Saturday, August 25, 2007

8 things

The Quilting Pirate tagged me to tell 8 not-so-obvious things about myself. No quilting content in this post, so please skip it if you're not interested.

1. I have two birthdays. When I was born, each town in the state of Washington decided whether it would be on daylight savings time or not. Can you imagine how confusing? My dad was in the Army, so I was born on Ft. Lewis (on daylight savings time) at 12:55 a.m. on August 14. However, even though my birth certificate gives the Ft. Lewis time, it says I was born in Tacoma (where Ft. Lewis is), but Tacoma was not on daylight savings time. In Tacoma, it was 11:55 p.m. on August 13. I think I should get to celebrate both days!

2. My family moved when I was 6 weeks old and I've never been back to Tacoma. My dad was stationed in Europe and we traveled while living there, so I visited 18 countries by the time I was 3. Too bad I don't remember them!

3. I'm related to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. I'm sure you don't believe that, but it's true -- when my Irish great-grandparents immigrated to the US, they chose to honor their new country by naming their sons Thomas Jefferson Sullivan, Benjamin Franklin Sullivan, and George Washington Sullivan (my grandfather).

4. I'm training to do a 3-day, 60-mile walk. (12 miles today -- done 8 already!) I am not the least bit athletic and have never done anything like this before. Wish me luck!

5. I used to be a medieval historian.

6. When I was 12 years old, I played the piano on coast-to-coast TV. Not so spiffy as it sounds -- we were living in the Panama Canal Zone, so the distance between the Atlantic and Pacific was only 50 miles. The show was a news segment where I was playing a simple song as an accompaniment to a bunch of 6-yr-olds in a rhythm band. My 15 minutes of fame, squandered!

7. I've written a soyfoods cookbook.

8. I have an overactive imagination. When I was 9 years old, I was completely convinced that if the Russians attacked the US (remember the Cold War?), I would be the first person killed. I had the whole thing worked out and it made perfect sense to me.

I have not been part of the online quilting community for very long, so I don't know who has been tagged and who hasn't. I tag those Q4P members who have not done this to do it now!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pink & Presents

Whoo! Here's pink, all done in purple. Nothing is joined, clearly there needs to be some trimming, all that will come later. I'm finding that my letters vary quite a bit in size, but I'm not going to do anything about that until I start laying them out. I may like some of them to be uneven, and I've already decided I want the words to be different in size. I'll have to see. I may have to do some letters over.

My kids are home, Jocelyn for a week, Valerie for four. They came bearing lovely gifts! Here are some Asian fabrics, which are hard to get where I live...
...and here are two very fun fabrics -- fortune cookies and cheeses! And the cheeses are classy ones like caciocavallo. Won't these make fun table mats?
And since I live in a land suffering from Trader Joe deprivation, they brought me 2 way cool TJ bags. (Your eyes are fine, the photo is blurry.)
Last but not least, they brought a fascinating book -- The Meaning of TINGO & Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World. I could not have made up the words in this book. Believe it or not, these are real words:

tingo - to take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by borrowing them (from Pascuense, spoken on Easter Island). This sounds like a good prompt line for a short story!

areodjarekput - to exchange wives for a few days only (Inuit)

awawa - the gap between each finger or toe (Hawaiian). This word came to me at the appropriate time, because try as I might, I cannot spread my toes apart. I just started yoga lessons, and there's an exercise that helps you extend that gap, and I'm working on it. Maybe I should take some before photos to check my progress against.

nakhur - a camel that won't give milk until its nostrils are tickled (Persian)

And with that, I sign out.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Jeff's amazing photos

So much going on! My kids are home visiting (hoorah!), I've pieced a baseball quilt for Project Linus, finished pink for my Stroop quilt, and planned and started a surprise quilt for someone who reads my blog. I'll post photos of those endeavors soon (though the surprise quilt will have to wait awhile). In the meantime I wanted to share a couple photos taken by my nephew-in-law Jeff. He's daddy to Julia and Andrew, who received my most recent I Spy quilt. Among his many other talents, Jeff is an amateur photographer. Well, 'amateur' in the sense that Olympic athletes were considered 'amateur,' since he earns his living at other things. He's a lawyer by day who transforms on the weekend to Phabulous Photographer-man who treks into the wilds of nature and emerges with a camera full of incredible images.

These two photos are from a recent backpacking trip he took to Kearsarge Lake in the eastern Sierras. They took my breath away! Many of his photos have these beautifully clear, crisply clean lines. I think some of them would adapt beautifully to quilts. If you want to see more of Jeff's photos, check out his photo blog, Fleeting Glimpse Photography.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I've wanted to see the Parthenon since I was in grade school. I had a sense of its space, how it would feel to walk through it, what it would be like to breathe the air and feel the sun of Athens. Sadly, today the Parthenon is roped off and the Acropolis is such a mass of tourists (of which I was one) that it's hard to appreciate it. Maybe it would be better in the winter. Athens is also a huge city that grew with no plan, and except for its ancient sites, there is little to recommend it. I was so disappointed. But not too far away are the ruins of ancient Corinth. It's not much, but they are not crowded and there is a lovely little museum with some wonderful mosaics from the old city. I was bowled over by the beauty of some of these. Look at this intricate design.

