Thursday, January 29, 2009

Table Runners

Here are some table runners I finished in 2008.  This first was a sample of the Four-Patch Posy block.  Stack four repeats of a motif, cut in half both way, then arrange in kaleidoscope style.  I had some seed packet fabric which was perfect.    Sashing and borders are gingham.

This is a pattern called Long Lines.  Very simple.  I made a smaller one in blues and golds with koi fish -- a motif like the fish can be cut in half and a strip inserted and the eye fills in so it appears whole.  My son and daughter-in-law have that one.

This next table runner has been the subject of many jokes.  I cut way more 2"x5" strips than I needed, so I made a king size quilt out of the leftovers.  (Of course, I had to cut more strips!)  When I finished it, the center looked kind of blah next to the border, so I went in the backyard and gathered some leaves and traced them.  I cut those shapes out of similar colors of batiks, then cut a few identical ones in half down the center vein and sewed half of one leaf to half of another one.  It's subtle -- you would think it was all one fabric, but it gives depth and texture.  Then I raw-edge appliqued them to the center of the table runner.  It turned out very well.

Finally, this next one was out of the box for me.  The background of each square was embossed using Shiva Paintstix and rubbing plates.  Then the leaf on each used a different paint stick technique.  In theory, when you've made all six blocks, you've learned all the techniques for using them.  I'm sure some artistic folk have come up with a lot of new ways, but it's the basics.  I haven't used them since, but keep drooling over the photos in Quilting Arts magazine.

Did everything on my B list today
Started knitting the Ocean Waves scarf in lovely handpainted yarn
Gave the cat a bath and survived

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Guests at the birdfeeder

We have anywhere from two to four deer every day at the birdfeeder and birdbath. They've eaten all the bark up as far as they can reach now. Sometimes we have a mother with one or two of last year's fawns; she licks seed off the feeder and knocks some on the ground for the young ones.

I wonder how they get through the snow without breaking their delicate legs, but mostly they do. The other day, coming up the driveway, three jumped across and leaped into the woods -- a beautiful ballet.

Today I balanced my chequebook, which has been much easier since I started using a credit card for almost everything. But I was still off $675 and couldn't find it. (Good thing I'm married to a banker. In fact, I met him because I had trouble balancing my chequebook.) A task that should have taken ten minutes took two hours. No wonder I don't get any sewing done!

A balanced chequebook
Enough money left to give some away
Wildlife in our woods

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Good Life -- Now

Two years ago, on one of the coldest weekends of the year, I was at a quilting retreat in rural Sauk County.  One of the women, coming in from outside, mentioned that there was a friendly kitty outside.  When I took my walk-around-and-get-the-kinks-out break, I went out to see it.  It was friendly, indeed -- doing figure-eights around my legs.  I picked it up -- skin and bones; its spine was like the pop beads of my youth, and I could put my finger into the joint of its hip socket.   It was our first day there, and the only leftovers we had were from lunch:  chicken artichoke casserole.  I put some on a paper plate and took it out.  The kitten ravenously devoured every morsel, including the artichokes.  I picked it up again, and tucked it under my coat, where it nestled in and began to purr.

My daughter-in-law Claire was with me; I asked if she would be willing to drive me and the kitten to the vet, and she agreed.  We were about an hour away, and it was a little after 4 PM on a Friday, so I called the vet, said I was bringing a rescue kitty in, and if I was a few minutes late, would they wait?  They said yes.  

Claire began the drive nervously, repeating, "That cat's going to bite you!"  "No, it isn't," said I; it was curled on my lap purring like crazy.  After about fifteen minutes, it went sound asleep.  It was probably the first time in a long time it had been full and warm.

We got to the vet on the dot of 5 PM; I asked them to keep the cat over the weekend, have a vet check it over on Monday and test it for feline leukemia, then call me.  Monday noon the vet called and said the test was negative, but the cat was starving (no kidding), had fleas and ear mites and, no doubt, worms, an infected eye and a broken tooth.  Also that it was a female, about two years old, and had had kittens, which undoubtedly died because she was too thin to nurse them.

I asked the vet to deal with the fleas, the ear mites, the worms, the eye, and inoculate her against feline leukemia, and call me when I could pick her up.  Then I called my husband, who was very happy having only one cat in the house.  But he's also a gentle and compassionate man, and was surprisingly easy to persuade that we needed to give this kitty a good home.  Here they are:

She has been a joy and the source of great entertainment -- a little clown.  She's also very good with the grandkids, much more tolerant than the older cat.

Olivia has been wanting a kitty forever, so we decided that this would be her kitty that lives at Nana's house.  They are quite a pair:

On these cold snowy days, I'm so glad to know this little cat is inside, warm, dry and with a full tummy.

a rescued kitty
a beautiful granddaughter
a loving husband

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A retreat for the strong-hearted

So far January has not been the doze-in-front-of-the-fireplace kind of time I fantasize about in November and December.  I have not been willfully neglecting this poor blog for so many months -- life is what happens when you have other plans.

Last weekend my daughter-in-law and I went on our annual quilting retreat in Door County, Wisconsin.  When we arrived Thursday afternoon, the temperature was -17 F.

But, as I tell my granddaughter, "The women in our family  are tough cookies."  We had a wonderful time, spending as much time walking around outside gaping at the beauty and taking pictures as inside doing needlework.

It's a unique ecosystem --a  peninsula between two large bodies of water (Green Bay and Lake Michigan), and it's the transitional area between the Northern Hardwood Forest and the Boreal Forest.  It is stunning, especially in January.  Going up there for five days over MLK, Jr. weekend has become a tradition among my close quilting friends.  The fair-weather tourists have long since gone, and quiet reigns.

Snow reigns too.  It is austere and opulent at the same time.  We had six inches of snow on Saturday, in bright sunshine, so it truly appeared that diamonds were falling through the air.

The paths through the woods are right out of a storybook (Narnia).  

Here flowers are wearing white shakos.

This is one of the unheated cabins -- we stay in the few that have heat!  We take our down comforters and hot water bottles and are snug and warm.  And we know how to dress for the cold.  

I had low expectations for what I would accomplish -- and met them:  I finished my grandson's Obama socks (the right one says President and the left says Obama) so he could wear them for the inauguration on Tuesday.  I finished appliqueing a block which I started last June.  I am taking a two-year class to learn hand applique, and the first four blocks went surprisingly well.  It was beginner's luck -- the fifth block is awful, and I was so discouraged I couldn't get myself to pick it up again.  But I finally convinced myself that someday I will look at this quilt and say, "Wow, I've come a long way!"  So I finished it.  And I cut out the next one.  Last, I appliqued over a mistake on a top that's now ready for the quilter, once I get the backing together.

I have watched more television since Obama's nomination acceptance speech than in the past 30 years.  I know our country has huge problems, but we still have natural resources, we still know how to work, we're still inventive.  There's nothing wrong that we can't fix.  I'm so relieved that we now have people in government who can figure it out without getting hung up on ideology.

One of the blogs I like to read is Sara's Scraps.  Sara ends each post with gratitudes for the day, and I like that.  I think I'll steal the idea from her.

A warm house
Fresh homemade bread
Lois reads this blog