Saturday, November 26, 2011

Finding Fabulous Freebies

 Here's some of the fun stuff from the freebie pile Bron brought to our last CQFA meeting from FabMo.  She always finds the most interesting stuff to bring to us and we all politely divide it up, there's never been any pinching or hitting or yelling, this is not Black Friday at Walmart after all.  I liked these four fabrics and thought it would be interesting to make two pieces one, green based and one red based, building around these as focuses with a lot of the other fabrics I've been collecting from Fabmo lately which are easily divisible into red vs. green.  I wonder sometimes what my brain is doing sometimes, I really do.  Why red and green? Who knows.  I couldn't tell you.  Maybe it will all become clear after I actually make the quilts!
 I liked this gold mum print a lot, the scale of it and the background fabric color.  I think it will make a great applique on something.
I'm going to hem up the floral embroidered fabric as napkins.  The stuff on the right is wallpaper samples,which is all bug paintings, the title of which cracked me up, Timorous Beasties.  Sounds so Gorey-esque huh?

Monday, November 21, 2011

All of a sudden it's time for Thanksgiving!  Can you believe it?  Are you ready?
And all of a sudden we're hosting the family, and some friends, all together 14 people if everyone comes.  Which is awesome, and I can't even express how much I'm looking forward to it, but it is going to take some doing to pull off.  Good thing my son Zach is coming home from college for the first time on Wednesday, (yay!), another set of hands that like cooking will be helpful.  
I've dug out my recipes, made my list, now to steel myself for a trip to the store tomorrow.
Here's some of what I'm making, I recommend  all these recipes, I've used them before in case you're looking for something yummy to try this year:

One new thing I'm trying is Thanksgiving Star Cider, I have a feeling I'll be needing it...

We're also having plumbing issues (of course), and I have a big hole in the kitchen ceiling, lovely, so very very appetizing. 
 Hopefully this will go off better than the first time we ever hosted Thanksgiving when our stove element decided to go out in the middle of cooking the turkey.  Yes, we finished the whole thing by turning the broiler on and off every ten minutes for hours.  It actually turned out pretty well considering.  

In case you're looking for music for the holiday, you gotta check out the NPR All Songs Considered
  Songs for Stuffing Thanksgiving Mix.  It's awesome, and includes Alice's Restaurant naturally...

Hope if you're celebrating Thanksgiving this week it is filled with peace, joy and fabulous food.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

So Very Close To Done

 Two years ago for my birthday, as my big gift, my dear husband agreed to help me make me the design wall I'd always wanted for my studio.  We went out and bought the insulation board, the wood trim and the flannel.  And then a bunch of stuff happened, blah,blah,blah, and all the stuff just sat there, propped up against the wall.  I used the insulation board as a photo background many times, but it wasn't the useful design wall I wanted and needed.  I continued using the back of a flannel-back picnic tablecloth tacked up on the wall as my "temporary" design wall.

Recently, he had a rare day off between his many trips back and forth to China and asked me what I wanted him to get done around the house before he had to leave again, and for once I was selfish and said, "let's actually make the design wall."  It involved a lot of outdoor sweeping out on the driveway to get the area clean enough to work with because I didn't want all that white flannel dirty from the start.  It really was a two person job handling the glue and getting the flannel down without lumps or folds.  I knew I couldn't have done it all by myself.  The spray glue worked really really well and we had just enough.  Originally I was going to cover both of the boards together, but we realized it wasn't going to work getting it back into the house so we did each one on it's own.  The flannel is affixed to the back with good ol' duct tape, and lots of it.

So as you can see it isn't really done, because it isn't affixed to the wall with the wood pieces.  We'd forgotten since so much time had passed that the two boards together are 1" too big for the wood to overlap enough at the corners to screw them to the wall.  So one of the panels needs to be trimmed down an inch along each edge and then we can finally put it up on the wall for real.  It still works pretty well as is just leaning there against the wall. Think it will be another two years? We shall see...
Unfortunately Zelda the WonderDog left a pawprint, she decided she had to investigate as we were moving around and I caught her just as she stepped onto one of the boards.  We'd been joking about the cats lying down on the spray-glued insulation boards and getting stuck, at least that didn't happen.  So now I have to decide whether to leave it as a memorial, or try and clean it off.  I think I'll keep it, it's not too dark, and it will be nice to have that reminder of her in my workroom.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Learning Photoshop Elements

 I finally got started with learning Photoshop Elements by taking a beginner's class geared for quilters at Always Quilting, it was taught by Lynn Koolish.  It was the perfect class for me, I got over my fear of using the program, finally figured out what layers are, and fooled around with a bunch of my pictures to get some really fun and different results.  Lynn was a great teacher, very prepared, very clear in her instructions to all the people in the class who were at very different levels.  I learned way more than I thought I would.  This program is really versatile and I was amazed at what you could do right away.

