Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sneak Peek

Here's a peek at a tiny section of my Booty Swap quilt.

A couple years ago I attended a workshop in hand applique but I've never made a single thing using it. So why did I decide to try it on this little quilt? Because I'm crazy! It's taking me much longer than I had thought. For awhile I disliked this piece (a process I seem to go through with every quilt), but I'm feeling better about it again. My biggest regret is that I didn't make a compromise between what I thought my partner would like and what I like to do. If I enter another swap, I'll try to find that happy middle ground. I have at least learned a new skill (origami flowers), worked out a design on my own, and tried some hand applique.

Monday, May 26, 2008

My kind of town

Chicago has a bad reputation -- think Al Capone and Leroy Brown, Upton Sinclair and fast-talking politicians (one reason why Chicago is known as the Windy City). But there's much more to the city than that, and I love it. DH and I just spent a weekend up there in an early celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary. I thought I'd share a little of downtown Chicago with my blogging friends who may not know the city firsthand.
Chicago is famous for its architecture. It's the birthplace of the skyscraper and home to Frank Lloyd Wright. We often take tours offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, but just strolling around the city you bump into the most wonderful things. Sometimes you might wonder why there's only the flat front of a building with nothing behind it.
But keep walking, and you'll see the building has depth, though it's a most unusual shape!
I love the Smurfit-Stone building, with its flat, diamond roof. I stooped down to get a photo of it with the black tulips blooming in Millennium Park in the foreground.
Millennium Park by itself is worth a visit to the city. Situated next to the Art Institute and Grant Park, and just across from Lake Michigan, it's a great place for a stroll. I love the Bean.
The Bean, officially known as Cloudscape, is a reflective, 3-D sculpture that you can walk into.

The inside is like a fun house mirror.
Here you can see me taking a photo of DH and myself reflected in the inside dome.
Walking from the Bean towards the Art Institute, you come to the wading pool and fountains. There are two tall fountains that mirror each other (there's one just to the right of the picture facing the tall one on the left).
There's a slide show of Chicago faces across the fountains, and the water performs all kinds of tricks. Here it is coming from this woman's mouth.
One of our favorite things to do in the city is to attend a performance at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre on Navy Pier. This time we saw A Comedy of Errors performed as a play within a play, set on a filmstage in London in 1940. It was fabulous, but we've come to expect nothing less from them. During the summer, Second City (Chicago's comedy theater where so many comedians started their careers -- Gildna Radner, Bill Murray, John Candy, Alan Arkin, John Belushi, and the list goes on...) performs take-offs on Shakespeare. Our favorite was Hamlet, the Musical. They actually stopped the play for a minute because one man in the audience couldn't stop laughing! But next to the performances, the best thing about the Shakespeare Theater is the bathrooms. Yes, you read that right -- the bathrooms.
The bathrooms have a long glass wall that provides spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline.
Chicago has a "museum campus" with an amazing array of museums along the lake. We always visit the Art Institute, and then one or two other museums. This time we tried one we had somehow never visited before, the Chicago History Museum on the south side of Lincoln Park. It was fascinating to see the city develop from Indian settlements in the wild onion area (where the word 'Chicago' comes from), to eventually encompass fur traders, a small fort, a railway center, the meatpacking industry, jazz, bootlegging, skyscrapers, etc. And take a look at this intricate needlework from a manual arts class in the Chicago schools in 1925. We don't teach this skill to our children anymore!
If you've been to Chicago, you know I've barely scratched the surface. But I've so enjoyed the tours of New Zealand, Paris, Australia, etc., posted by my fellow bloggers that I wanted to share a little taste of what's in my corner of the world.

And in other news ...

My DH told me about an interesting article in yesterday's New York Times magazine, Exposed by Emily Gould, who went from personal blogging to a job as a blogger. If, like me, you wonder about the level of self-revelation that's appropriate on a blog, or that you're comfortable with, you'll find her piece an interesting read. We quilters certainly don't get the scrutiny or response that someone like Emily Gould does, but within our personal spheres, the issues are similar. Are internet 'friends' really friends? How would I feel if someone were hurt by an off-hand remark I made? How much do I want people to know about my personal life? Do I even know who's reading my blog?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Flowers & cleaning

Here are a few more origami flowers, in various stages of completion, that will be part of my Miniature Booty swap quilt. The background is all pieced but I haven't put any flowers on yet. I love the blue here but it's not in the quilt -- too bad! Still have to finish cutting away the background on several of these (they should all have free petals).I checked out my partner's blog and am hopeful that this quilt will fit her style.

My sewing area is much better organized than it was this morning -- at the very least, it no longer looks like it was struck by a tornado. I have been working on so many projects, and have our guild's Project Linus fabrics, too, and all that stuff was overwhelming. I just couldn't get anything done in there. I cleaned up and did lots of tasks that were 5 or 10 minutes (trimmed some blocks, cut foundation squares, etc.) and then put things in their own boxes. Now there's a little space for the creative juices to flow.

