Monday, March 30, 2009


Windows. That's the theme of the 12 x 12 work this round and it will be revealed in a couple of days, but that's not what this is about. Ever since we moved into this house I have been looking at the beautiful new windows we had put in and wondering what, if anything, to do to them.

It is tempting to do nothing. I love the look of them bare and we live far back from the road, with no one to see in, so it isn't a privacy issue. But at night bare windows are so stark. So black.

I don't like curtains much. They can be pretty, but are always dusty (in my house at least) and we are a family of allergics who don't need dusty. Most are too fussy for my taste. When we bought the house there were draperies, with heavy rods and liners over the windows. I think they were custom made and probably expensive. They were shiny and polyester and had a very strange, to my mind, wide blue band across the bottom. I thought they were hideous.

So I've been pondering. I like shades, but I'm tired of mini blinds. The wooden blinds are nice, but dust catchers too. Really, my favorite window coverings are bamboo shades. Go figure. I love the way they filter the light, especially on a hot, sunny day.

Now, I just need to decide if I need to go get a couple more to go over the sliding doors. I don't think so. Less is more.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring fever

I finished this smallish (13" x 31") piece today. It is not for the green line show—too small. It is not for anything. Yes, the bottom is not square and the top is slightly narrower than the bottom. (intentional) My friends will be sure that aliens have taken over my brain, this is so unlike what I usually do. The bottom, dark fabric is a piece of plummy purple Jeff Gutcheon glazed cotton that I have been hoarding for about 15 years. I wish you could really see how delicious it is.
The most shocking part of all is that it has beads (gasp!) sewn on it—a lot of them. Beads usually don't appeal to me. What can I say. The green fabric said, "sew some beads on me—then do a bunch of hand stitching around them." I obey the alien voices.

The three larger things are little flat rocks that I picked up at the beach and have been rattling around the top of my sewing table for a year or so. I tried using them once before, but they looked stupid. This time I think they work. I think I have to call it "spring fever."


Easily amused, late at night.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

And so it goes . . .

One foot in front of the other. Ray has been working in the yard and making paving stones. Spring seems to be coming. Daffodils are blooming. It makes me want to get outside.

The stones are lined up across the grass to cure. They are destined for a little paving project. Don't they look good?

At night we can hear what sounds like hundreds of frogs out by the creek, but I don't ever see them. Do they hide during the daylight and just come out and croak their hearts out at night? I was out hoping to see some frogs yesterday. Instead I noticed this view of layered roofs.

Inside I am working on a small piece. It is becoming exactly not what it started out to be. I pulled out these fabrics, and more, with a very geometric idea hopping around in my head, but that green fabric, leftover from the tree, just begged to be cut into that organic shape and the quilting wanted to be the grass that I had sketched awhile back. It wasn't until I was nearly finished with the quilting that I recognized the creek, green with the reflection of all that verdant spring out there. Are there frogs hiding in there? Maybe.

Spring seems to be having it's way with things. Bring it on.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Something cheerful

This morning Gerrie emailed to see if I was OK. She said I had been very quiet on the internet. It is nice to feel missed....
I'm OK—pretty much. Still fighting the ends of the ear infections and feeling bummed out by the state of the world in general, but OK. So I am looking for the bright side. The cheerful. Look, right outside my front door. Those primroses are damned cheerful!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Busy Book

Awhile back my daughter mentioned that she had been looking for a book for Sofia that had buttons, hooks, zipper, etc. and had not had any luck and this planted an idea. I decided to make such a book as a special birthday gift for my granddaughter. It turned out to be a big project, starting with the design, shopping for all the parts, then rather time-consuming construction. But it was well worth it. She loves it and I am quite pleased with it. Were I to make another I might make a few changes, but all in all it works like I wanted it to.
Some of the tasks are easy. Some are challenging for a two-year-old, but the idea was for her to learn and for it to be of interest for more than just the present. The design is all my own and I limited it to things that open and close.

Even the cover has a closure—big wooden bead/toggle thingy and an elastic loop.

This first page is one I would do differently. The decorative stitching is messy. The varying thickness of the edge, plus the sewn-in zipper made it really difficult to stitch neatly.
Eyelet lacing and bow tying. I'm sure it will be awhile before she can do this.

