Monday, March 26, 2007

My favorite season

Spring is my favorite season. It's so interesting to watch the changes that happen almost in front on your eyes. Yesterday the trees were bare and today they are budding.

I took this picture on Friday before I left for the weekend. It's the first daffodil to bloom in this garden. Last year the first bloom appeared on March 16 but on that date this year we had a few inches of snow on the ground and no blooms in sight. Today there are lots more blooms, the result of a mostly warm, sunny weekend.

Something else I watch for is the first appearance of hummingbirds. You can see the pole that holds the feeder on the right but I haven't put out any food yet. This map and database shows that hummingbirds have progressed as far north as northern North Carolina and it will probably be another several weeks before they get as far north as Maryland. But I'm going to be putting out my feeder before that and maybe I will see one soon.

New stuff and an announcement

I spent the past weekend at a retreat where I spent many wonderful hours with good friends and also stitched up a storm. I made a 12" square for the SAQA auction and once I sew a sleeve onto it will be sending it off.

And I quilted for many hours on a piece that I had put together and painted just last week. Unfortunately, I'm having a problem with some of the paint I used, well, rather I'm having a problem with some of the textile medium. It's flaking off. Some of it I can actually just scrape off with my fingernail and it doesn't even leave the slightest impression that it was ever there. This might not be such a problem if the colors were supposed to be subdued and in the background, but this paint was supposed to be the accent. If it all flakes off, there will be no accents.
Here you can see in the center how the paint is coming off. It looks interesting but I can't stop the process so eventually it will be mostly gone.

I mixed some more up last night and let it dry and will test it today and if turns out that it's that particular medium, it's going into the trash.

Since I was going to spend my time quilting, I brought all my thread. As you might recall, I just purchased 179 new spools of thread and expanded my storage bins. What I discovered is that thread is heavy and that the tall set of drawers is not only too heavy to carry, it doesn't fit into my car very well. This is a problem I'm going to have to solve before I go on the next retreat and I think the easiest solution is to just get small sets of drawers and have several of them. Without wheels I could probably stack one on top of another.

I thought I had packed for the weekend very thoughtfully but I had forgotten something important: the little box that contains all the feet for my machine. If the free motion quilting foot had been on my machine it wouldn't have been a problem because I could have borrowed a regular foot from one of the 2 other Janome users. But it wasn't, and since everybody else would be using their free motion foot, I was going to be twiddling my thumbs. Luckily I was able to arrange to meet my husband halfway between and he brought me the little box. So I only lost about 90 minutes of sewing time.

And for the announcement: my artist page on has gone live and here is the link. They have selected five pieces to offer and here's hoping there is someone out there who is just the perfect person to give one or more of them a home.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Almost Spring

Although you couldn't tell by looking outside. The nasty storm that hit the Northeast last Friday left us without about 2 inches of sleety snow on top of ice and lots of rain. Thank heavens it wasn't cold enough for it to be totally snow because we had more than 2 inches of rain. Right now it's sunny but cold (28 degrees) and there is still snow on the ground. Later in the week it's supposed to be in the 60's and maybe I will get the first daffodil bloom.

The International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska has an interesting web site. Last month they held their biennial symposium where people from all over the world gather to hear lectures and panel presentations about quilts and also visit exhibitions. The goal of the symposium is to "celebrate quilts and quiltmaking." Michael James, who is the Ardis James Professor of Texiles, Clothing and Design at UNL and also the Chair of the department, delivered this lecture at the opening of the exhibition "Give and Take". This exhibition featured quilts created by artists who have been instructors, students or both at the Quilt Surface Design Symposium (QSDS). You can listen (and watch) the lecture, along with images taken at QSDS over the years. And if you're very patient and get all the way to the end, you will hear him quote from an email I sent him about my experience at my first QSDS in 1993. I sound very wise and profound. The gist of my statement was that 'you are where you are' and everybody is working together to become better artists.