Enjoy the weekend! I'll be in Chicago tomorrow and can't wait!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Awesome Booty quilt received!!!

I couldn't believe it when I brought the mail in today -- there was a big envelope from Toni, the Quilting Pirate. I knew it had to be my Booty swap quilt! Yay!!! I had seen her blog posts about it and had fallen totally in love with it and it is MINE!! Thank you, Toni, thank you, thank you!

Bright, happy, crazy houses -- wonderful! And such a cute quilting stitch around the border. It's just awesome and I still cannot believe my good fortune! The back is great, too:
Love that fabric, great label! Thank you so much, Toni, it's just perfect for me. I could not have wished for a more delightful quilt.

Finally, two people were tagged for the meme from last post. Check them out: Quiltdiva Julie at Me & My Quilts and Norma at Random Stitches. They should have their memes posted in the next few days.

Crafty but not quilty

DD Jocelyn is here for several days so I have been spending time with her. She's a knitter and is teaching me to make socks, which I think will be a great take-along project. She finished this adorable little baby sweater for a friend.
See how each piece is a different color?
She also made a 7-stranded challah. To our surprise, 7-strands is a little harder than braiding 3 strands, but not much. Four, five and ten strand challahs are much more complicated.
Turned out great, didn't it?
And neither quilty nor crafty:

I was tagged for a meme. I know some bloggers enjoy these and some don't, and of those who do, I don't know who has been tagged. I like learning a little about fellow bloggers, and hope you will email me if you haven't been tagged for this one and I will tag you.
Jill at Life with Nature Girl tagged me with this one. The rules are:

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
In May 1998 I was mom to an almost 11-yr-old and a 13-yr-old. I didn't have a regular job, but I was doing freelance nutrition writing and speaking, and some individual nutrition counseling. Hadn't learned to quilt yet.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
Meet my husband and daughter for lunch, finish my first knit sock (while my daughter is still home to help -- she leaves tomorrow), put out the trash and recycling, cut more origami flowers for my swap, yoga class

3. Snacks I enjoy:
nuts, leftovers, baked chips, popsicles, ice cream, toast with peanut butter, cereal, fruit, bread
4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Start some sort of foundation. Not sure what sort, but part of its focus would be to alleviate immediate suffering and part would be to work to change the things that cause suffering.

5. Places I have lived:
Oh my goodness, I hope you have a lot of time! My dad was in the military and we moved frequently. Here they are, grouped by state and country rather than listed chronologically:

United States
Washington - Tacoma (birthplace)
California - Calexico, Oakland, Manteca, Monterey, Salinas, Whittier, Berkeley (briefly), Palo Alto
Massachusetts - Pepperell, Ayer
New York - New York City (both Queens and Brooklyn)
Michigan - Grand Rapids, East Lansing (sort of and almost), Ann Arbor
Pennsylvania - Wayne (twice, briefly)
Georgia - Atlanta, Macon
Illinois - Urbana, Champaign

Germany - Kaiserslautern
Panama Canal Zone - both the Atlantic and Pacific sides
France - Paris

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tibetan & Nepalese textiles

Noah's potato peppercorn bagels are the best. Whenever we visit the kids, we stop by Noah's Bagels to get some, but as we strolled along University Avenue last weekend I was dismayed to see that Noah's was gone! What nerve -- left without even asking me if it was okay! But my disappointment was assuaged when we discovered that a shop selling Tibetan and Nepalese textiles had moved into Noah's space.
The rich, warm colors and thread embellishments are really striking. Many of the designs are quite simple, but beautiful nonetheless.
A few pieces had more complex designs.

This one is woven, not a quilt, but I loved the design and think it would make a great quilt. Sorry about the washed-out color -- it was hanging on a wall bathed in sunlight.

I actually bought a quilt since it was their grand opening sale, but haven't photographed it yet. There was also gorgeous jewelry! I hinted broadly ("Doesn't this look great on me? It's just my color! My oh my, I would love to have this!") and ended up getting a wonderful necklace for Mother's Day. And the kids tell me that Noah's is a chain, and I can get potato peppercorn bagels somewhere else. Perfect!

Another quilt in its native habitat
I forgot this one when I made my last post. This is the I Spy quilt I made for my great niece and great nephew (and that's my baby on the far right). Currently it's a tent top. And this family gets bonus points for using their quilts -- you can see two others that get lovingly dragged around, one made by their mother (my niece) and the other by, I think, another great-aunt.