Big snap. The heart comes out of the little purse, but is permanantly attached with a piece of cord.


Button. The star resides in the pocket.


My sewing machine can be programmed to make words. This is the first time I've ever used that function.

About that pinata...

It was a big success!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

An Elmo from another planet

Today is Sofia's birthday! She is having a small party this afternoon and the theme revolves around her favorite Sesame Street character, Elmo. (Who doesn't love Elmo?) Her Dad decided to make an Elmo pinata for her party and he has been working on covering balloons with paper mache all week. Yesterday he called me to help out. He was running out of time and had been called to come to work earlier than planned, so I picked up the parts and brought them home to finish things up. I started by hot gluing all the parts together, then covering them with red tissue paper, applied with diluted white glue.

I think my son-in-law did pretty well at getting the proportions right, just by using balloons. The arms and legs are made using those skinny balloons made to twist into balloon animals. The tissue paper covering had to dry before I could try to make this alien look like lovable little Elmo.

My daughter went to Target yesterday and got goodies to put inside the pinata and picked up ping pong balls and an orange plastic easter egg to use for Elmo's features. I cut his mouth and black circles for his eyes from card stock and glued everything on.

OK, I think he looks kind of like Elmo! Will he pass the Sofia test? That remains to be seen. He has a trap door in the back, from which party favors will fall, when a string is pulled. It seemed best not to go for the traditional blindfolded whacking that is the traditional way to get the goods out of a pinata. A blind-folded two-year-old, armed with a baseball bat just didn't sound right.

I just googled "elmo pinata" and yes, we could have bought one who might have looked a bit more like the real Elmo, but we are amused by our "Elmo from another planet."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Time flies

She is such a big girl. She'll be two on Sunday.

click for closeup cuteness

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Answering some questions

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the lovely comments on my tree quilt! Included in the comments were a few questions that I would love to answer.

Ann asked if it is for a specific show and where it will be seen. Yes, it is for a show called "Line Dance" that my fiber art group, High Fiber Diet, is having at the Umpqua Art Center in Roseburg, Oregon. It will be there April 17 - June 5. I am the chair of the show and I think it will be good and has an interesting premise. Each piece will have a horizontally oriented lime green line running through it—an element that will loosely unite all the work. And, again, to Ann. No, nowhere near Maine, though we are looking for other venues for the show. Do you know of a gallery in Maine that would be open to a fiber art show? I'd love to send them a CD!

Barbara asked if the design of my quilt is original and if it is hand-quilted. Yes, the design is original. I made a smaller piece using my own tree design about a year ago. You can see it here. I wanted to try it at a larger size and different techniques. No, it is not hand-quilted. The quilting is done on my sewing machine. It is what is called "free motion" quilting. The feeddogs are not engaged and the quilt is moved, by hand, under the needle—kind of like drawing if you held a pen still and moved the paper instead.

Penny asked about the bamboo hanging apparatus. This is a hanging method I developed several years ago and I really like it for certain kinds of quilts. It really appeals to me for quilts with natural themes, and I used it for a lot of the pieces I did for High Fiber Diet shows at the Japanese Garden. A lot of the HFD members liked it and adopted my method, too. It has become kind of a HFD signature finish.

I buy bamboo or wooden poles for this. I have found these at garden centers, craft stores, Pier One, Cost Plus, craft stores and even Ikea. I cut the pole a little wider than the quilt, then drill holes about 3 inches in from each end. The hole goes all the way through the bamboo. Be careful to drill them evenly! Using heavy thread, I stitch through the binding or edge of the quilt, leaving a long tail of thread, go up through a bead, then the bamboo, then another bead, then turn around and go back through the bamboo, the bottom bead and back through the quilt edge. If you can manage to do this all a couple of times, the connection is sturdier. Finally, end the thread back where you started and tie it to the tail you left and trim it so it doesn't show on the front. Everything should be snugged up as tight as possible. It looks sloppy if you can see the thread between elements. For large quilts, or flimsy pieces I have made a little pocket on the back of the top edge and inserted a small dowel to hold the edge nice and straight. For small quilts and very firm feeling quilts this isn't necessary. This piece, because of the large amount of quilting is quite firm, so it doesn't have the additional dowel in it.

