Here's a gratuitous shot of Lucy helping to clean up after dinner. She's wanting to lick items in the dishwasher and has to be restrained from actually climbing in. It's great to have such dedicated kitchen help...
The weatherman brought nothing but gloom and rain all weekend. On the bright side, everything is greening up beautifully. But just the same, I'm just hungry to be outside in warm sun and this weekend that wasn't going to happen.
So I hunkered down and finished the 250 three inch ninepatches I need for my Double Ninepatch quilt. There's still far to go in piecing on this quilt but I'm on my way.
I'm thinking to add a pieced sashing--sort of a peaky and spike arrangement--that will add some fun secondary elements to this quilt. More about that as I figure it out myself.
Saturday night we met son Will and his SO Kelley, for dinner at a favorite Italian place in Milwaukee. It was a fun evening, and we had an occasion to celebrate--our 36th anniversary is April 28. It was a huge treat to have Will and Kelley with us to mark this milestone.
So the thing is to not let the dreary weather dictate the mood or the activities--a good weekend all around!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I trudge from day to day and think there is not much blog-worthy going on in my life, but little things pile up. I mean besides this little bit of snow, which we certainly hope will be this year's LAST.
The most exciting event of this week: I received a nice heavy box in the mail on Monday. New African fabric! Directly from Africa! My daughter's SO had spent three weeks in The Gambia and had gone out of his way to find me a selection of African cottons from the local market.
I love this selection for its variety. There is one print of humongous, ginormous scale, one wild and crazy print, one small scale print, and one damask. Well done, E.!
Wouldn't this one make a great sarong?
The hand is for scale...
I love this batik design of wheat sheaves. Or some kind of sheaves.
Another large-scale design:
This one below is a damask that has a diamond pattern in the fabric weave, with white fish, and random-appearing blue fish superimposed. I love the idea of the surprise element in the fabric weave.
Pretty excited about all of this...
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Finally motivated to finish a book.
One of the podcasts I listen to on my walks is Books on the Nightstand, hosted by Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness. Both are in the book biz and talk a lot about new releases, but they do the occasional podcast about books you should read but may have missed. This is golden for me because I miss a lot!
One of these shows discussed The Mystery Roast, a novel from the early 90s, written by Peter Gadol. It sounded just interesting enough--I tracked down a copy in our library system and found I enjoyed it a good deal.
The Mystery Roast concerns a spur-of-the-moment theft from an art museum and how the theft alters the life of the thief and those around him, for better and for worse. The action centers around a coffee shop where the proprietor scrambles the beans in his grinder and customers guess at what they're tasting. Hence the title. It's not really a dark novel, although a story like this could have swung in a much more ominous direction. And there are hints of magical realism. Fun.
Just an enjoyable book, one I never would have stumbled across if I hadn't listened to Books on the Nightstand. It's always interesting how the reading journey moves from book to book.
A couple coffee table books from the library:
First, Forties Fashion : from Siren Suits to the New Look by Jonathan Walford.
I loved reading about the constructed, engineered clothing of the forties and how the fashion industry was impacted by World War II. And not so funny--the story of how German teenagers could end up in a labor camp for lighthearted teen dressing.
Look at how features of the fabrics are put to work in this suit, with perfectly matching seams around the body and those perfect bias pockets.
And this dress, with the pleats arranged to work with and to coordinate with the stripes. I just love this stuff, and heaven knows, you don't ever find such care in todays' ready-to-wear. Truly a lost art.
Forties designers were in love with drapery. You can see it in skirts with drape-y detailing on seams, and on hats like this one that don't seem to know when to quit.
And novelty prints! Here are jumpers for forties teens. Very Shirley Temple in Since You Went Away.
And how about a wartime Japanese kimono? What I wouldn't give for a yard of this fabric!
I also grabbed Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts out of the hands of our processing staff as fast as I could. What can I say? It's perfection, and looks to be full of great tutorials and ideas for projects of all kinds.
Just a sample of nature-inspired crafts. Acorn napkin rings,
and faux birch bark candles. Around here, we call this sort of thing "Up North %$#&", but in Martha's hands, it's pretty much divine.
Monday, April 13, 2009
It's not warm enough for outside gardening yet but spring is starting to fuel the urge for greenness. So this weekend I spent the better part of Saturday not sewing but making a different kind of big mess--re-potting and wrangling plants. I always have loved indoor plants, and have a lot of them, stopping just short of being the crazy plant lady. At least, that's MY perception.
It was way past time to freshen things up a bit and to re-do some plants that had gotten root-bound and top-heavy.
I've never been a big cactus person but seeing this made me want to dress up my mother-in-law's tongue plants just a bit.
And a variegated philodendron got a new home in a flea market pot.