Here's a closeup of the center.
Some of the borders are intricate patterns. The colors in this one surprised me, and they are used in such a way as to give the design a sense of depth.

The twisted border below is really something -- look how they handled the corner.
There was also some pottery in the museum. I wish I had this pitcher and fish plate!

This pottery is simpler, but the designs are lovely. I especially like the lid in the foreground.
I loved the animals in their art. Look at this lion.
And these mythical creatures.
Here's a close-up of a goat from one of the border pictures above. I was amazed at how life-like it seems even though it's a mosaic. It seems almost painted.

And finally, here's what's left of the Temple of Apollo at Corinth. And take a look at that blue, blue sky. And amazingly, no tourists blocked my view!

Guilty Pleasures

Floribunda let us all in on some of her secret indulgences, and tagged me to do the same. Here are a few of my guilty pleasures.

1) I love to sing, but can't carry a tune in a bucket. So I act like a diva when I'm driving or in the shower. Remember that scene in My Best Friend's Wedding where the Cameron Diaz character, who can't sing either, goes to a karaoke bar and belts it out, and the crowd goes wild? That's my fantasy. Years ago I took one of those vocational interest tests that tell you what jobs you would enjoy, and my two highest scores were being a performing musician (alas, no talent) or a mathematician (I never went beyond high school math).

2) I like doing whatever I want, whenever I want (me and everybody else!). When I'm home alone for a few days, I indulge in doing just that -- quilt all day, have dinner at 3:30 or 10:30, don't put things away when I'm done, watch stupid TV, whatever. It's absolutely fabulous to do that every now and then.

3) I enjoy really fine wines. I can't figure out whether it's good fortune or bad luck that I've tasted a few amazing -- and expensive -- wines, because now I know how good a glass of full-bodied red can be. I look for occasions to splurge on something really wonderful. I pour a little into a big wine glass and swirl and sniff and look and finally taste. Wow!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sargamatha Shanti Art Quilt

This is a first for me! My husband just sent me a neat parkour video on You Tube and I decided to see if there were any quilting videos there. Yes, indeed, there are! They have an easy way to post it to your blog, too. I really enjoyed watching this quilt take shape before my eyes. Very cool. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I love piecing!

There are so many aspects of making a quilt, but the part that really grabs me is the piecing. I love it! There are so many types of piecing, and so many possibilities within each type. I'm doing two kinds of piecing now, and hope to begin a third and then a fourth soon.

First, I'm doing some traditional piecing. I just finished the top (minus borders) of my third I Spy! It went together very quickly, guess I've learned something after making my first two.
I have read several books on stars and hexagons, and none of them has adequately addressed the most basic techniques of joining the pieces together so the points match. A quilt like this needs the points to match, or you lose the flow of the design and piecing becomes a more dreadful nightmare with each succeeding row (don't ask me how I know). On my second I Spy I figured out how useful the little bunny ears can be in matching. But when you press your seams for minimum bulk, those bunny ears lie right along the seam line on every other intersection of every other row. What to do then? I had been putting a pin through the intersection and pinning on either side, and had reasonable success. But it was time consuming and difficult. Suddenly a simpler way occurred to me. Maybe everyone else has figured this out already, but just in case there's a quilter out there who hasn't, this is what I started doing and it works like a charm.

You can see how the alternate intersection on this row seems to be missing its bunny ears. That's because they are lying on the seam line.
But you can use your fingers to flip the seam to the other side to expose the bunny ears. I pin the two intersections on either side first, so that the weight of the fabric doesn't become a factor, and then flip those bunny ears up and place them right on top of each other. In an ideal world the bunny ears would match perfectly when you expose them, but in real life you often have to finesse them just a little. When you get them lying right on top of each other, stick a pin off to the side a bit to hold everything in place. (I can't believe I took a close-up photo with one hand and it actually came out!)
Then let the seams flop back down and stitch away. It works great!
As satisfying as I find this piecing, I've also been playing around with Tonya's tutorials on free pieced letters. I am enchanted by the look of them -- so fun, so whimsical! It's another kind of skill altogether, and for me, it's harder. When my points match, I know things are right. When I do free piecing, I have to rely on my own artistic sensibilities to decide whether it's ok. But it is fun, and I rather enjoy disengaging my perfect-point self and seeing what happens. Now that the I Spy is done (well, the hard part is done), I'm planning to finish up my wonky Stroop quilt.

In in the not-too-distant future, I want to try a small piece using Ruth McDowell's piecing techniques. Her quilts are amazing! I got her book on pieced vegetables even before I started quilting. Her piecing techniques are unique and I think will require a good bit of practice. She is truly an artist -- she can draw, and her fabric choices are unbelievable. If you haven't looked through her books, do. She just came out with a book on piecing, and I'm going to work my way through that.