Added: Linda asked another question. What size is it? Answer: 23" x 29"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


click to enlarge for a closer view of the quilting patterns

Sheltering Tree is finished. There are many things about this piece that I am quite pleased with. I loved quilting it and I like the results of the quilting. It does have that look of having been drawn that I was after. Making up the quilting as you go is quite exhilerating once you get past the fear of totally screwing it up! The medications I am taking for my ear problem interfere with my sleep, so as I have tossed and turned in the middle of the night, I have found it calming to dream up new quilting designs in my head. Now I am looking forward to trying some of them out on another piece!

I took the nearly finished piece to STASH last week and mentioned that I felt the color scheme was a bit boring and they all assured me I was wrong about that. I do love more unconventional color than this piece turned out, so, to me, it falls down in the color column, but I am eager to try this all over quilting/drawing on some less representational work and see how that works. When I showed this to my family the other evening, my 2 year-old grandaughter pointed to the sky and said, "water," which I thought was pretty perceptive. I do like the movement in the sky section, but I have to say my favorite part is the leafy motif in the tree. Click on the picture and take a closer look at that.

My hearing is getting better in increments—two steps forward, one step back. My ears pop and gurgle and my hearing improves as the day progresses, then is bad again in the mornings. I suppose fluid and pressure build up overnight. I think there is progress. I see the Dr. again on Thursday. I feel a much greater empathy for people with hearing impairments and understand why they say deafness is so isolating. Trying to follow a discussion is tiring and frustrating and it is very tempting to go read a book, go play solitaire on the computer—opt out of social interaction.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Domestic still lifes

Or is it still lives?

I haven't stepped foot outside my house today, except for a quick trip to the grocery store. It was cold and rainy out and nice and cozy in, so the choice was simple. I worked on the tree quilt for awhile and noticed how pretty the messy top of my little chest in the sewing room looked with all the thread spools. This is where I plunk them as I change thread on the machine. When things start falling on the floor I gather them up and put them away on the thread rack. (do I really need three pincushions/pin holders? I guess I must.)

I had everyone (kids, son-in-law and grandchild) for Irish dinner today.

I love corned beef with cabbage, potatoes and carrots. And, of course, right around St. Patrick's Day all those ingredients are available on sale.

My mother never failed to cook corned beef and cabbage every St. Patrick's day. She said it was in honor of our Irish heritage. Maybe, but from what I've seen of our geneology I don't remember an Irish branch of any of the families. So, I just go with the slogan that says, "on St. Patrick's day (or the Saturday before, as the case may be) everyone is Irish." Whatever. It's an excuse for a delicious dinner.

My hearing is returning, slowly. What a relief. I have never had an ear infection that bad.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Frustration is what I am feeling about my ear problem. I can't hear anything—OK, I can hear people if they shout directly into my face—not fun for them, not fun for me. I can talk on the phone quite well, with the sound turned way up. Otherwise, my world has been silent for the past week. Murky. Fuzzy.

It has been a hard week. On Wednesday I went to the Columbia Stitchery Guild meeting, celebrating the Guild's 40th anniversary. I would not have gone, except that I had to pick up quilts for the Green Line show. As it turned out only two people brought them to the meeting. I sat through a two hour meeting, including a video made 15 years ago about the guild. All around me people were responding with smiles and laughing. I heard nothing. Yesterday I went to the STASH meeting. Small group. Everyone tried to talk loud, but I didn't hear much. Last night I had another meeting, which I pretty much had to go to because I am president of the group. An ordeal. I went to my Dr. today. She added a course of prednisone to the antibiotics I am already taking and said if it was no better next week she'd send me to a ear/nose/throat Dr. As my son-in-law would say, I am feeling desperated.

So the good news (besides the fact that the new prescription cost less than $5—when does that happen?!) is that hearing is not essential to quilting. I have been working away on the tree quilt and adding the pattern I love, with quilting.