Finally, this is one of the things I miss about California this time of year -- the golden poppies are in bloom. They're wildflowers and spring up unexpectedly all over the place. But after this little paen to my home state, let me just gloat that today's weather in East Central Illinois is much nicer than in the Bay Area. We so rarely have better weather than anywhere, but today it's sunny with a high in the 70's; it will break 100 as you head down the peninsula south of San Francisco!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Quilts in their native habitat

During the first year that I took up quilting (AQ 1, or anno quilting-i I, for you Latin scholars), I made quilts for my mother and both my daughters. I just spent a very happy Mother's Day with all three of them, and over the course of the weekend I photographed each of them with their respective quilts. Wish I had remembered to take a photo of my mother-in-law with her quilt a week ago, but next trip ...
This is my mother, who keeps her quilt on her living room couch. It's the second quilt I made (you can see the full quilt here), in a class where we learned to make pinwheels. We were supposed to work with quilting cottons but I fell in love with a loosely woven Guatemalan fabric (below, shown between the binding and the inner border) and just had to use it. If I were making that quilt now, I would change a lot of things, but NOT this fabric! I love it.
Here's Valerie with her quilt.
Val and her quilt live in a dorm, and the quilt shares honors with some amazing polka-dot bed linens. I have been asked how I could give Val a quilt to take to school, but I have no problem with it. Quilts should be used, and I hope it reminds her of home -- and any stray stains will just bring added memories. I can always make her another quilt when she graduates. Here's a photo of the full quilt.

This is Jocelyn with her African Coins quilt. She wasn't sure her bedroom was up to a photo session, so we relocated to the stairs.
I never got a photo of the back of this quilt, which is made of pieced batik flannels, so Jocelyn obligingly held the quilt open for the camera.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Purple Cows

I'm traveling, so no photos, but just had to make a quick Post. Michelle at Heart and Hands posted The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat poem, which I loved growing up. My grandfather had owned a bookstore and we had my mother's childhood book of poems by Eugene Fields. It had that, and the Sugarplum Tree, and Winken, Blynken, and Nod. All wonderful poems for kids! Paula the Quilter was blogging about The Gingham Dog and Calico Cat, and then added Purple Cow. ("I never saw a purple cow...") I just have to share another poem by the author of Purple Cow, who wrote seriously but was known for his purple cow ditty. Here's what he wrote:

Ah, yes, I wrote the purple cow
I'm sorry now I wrote it.
But I can tell you anyhow,
I'll kill you if you quote it!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Hot colors

My bull's eye swap blocks are done! I cut them in quarters and sent them off to my 3 fellow swappers this morning. Here are 25 of the 40 blocks I made (design wall limitations...).
We were going to do red/orange/yellow as our color scheme, but it seems much more orange/yellow, with lots of pink, at this point. But I like it. We'll each reassemble the blocks using the 40 quarter-blocks each of us contributes. I'm thinking I might see if these blocks will let me get a Mumbo Gumbo effect if I carefully choose center colors. Not sure, but I can hardly wait to play with layouts!

I updated my Hearts for Linus blog that I keep for the Project Linus donations from my guild, and that's about all the quilting-related stuff I've been able to do the last couple days. We did hear that the Central Illinois Chapter of Project Linus is going to be doing a great project for children whose mothers are in prison. It's really a wonderful undertaking, and I'll share more on that later. It's been very thoughtfully planned.

Tomorrow I'm off to California to see my mother and daughters for Mother's Day, plus I'll visit my brother and his wife and hopefully one of my nieces and her family. Can't wait! I should have internet access while I'm there but don't think I'll be able to post until I return.

Finally, I wanted to share this photo of Stone Circle, Whanganai Bay, Lake Taupo, New Zealand. It's on the cover of photographer Martin Hill's book Earth to Earth (which is on my wish list...).
A card with this photo sits by my computer, partly because I love the photo and partly because I love how I got the card. I was smitten by the photo when I saw it at the bookstore and almost bought it, but felt silly buying a card for myself. A few days later, my husband gave me the card. He had seen it and knew it was something I would like, so he bought it for me. I guess after 25 years you learn each other's taste pretty well, but it was nonetheless a delightful surprise.


We had a great time visiting my in-laws in New York! Even the air travel was easy. It was also exciting to see the quilt I gave my mother-in-law hanging over the back of her couch and looking like it was made to be there (which it was), although I neglected to take a photo. You'll just have to trust me when I say it looks great in her living room! I felt like I was rediscovering an old friend when I saw it.

My husband and brother-in-law were very obliging and took me to The Quilting Bug in Massapequa. What a stunning assortment of batiks! The shop owner entertained the guys by showing them the longarm ("It's like driving!") while I checked out the fabrics. I couldn't resist these two.
I also picked up some blacks and whites for my strip quilt. I just got a little of each, except for the one on the left, which I like a lot. The one on the far right has a little red in it for sparkle.
And what would traveling be without travel photos? This is hardly the Eiffel Tower, but it was the most interesting thing in the Indianapolis airport. Indeed, I've never seen another like it. Would you buy an iPod from a vending machine?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Hello, New York!

No photos, sorry! I ran out of time. I'm off first thing in the morning to visit my husband's family in New York. I haven't seen them in over 2 years, but now that I'm retired, I am able to go there. :)

We had a worknight tonight and completed TWO string quilts! Fantastic!

I'll be in touch when I get back early next week. Hope you all have a lovely weekend!