I have finished the fifth (and last) in the series I'm preparing for the QSDI Invitational and now have to photograph it. This time I will be taking the slides to the local processing shop because I don't want to risk not having them back in time to send them off by April 1.

I've enjoyed doing this color series with its heavily stitched surface and want to continue with it. I'm thinking the next two will be black and white. That is, a black one and a white one, both of which will be challenges to me. The only white fabric I have is PFD, still in its raw state. I'm going to color them very slightly, something I have extreme difficulty in doing. The black will be black and grey, maybe with some discharge. Or not.

And I put in another order for more thread. I haven't ordered from Madeira in a long time, but I really like their 30wt rayon and wanted to order from them. I always start to hyperventilate when confronted with making decisions on which colors to order, so this time I just avoided that and ordered all of them. 180 spools of thread. One was out of stock, so I only got 179. Then I needed another set of drawers for storing thread, and a new algorithm for sorting. I used to store the cottons and rayons of the same color together, but that wasn't going to work any more. So now each each its own drawer, and I'm embarrassed by the amount of thread I have.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Quilting gloves

I have used these gloves for quilting for many years, and don't they look it? They're golf gloves with the fingertips cut off. I've never tried the gloves made specifically for quilting but it seems to me that knit gloves have too much stretch. These are lightweight leather and with the finger tips cut off I can manipulate thread and most things without having to take them off.

But I was forced to admit that I needed a new pair as I have worn a hole in the thumb. Off to the local sporting goods store to get golf gloves, size Ladies Small. Now, if you know anything about golf, you know that they only sell gloves as singles. Right handed people wear a glove on their left hand, and vice versa. Never having played golf, I don't know the reason for this. Never knew the reason for that little non-functional snap either until somebody told me it's for marking the position of the ball - you unsnap it and leave the one part on the green. Anyhow, it's pretty easy to find a Ladies Small for the left hand. But the glove for the right hand is non-existent. At least in the store where I was. Not many short left-handed female golfers. And they didn't have any gloves for kids either.

But other sports have gloves. I've seen people with gloves for weight lifting at the gym, and the finger tips are already cut out. Tried those but decided that too much of the finger is gone. Wouldn't provide enough traction. Next, batting gloves. They come in all sizes and I could find a Ladies Small. So I bought 2 pairs (they were on special, and because they come packaged as pairs I didn't have to suffer through the clerk telling me that you only need one golf glove), brought them home and proceeded to alter them to my specs. First removed the leather label on the back. And cut off the velcro band that snugs them around your wrists - don't need them that secure and it's a pain to have to fasten and unfasten it. Then cut off the tips. And then tried to stitch on the severed seam lines so they don't unravel. Suffice it to say it's not an easy task. There must be some kind of special sewing machine for making gloves.

My new gloves won't get as grungy looking as the old ones because the palms are black leather instead of white. And now back to quilting.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I've been quilting my fingers to the bone, figuratively anyhow. The quilting is finished on these two pieces and between the two of them, it took nearly 50 hours. Both pieces are approximately 50" x 50"; these are detail shots of the quilting.

The pictures have a somewhat rounded look due to being so close, I guess. The top piece is titled Deep Purple and the bottom is Yellow Brick Road. I still have to finish the edges on the purple one and that will take another few hours since it has uneven edges which require a lot of 90 degree turns. Then I have to photograph both of these. And finally begin quilting on the last of the five pieces, the red one.

These pieces are for an invitational show in June at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center, Columbus, Ohio. This is an invitational show sponsored by Quilt Surface Design International, and will run in conjunction with the QSDI Symposium.

My excitement for today is waiting for the service guy to come and fix our water heater. It spiked a temperature of 160 degrees on Thursday morning and then died. I'm hoping he can fix it with a new thermostat or heating element as opposed to our having to buy a brand new water heater. We have a logistical problem as a result of a furnace that was installed some years after the water heater and which boxed the water heater into a very tight spot. There doesn't seem to be an easy way to get it out without some dismantling of furnace parts. Which sounds like it could be a very expensive proposition.