Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hang It Up!

I love this quilt! I made it several years ago, using an Alex Anderson design. There's not a shred of originality to it, but it was fun to make and put together, and I'm pleased with the blend of colors. The reason for the post however, is to show that I FINALLY was able to hang it where I want to, and to put in a plug for the Hang Ups Company. This is their No See Um hanger; the reason for the name should be clear. I like the way nothing shows but the quilt, but they do make a hanger with a visible wooden hook if that's the look you like. There's a bracket that fastens to the wall by adhesive or screws, and a slotted rod goes into the sleeve of the quilt and hooks onto the bracket through the fabric. The rod telescopes to various lengths. The hanger comes with clear instructions and a little level to make it easier to hang straight, and there's a demo video on the web site. A great product, made in the USA too.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Retreat

I spent the weekend at a retreat at a lake south of here. There was lots of chatter, food (both nutritious and not-so-nutritious), fabric shopping at all the nearby shops, and sewing. This area of north central Indiana is rich in fabric shops, including some small Amish ones that don't even have electric light. This made seeing fabric tricky on a gloomy fall day. There's beautiful new fabric out there, and even some of the older fabric is new to me, since I've been resisting shopping recently, and am trying to use my stash.

I made some red and white stars, and to continue my traditional phase, worked on a pile of green stem units for this basket block. Talk about Slow Cloth! Still, it was an enjoyable weekend with pleasant companionship, even though not terribly exciting. Now to unpack.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Take It Further in Houston

I donated my January Take It Further Challenge piece to Ami Simms' Alzheimer Quilt Initiative, and it will be one of the 1,000 small (approximately 9 x 12") quilts she is hoping to sell at the Houston International Quilt Festival to raise money for Alzheimer's research. Several well known quilters will be sitting at the booth and helping to display the quilts. You can read about it and see the quilts on this page of the Alzheimer Initiative website. I'm so pleased about this; it's one way to have a quilt at Houston!

Ami's project is such a great cause. I hope everyone fortunate enough to go to the Houston show will stop by the exhibit, look at the donated quilts, and even buy one!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thoughts on Sarah Palin and Sexism

Relax. This isn't really political, except in the broadest sense.

Lots of ugly sexism out there. I've heard about the insulting T-shirts, but my focus is different.

I think it's fascinating the subtle, or not too subtle forms, that sexism can take, even from Gov. Palin's supporters. This stuff didn't happen to Hilary Clinton. Perhaps Sarah Palin attracts it because she's young and very pretty. Here's what I've noticed.

1. At the debate, when asked about his running mate, Senator McCain said he was proud of her. A little paternalistic, maybe?

2. Last week there was a flap about the un-retouched cover photo on Newsweek, which was supposedly evidence of the magazine's partisanship. (Never mind that the text of one of the articles clearly stated a point of view. Words are too difficult to read, perhaps.) Is Gov. Palin running for Vice-President or for Ms. America? Calling attention to the supposedly unflattering photo as though it were important is the insulting thing, not the photo itself.

3. And finally the most important thing: If, as seems likely now, Obama wins, Sarah Palin will sink into obscurity outside of Alaska. She's clearly an attractive, even charismatic figure to those who like her ideas, and she's done some good things as governor. But by pulling her into the national spotlight before she's ready to handle it, John McCain hasn't done her a favor. Quite the opposite, I would guess. What he has done is use her for his own purposes, apparently to "energize the base" and enliven his campaign. By doing so, he has made her such a target of ridicule from the left and an object of scorn for "intellectual" Republicans, many of whom will blame her for McCain's defeat, that any chance at a national political future is unlikely. So a man takes advantage of a woman. It's a new twist on an old story.

Maybe events will prove me wrong on this, but that's the role of the pundit, right?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Perfecting the Product

One thing I don't like about making these stars is using a template. You can rotary cut diamonds ordinarily, but to make the stripes or plaids chevron into the center you have to use a template. I started by tracing around the template, but even though I cut inside the line, it still wasn't totally accurate, and some of the stars have these little bumps.

Then I checked my copy of Sally Collins' book Mastering Precision Piecing, and tried her technique of cutting around the template with a small rotary cutter. She says the secret of not shaving the template is to keep the cutter on the fabric until the cut is complete, not lifting it. This seems to work. I bought a small rotary cutting board for this process, and the price was worth it.

Here's a better looking star I made with the new cutting technique.

Friday, October 10, 2008

More Stars, and Organization Tool

I've made a couple more stars, the plain ones because I need practice before tackling those split ones. It's fascinating to see the effect of different stripes, and of course the same stripes going around the star instead of vertically look different still. The possible variations help to make something that goes quite slowly interesting.

And here's a free, recycled organization tool. These are the plastic boxes that salad greens come in. I've found them wonderful for sorting different cut-out pieces, threads, or other parts of the work-in-progress mess. They stack, and so don't take up much room, and the items are easily found. I don't save the covers to use because stacking provides built-in dust protection. And of course using the containers like this helps me feel less guilty for buying expensive, wastefully packaged stuff! Also, the soup kitchen where I volunteer gets lots of donated cakes, and the plastic lids from those make good larger bins for storing pieces of fabric I've pulled for future projects.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wheel Spinning Continues...

Another project idea that I've had for a while is a Lemoyne Star quilt using red and white striped fabrics, sort of a peppermint effect. I don't know whether I would go with the split star, or the plain one, or both. The split is really pushing the envelope of my piecing skill; I've done it, but the results are far from perfect, as this one shows. The irregular stripe makes it look worse that it is. Striking block though, isn't it? I don't have a plan for how to set them either. My inclination at the moment is to go ahead and make a bunch of blocks and see what happens.

If anyone has any tips for pressing these blocks, I'd appreciate hearing them. I used Alex Anderson's instructions, and she presses the center seams open. That seems very bulky, but perhaps bulk is unavoidable.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Week without Sewing

Instead of sewing, I've been to a family wedding, driving 1,000 miles; I've cleaned the house; I've been watching the news, reading political and economic blogs instead of quilting ones; and yesterday, because it's fall, I made Barbara's delicious lentil soup AND a pumpkin pie. And tomorrow we're meeting some old friends in Chicago for a brief get together.

Today I hope to pull some fabrics and decide on my next project. As I drove through Illinois and Missouri last week, I was struck by the beauty of the soybean fields, a mix of dull golds, bright yellows, and dozens of shades of green. A beautiful color plan, I think. I was originally going to use some blue fabric I bought several years ago, but I may change my mind. Whatever I do, it will probably be a traditional pieced quilt. I'm not feeling very arty at the moment.