This has been really fun. I am only doing some minor pre-thinking and no marking, just quilting spontaneously and making up the designs as I go. Lots more to do in the tree itself, but you can see the leaf-ish pattern I am concocting for that. You can see the unquilted version here to get an idea of how much this is changing the piece. The quilting, except for the sky, is all done with a dark purple thread, which comes across quite neutral, but I think it is livelier than black would have been. The dark lines in the quilt, by the way, are also not black, but a charcoal gray color. I quilted the sky using white thread.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ikea hacker

I love the Ikea Hacker blog, where they show what people have done to change up items from Ikea. Some are extremely clever and creative. I was pretty proud of my Ikea kitchen cart that I stained and tiled, so I sent Ikea Hacker a couple of pictures and they are on the site today. See it here.

You'll notice that he refers to me as "he", which is not surprising when you have a gender neutral name like Terry, but is probably also an assumption that anyone doing things like staining and tiling is a "he". Oh well, I'm just happy he liked my hack.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Happy Birthday, Barbara Millicent Roberts

Did you know that is Barbie's full name? Neither did I. Barbie turns 50 today.
That photo is my own #1 edition Barbie doll, purchased in 1959 when I was 12 years old. I was really a little too old for dolls at the time, but I was passionately into sewing and designing clothes, so I thought Barbie would be a great little manikin for me. I made a million outfits for her. This original version of Barbie looks very much like the German Lilli doll that she was modeled after—a little more worldly looking than the later Barbies who were much softer in appearance.
Why have I kept my Barbie all these years? It was not love or sentiment. It was that I knew a long time ago that it is a collector's item, being a real #1 edition. If it were in perfect condition and I still had the box and sunglasses it would be worth some serious money. As it is, I don't know exactly what her value is. Doing some research on eBay tells me that the fact that her hair is in near perfect condition and she has her original bathing suit, shoes, earrings and especially, that stand, that was only used for the very first dolls, makes her fairly collectible. One of the shoes is split, which is a minus, however. I have considered selling her on eBay several times, but she has become my "ace in the hole" as it were. I always think that if something catastrophic, of a financial nature, happens I can sell her. When there was a question about whether Emily's insurance would cover her bills for giving birth to Sofia I considered selling Barbie. The insurance came through and I didn't have to. Isn't this wierd? At some level I don't even like her, but she has taken on a very symbolic significance for me!
When Emily was a little girl I thought I would never buy her a Barbie. My feminist sensibilities were offended by the body image issues and sexuality that Barbie represented. When push came to shove, however, she wanted one, her friends had them and she ended up with a couple. She was never all that enamored of Barbie and hers were discarded after a relatively short time. In retrospect I think it was a good course of action just to not make a big deal of it.
So, it is with a certain sense of ambivalence that I wish Barbie a very happy 50th birthday. After all, the older she gets, the more she is worth! Maybe she'll end up supporting us in our old age or sending Sofia to college. Or maybe everyone will come to their senses and she won't be worth a dime.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


I am tired of being sick and really tired of being deaf. I really can hardly hear a thing and Ray is getting tired of repeating everything at the top of his lungs. After days of denial and wishful thinking ("I'm feeling better today, really I am") I finally went to see a Dr. and learned what I already knew. Infections in both ears and in my sinuses. I now have ear drops and nose spray and big, huge horse pills of the antibiotic type—something for every hole in my head. I'll get better now. Meanwhile my longtime desktop companion glares at me and tells me to "snap out of it." I'm tryin'.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Next steps

Back to working on the tree today. I am feeling better, but my ears, while they no longer hurt, are almost totally blocked. I am practically deaf to all sound outside my head. Everything going on inside my head is amplified alarmingly. My pulse thumps continuously. Chewing is raucous. When I brushed my teeth this morning, my electric toothbrush sounded like a helicopter was landing on the roof. Most annoying. I am feeling very unsocial, so an afternoon in the studio was a good thing.

Fabrics are painted and fused. For those who asked, you can now see how the green line fits in. Now I have this idea to add pattern and texture with the quilting, almost like drawing all over it. I did some doodling on some scraps to see how I like it. I'm not sure, but I think I am going to try it. Once I get started I'll have a better idea of how it will work, I think.

Regarding yesterday's post—you guys are hilarious! I loved reading everyone else's favorite grammar and spelling peeves. You hit on a lot of the same ones that make me cringe. One of my favorite un-favorites is "Wallah!" (intending to say "Voila!") Makes me roll my eyes every time I see it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


OK, I know I am being picky, but this morning I read yet another blog offering me a "peak" inside someone's beautiful home. (I'm totally hooked on design blogs) I keep noticing that many, many people do not seem to know the difference between the words, peak, peek and pique. I keep reading that someone's curiosity was "peaked" or "peeked".