But my first loves are my ferns:
And this baby will be a gift for a co-worker:
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
I've always been highly allergic to applique. That's probably because I've never been a huge flower fan.
Who could possibly NOT like flowers?? Well, it's not that I don't like them; I've just never found them hugely interesting as a theme or motif. And while I really admire and appreciate the artistry in elaborate floral applique quilts, they just don't grip me. To be perfectly honest, they bore me. There. I said it.
But flowers that are stylized or exaggerated or folk arty--now that's getting more into my territory. That's what first intrigued me in the Sue Spargo designs. So now, here I am appliqueing flowers. Wool flowers, folk art flowers, but flowers nonetheless. It would be reasonable to figure that hell has at least partially frozen over.
Here's a bit more of a close-up on the developing Spargo blocks, which are really turning out to be fun, despite containing the dreaded applique. I am confronting the beast.
This one below is a detail of the block at the top of the post. I tried a bit of embroidery on top of the wool pieces. The embroidery uses perle cotton.
This block below is also pretty much finished--I added a few buttons to the wool 'flowers', fastening them on with French knots. It had been a long time since I made any French knots!
Here you can see a bit more detail. I'm liking the buttonhole stitch around the round flower! This was also done with perle cotton.
Here's a block just begun. The stems are narrow strips of wool, and I've been whip-stitching them down to the base, as you can see. The stems are so narrow--I liked the look of this better than stitching through those fragile stems. And the thread adds some texture and a design element. And I'm all about the design element!! Don't look at the unevenness of the stitches--after all, this is Folk Art.
It was easy to do--the wool sticks to itself very nicely, and other than a pin or two and a bit of glue stick, everything stays in place pretty well.
Finally, here's a block I made on the first weekend of the project. This one will probably get a bit more embellishment--embroidery, beading, or buttons. Fun!
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Our weekend in Sparta was a big success. We stayed here,
in what is known as Beaver Creek Cottage, located directly across the street from the LQS. The house was cute and well-appointed. Once again, we pooled all the notions and resources and stitched away.
A bit of Merlot helped oil the gears too.
One lucky Spargo-ette is working on her 10th block out of 12. I have six blocks more or less ready to go, although several of them may get more embellishment. We were all very pleased with what is happening as the blocks came together on the house design wall.
Some of us are working from kits, but still there is fun variation among even the kitted blocks.
The project is fun, although I have to admit I'm not working on it much at home. The friendship aspect of it all is key.
Sparta is in western Wisconsin, near La Crosse. We spent just a bit of time exploring the countryside--lots of rolling farmland, Amish buggies, and rocky outcroppings. I finally got to visit the Salem Stitchery, a shop that has set some of my friends over the moon on past trips to this area.
Salem Stitchery, located on a farm in West Salem, Wisconsin, specializes in supplies for stitchery and knitting. We were blown away by the broad selection of notions and accessories. The sucking sound heard was a number of my buddies getting pulled back into cross-stitch and needlepoint. (I'm resisting the pull as I still have an unfinished Scarlet Letter sampler that's been waiting patiently for a number of years.) And sewing antiques--the proprietor has shelves and shelves of sewing-related antiques. Great fun to just walk around the shop and look.
The next Spargo get-together is planned for June.
Up next: more on my Spargo blocks.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
OK, I'm revving up for the weekend. A paid Friday off for me this week!
And as luck would have it, this is the weekend of Sue Spargo-rama #2. The usual suspects and I are heading to Sparta, Wisconsin Friday. We're staying in a guesthouse available through a Sparta quilt shop (it's so good to be buddies with a Checker rep who gets around and knows everyone in quilting in the state...). And it will be a repeat of last time--the pooling of resources, the intensity of sewing, the drinking of wine. But better than last time--an ENTIRE weekend of intensive Spargo-ocity. And this time I don't plan to be sick. That will help with my productivity and general good humor.
:: :: :: :: ::
A bit of excitement-by-proxy here last night. The phone call came at about 11:00 p.m. from a close friend of my daughter. The conversation went pretty much like this: "Don't worry--Caro's all right but she can't talk because the paramedics are working on her".
That got my attention. Apparently she had been in bed and was bitten near her temple by her cat, who always has been an ornery S.O.B.
Apparently there was quite a bit of bleeding which was pretty scary. The good friends and the paramedics were summoned and she was transported to the ER. All ended well, with a tetanus shot. One friend had accompanied her to the hospital and the other stayed behind, cleaned up, did laundry, and had things nicely back in place for her when she returned home at about 2 a.m. Nothing beats good friends who can step in and help out when needed. Many thanks to Jen and Jurgen.
So all's well. It's a good thing I'm halfway across the country from that cat.
I would like to take bite out of his head and see how he likes it.