 A door in Port Townsend
Combining the door picture with the grapes.  This was one of my favorites, I think I'll make a t-shirt out of this image so I can wear it. 
 A silly one adding words to a picture of my dashboard, my digital readout has been spotty, especially when it is really hot in the car, I never know what parts of the numbers will show up.
 A pump from Vikingsholm in Lake Tahoe.
 With a zillion layers and some words that say: I Was Full In The Past
 A nut holding up our deck at home.
 Looks like a quilt design to me!

 I like this one even better.
 My hand on the river beach in Boulder Creek.
 HomeDepot plus J.R. Bob Dobbs was too hilarious to pass up taking a picture, remember Church of the SubGenius from the 80's?
I found that totally random pictures off my cell phone can end up making an interesting collage (at least to me!).  I think it is because the pictures I take with my cell phone are kind of like ripping out images from magazines that I like, so they go together in my brain somehow.  Anyways I like how this one turned out, a lot.  And yes that's an x-ray of my hip in there, hope it doesn't weird you out.

So will I use Photoshop Elements for the quilting or mixed-media art that I do? I would say yes, if anything for design inspiration, for a new way to collage, and also for things to print out on fabric to include in quilts.  There are a whole lot of possibilities...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Goodbye and Farewell to Zelda The Wonder Dog

Unfortunately I have some really sad news to share, Zelda the Wonder Dog died last night.

We got her in September 2003, at the Santa Cruz SPCA, so we had her for eight good years.  She's only the second dog our family has ever had.  We were looking for a small to medium sized dog, but when I saw her in her pen, she gave me this look and I swear I heard her say in my head "just please, can you get them to let me out just for a little bit, you don't have to take me home, I swear, I just need to get out of here."  She was the only calm dog in the place, all the other ones were flipping out and jumping and barking at us.  She just stood there looking at us so patiently, and hopefully, so we did, we got the SPCA helper to come over and let her out so we could play with her outside.  She was so happy just to be out.  And we all laughed so hard when she dug in the big water bowl like a lunatic and splashed it all over.  She just had this big, ebullient personality that you couldn't ignore.  So she changed our minds in that instant and she was ours and we were hers.

She named herself, when we were filling out the paperwork, and I was asked what we'd like to put down as her name, she looked up at me and I swear I heard "you can call me Zelda." Which I scoffed at because then everyone would think we'd named her after the video game character, but no, she really wasn't, I always maintain, she named herself.

Zelda loved the water, unless it was being sprayed at her out of the hose.  But she took over the kid's old wading pool as her own, and would jump in and out of it during the hot summers, digging, always digging in the water.  She really loved swimming in the river, always trying so hard to finally catch one of the ducks.  She didn't like fetching sticks all that much, I don't think she saw the point in it, she would just take them and chew them to pieces, but she did like chasing balls.  But you had to make sure to take it away from her or she'd completely destroy it.  She practically raised our youngest cat, Spike, we called them the dynamic duo.  They were always going in and out of the house together, following each other around, sleeping with each other.  Spike's going to really miss her.

We don't know how old she really was, last year the vet told me he thought she was probably 15 years old at least.  So we knew she wouldn't be with us much longer, her breathing problems were getting worse and worse, so I'm happy for her that she passed away as easily as she did.  My son Alex and I were with her as she took her last breath, so she wasn't alone in her final time. I'm just glad we got to have so long with her in our lives.  She was a truly special dog that I don't think I'll ever stop missing.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fabric From All Over

 Another bag of world textile treasures arrived from my Aunt Suzi from all her travels teaching English all over the place.  She's so kind to think of sharing all this with me, I'm a lucky girl.  I thought I'd share some pictures because so much of it is unusual and different to my eyes.  And a great addition to my fabric stash.  First are these batik panels.
 They're both quite large and have great detail.

 A really nice bordered batik print, red on black. There's maybe enough for a nice skirt I think.

 Not sure of some of the fabric content on these,some are possibly polyester blend.  Not sure why but this one had an elephant printed along the edge in one spot.  

 I like a lot of the labels and printed logos, they're just so different than what I'm used to seeing on US products.

And finally this thick woven one,  isn't it gorgeous with that subtle lighter blue stripe?  There's a lot of this one, maybe enough for a jacket.
Thanks Aunt Suzi!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Halloweenie Halloween

 Our pumpkin carving this year was late again, by one day, becoming a Stiller family tradition.  The timing brought back memories of my unfortunate hand injury two years' ago.  I only was able to bring myself to carve out one eye, (I'm such a Halloweenie!)  so Alex and Marc had to slice up the rest.  I scooped out the insides, roasted the pumpkin seeds and drew three of the faces.
 This was Alex's, those round teeth are awesome, but they took forevvvveeeerrrr for him to carve.  But he didn't give up and it looks great.
 I liked this shot because of the light effects.  I actually used a tripod with my new camera so I could get some non-blurry dark shots.
 These two pumpkins are different for a good reason, the rind on them was almost two inches thick and super hard!  Too tough to cut safely, so we decided that trying to carve was crazy.  We got out the electric screwdriver and did dot-to-dot holes around the designs, but it turned out the bit wasn't long enough and the holes didn't go all the way through so the pumpkins were dark even with a lit candle inside :-(
 Alex tried using a skewer to poke on through.  Here's our pumpkin carving table complete with screwdriver, knives, sharpies, skull goblets of pomegranate grape juice and a sack of Halloween candy.
Skewering in action.  I love how intensely orange this picture is.   The final solution was to find a longer bit for the electric screwdriver, that finally worked and the candle light could shine through the dot-to-dot design.  It was worth it, I liked how they looked when lit up.

