all these little basket pieces. You could use any block pattern, but I'm not dumb. I chose something that could be made in one piece.

Step 4. Glue basket to batting, and then cut around it, AGAIN.

Step 5. Glue fabric to batting/basket, cut around it (keeping track of all the cutting?) and then turn the edges under, gluing them in place. If you think mine look pretty messy, you're right. This project was not assigned to the person with the necessary skills. I think I failed gluing in kindergarten.

Step 6. Glue finished basket to backing.

Done, EXCEPT, that I thought these things looked dumb without words on them, so I now have to print name of show, etc., on a piece of fabric, cut that out, and carefully fuse it on so that the words will show in the space under the basket handle. Then I'll glue the basket on. (I don't THINK that glue spot shows in reality. Must have been the flash. :) )
Someone else will be making a ruffle to go around the medallion and the fabric/ribbon tails to hang down, and then we will meet to assemble them.

This is not really more tedious than making an equal number of quilt blocks; I guess I just don't like the results as well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Like several people around the ring, I haven't posted for a while. I'm back from a rather quick trip to Vienna, Austria, with my husband where he attended a meeting and I did the "accompanying member" thing of sightseeing, smiling at conference affairs, washing out travel clothes, etc. Vienna is an absolutely wonderful city to visit. There's as much art and splendor as Paris, and in some ways it's more pleasant since there's much more English spoken and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. The fact that I don't know any German was actually a plus, since I felt no pressure that I should know what was going on and just addressed everyone in English. There's an excellent public transportation system and the city is clean and apparently quite safe, although tourists need to be careful anywhere, I think. And mustn't forget the food--delicious although heavy.

The downside for us was that Austria was in the middle of the worst heat wave in its recorded history. It was in the upper 90's for the entire time we were there, and one day it was 102! We had an air-conditioned hotel, but many hotels are not air-conditioned, the meeting venue was not, and neither are restaurants, shops, trolleys, and buses. The heat really hurts the sightseeing, since I didn't have the energy to go many places that I might have otherwise visited, (like some of the famous Vienna art nouveau buildings which are a bit off the beaten track), and the food and famous coffee didn't even appeal (although beer is good in the heat--). I saw air conditioned museums in the afternoon, and did the walking around part before noon.

Most of my pictures are still on my husband's computer, but here are a few.

Part of the Hofburg, the winter palace for the Hapsburg emperors until 1918, and now home of many Austrian government bureaus and the president of Austria.

Part of the imperial china and silver on view. This is the imperial napkin fold, only used at state dinners, originally when the emperor was present and now when there is head of state. Supposedly how to make this fold is a closely held secret, known to only two people even now. Isn't that a stitch? I bet some of you out there could figure it out...

The interior of a famous coffee house/ pastry baker. As I said, not as appealing in the heat as it looks in this picture.

This is the Cafe Central, a perfectly splendid cafe with painted ceilings, gilt, live piano music, delicious schnitzel, and best of all: air-conditioning! (If you see a few brave souls outside, it's because I took this picture early in the morning.)

Believe me, I haven't even scraped the surface of the beautiful things in this city!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I truly appreciate all the kind comments about my Hoffman quilt! I'll keep my fingers crossed. To add to the saga, when I logged on to the Postal Service website today to "track and confirm," I found that the package had been "missent" to the wrong zip code! This was not what anyone wants to hear! Supposedly this will be corrected, and it will be sent to the correct place, Fort Collins.

I'm off traveling again for a week or so; hope to do some reading, sight seeing, maybe a little hand work.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Challenge Met?

I've met the Hoffman challenge of making a quilt with the challenge fabric, but I've once again failed to meet the challenge of making one that I like, that somehow expresses me and my tastes. Why is that? Other people can. I find it difficult to think backwards from the fabric to the design, and although the challenge fabric is intended to be very versatile, to me it usually suggests one avenue only, not necessarily one that I like. This fabric looked rather retro to me, even feed sack-like with its busy floral, so I went with a very traditional design, the kind that my mother would like. Hence the name "If Grandma Made a Hoffman". It was extremely difficult for me, because I don't like balanced, symmetrical designs, and I don't like a limited number of fabrics. The fewer fabrics, the harder the choice, because each one becomes so important. In this case, I changed the light color around the baskets three times, and I made the aqua triangle squares before I decided that they were too bright, and ripped them apart to use the back of the fabric. I'm glad I did. I'd REALLY hate this thing if I'd had to look at that garish color for so long!

The pattern is Grape Basket, and when I was trying to think of a way to set it, I happened to see an article in Quiltmaker about another traditional block called Grand Right and Left, and got the idea of putting the basket block inside the Right and Left Block. The border block is called Scrap Basket, and I liked the way it seemed to add some movement, but the design was still very static until I had the lucky inspiration of the curved edge. I'd never done that before, but it wasn't actually very difficult at all. To break up the flatness of the too-solid fabrics, I used a higher loft batting than I usually do, and quilted heavily. That did help; it has lots of texture, and the close quilting adds to the traditional look.

So I'm sending it on its way this week. Whatever happens I don't think I'll enter this challenge again; too much time making something I don't really like when it's done.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Projects, good and bad

I've got three need-to-do projects; one seems attractive, the other two do not. Here's one: I must make 18 more of these little center-of-the-prize-ribbon medallions for a guild show in September. (I've started early because they're such a pain.)

Then here is one of two kits I bought to make twin baby quilts for the grandchildren. I have always said I'd never buy a kit, but these were simple, the right colors, and something I thought my son and daughter-in-law would like. They're basically just squares with appliqued numbers and letters on top of the patchwork base. I'll make the bodies the same, and vary the appliques and the backing.

And finally the one I find most interesting. It's an Ugly Fabric challenge for the guild. The Ugly fabric is that brown Thimbleberries piece. It's not ugly, just rather basic, so there's not much challenge to using it that I can see. I'm going to make a table-runner size piece with oak leaves, acorns, and I think bittersweet berries on a deep greenish blue background, using Jane Sassaman's applique technique again. Now this I'm interested in!