And so I offer, as a public service, the following:

  1. A tapering, projecting point; a pointed extremity: the peak of a cap; the peak of a roof.
  2. (Abbr. Pk.)
    a. The pointed summit of a mountain.
    b. The mountain itself.

  3. a. The point of a beard.
    b. A widow's peak.
  4. The point of greatest development, value, or intensity: a novel written at the peak of the writer's career. See synonyms at summit.
  5. Physics. The highest value attained by a varying quantity: a peak in current.
  6. Nautical.
    a. The narrow portion of a ship's hull at the bow or stern.
    b. The upper after corner of a fore-and-aft sail.
    c. The outermost end of a gaff.

intr.v., peeked, peek·ing, peeks.
  1. To glance quickly.
  2. To look or peer furtively, as from a place of concealment.
  3. To be only partially visible, as if peering or emerging from hiding: Tiny crocuses peeked through the snow.


  1. A brief or furtive look.

A state of vexation caused by a perceived slight or indignity; a feeling of wounded pride.

tr.v., piqued, piqu·ing, piques.

  1. To cause to feel resentment or indignation.
  2. To provoke; arouse: The portrait piqued her curiosity.
  3. To pride (oneself): He piqued himself on his stylish attire.

Any questions? Next week's lesson will cover Piqué, something altogether different!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Changing things

Today I painted this fabric to use in my tree piece. I think it's really pretty and I hope it works well for the tree. I have some ideas for doing things a little differently than I have been doing. I usually use commercial print fabrics, and I love them, but I am also fascinated with the processes for making my own fabrics. I struggle with this. It is hard not to see what other people are doing and want to do that, but it also feels very important and truthful to me to do things my own way.

Rayna wrote something on her blog tonight that really struck me. She was quoting T.D. Max,the author of an article about the late writer, David Foster Wallace, who was struggling to change his writing style. Max said "style runs so deep, you think you can change how you write. But to change how you write, you really have to change how you think. ..." Rayna commented that the same thing probably applies to visual art as well.

I have tried, in the past, to emulate other fabric artists that I admired and it just doesn't work. I go back to what I do, because that is what I do. It used to be frustrating, but I am resigned that my style comes from my way of thinking, which would be pretty hard to change in a big way, but should constantly change in small ways. Otherwise you are just repeating yourself endlessly. So I am working with my own painted fabrics, but I haven't lost my love of pattern and a kind of graphic line work. It may be a mess, but you are invited to watch over my shoulder. I'll tell you the truth and show you the mess, if that's what happens!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Making a pattern

Do you remember this little quilt? I made it about a year ago for a STASH challenge. Yesterday I decided I want to try to make one more piece for the green line show and thought I could expand on this idea. Fortunately I still have the Illustrator drawing I did for the small version. The new one will be bigger, so I enlarged the drawing to the size I want, printed it out on nine sheets of paper and taped it up on my front window.

The digital drawing is never exactly as I want it to be, so once I have it all taped together, I like to draw over it with a permanent marker and refine the line.

This is a very stylized tree, but I want it to have a very organic look, so I corrected some of the stiffer looking branches. I also tried to be sure that all the branches taper as they grow out from the tree and get fat where they branch out into new branches, as trees do in nature. I always notice when drawings or paintings of trees get these things wrong. Makes them look very clunky, even if they are intended to be non-realistic.

I left it hanging up all night and looked at it again this morning. Something a little out of balance there, in my opinion, so I rotated it slightly, taped some more paper to it and extended the branches.

Better, I think. I also decided that bottom, broken-thumb of a branch on the right has to go. It won't be there in the fabric version. I apparently decided the same thing when I made the small version. I had forgotten that until I found the photo to post here.

That is the full extent of anything useful I did today. Mostly I lounged around in my pajamas and slept. I have the crud—sore throat, full head and the worst are my ears, which are plugged, painful and I can hear my pulse thumping away in the right one. I'll call the Dr. if they still hurt like this tomorrow. So now, I'm off to bed. Hope I feel like cutting fabric tomorrow.