I was lame and didn't take pictures of the three of us dressed up for Halloween.  Too bad because I finally finished my gold fairy costume and it looked pretty fancy with gold hairspray and makeup, etc.  I got Alex to put a ton of gel in his hair,he went as a character from a webcomic that he likes that has pretty straight hair, didn't work at all on his very curly hair, but it at least looked different than his usual style.  I also got Marc to wear eye liner for his wizard costume which was rather a surprise at how good it looked on him.  So booo, for no pictures.

Hope you had a fun Halloween this year!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Around The Immediate Neighborhood

 After many attempts with the new camera, I finally caught a pretty good picture of a bee in our mimosa tree this year.
 Oh oleander, unsung heroine of California freeways and my driveway.  Poisonous yes, and of course beautiful too.
 Don't forget to look up once in a while!  Hard to remember when you're walking through the forest sometimes.
 Zelda the Wonder Dog, still goes on walks, it just takes her a lot longer to get up and down our hill than it used to.
We had a small, inadvertent berry harvest this year.  I was a neglectful gardener due to my hand surgery and sheer laziness, so the berries didn't get pulled out from where they always try to grow, and we ended up with some freebie surprise berries right in our yard.
What is this? An aster maybe?  I just loved the color, so close to blue in the right light.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Zig-Zagging Through PIQF

Last month I met up with Jaye and her mom, Mary to see the PIQF show in Santa Clara.  It was a great show this year, and it was really fun to see it together with them. We each notice really different things about quilts, so it's fun to talk about them all at once.  And it was really great to see Jaye's quilt Zig Zaggy hanging in the special exhibit New Quilts of Northern California (yay Jaye!).
 Jaye and I both bought this template from Come Quilt With Me for our next hey-cut-me-one-of-those-out-of-your-fabrics-when-you-feel-like-it quilts.  We did that using their templates (which are great, very well-made) for the Tumbler quilt I'm still working on and her Eye-Spy quilt.
We're both going to do our own background fabrics and cut out the windmill shapes for each other.  I haven't tried to make a block yet, hope it isn't too hard.
I had to buy these lovely soft fall colors, dyed in Kenya along with some very cool rolled paper beads.  Oh man the guy running this booth, Akonye Kena was a hoot, I could have chatted with him all day.
I also bought a new ironing board cover but I haven't put it on yet, so I'll tell you about it after I've managed it (wish me luck, it's a little involved).

I noticed in the quilts that I took pictures of  that I was focused on noticing many things like:

  • interesting stitching, both machine and hand-embroidery 
  • use of other pre-quilted/embroidered/embellished/exotic textiles 
  • unusually shaped quilts (hooray! finally!)
  • circles
  • leaves 
  • interesting found objects as embellishments
  • dimensional shapes as part of the quilt
  • text/fonts on the quilt surface

Thursday, November 03, 2011

New Camera New Orchid

 New Camera! Woot!  And a new orchid to photograph too.  This is my first indoor orchid, and I can already see why people get addicted to collecting orchids, they really are a special sort of flower.
 Still learning all the bells and whistles on this camera, and boy are there a lot on this one.
So far I like it a lot though. In case you're interested, it is a NikonCoolPix P500.
Thanks CostcoRebateCheck...

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


Yesterday I showed you a small detail of this quilt that is on the show postcard for the California Fiber Artists "California Currents" show at the EBMUD gallery, and today here is a picture of the whole thing.  This is my piece called WaterWord.

 And some more detail shots so you can see some of the stamping and writing I did on the quilt surface.  This was all done after the quilting was completed.
 I used a several times over-dyed piece of muslin that had some writing in sharpie which still showed through to the other side a bit, so it had a textured look already along the edge.  I wrote over those showing through markings with several different pens with the phrase
"The Word For The World Is Water".

Here's the artist statement that I wrote that explains the choice of those words:

Artist Statement:
The Word for the World is Water which is written several times on the piece is a take on the Ursula LeGuin short story title "The Word for the World is Forest". It just came to mind as I worked on this piece, I found that I liked the rhythm of the words and how they looked as I wrote them flowing along the edge representing a shoreline. The squares and rectangles represent the human imposed water systems and controls. The natural state of water and the managed state of water both working together to sustain humanity.

This quilt contains hand-dyed muslin, quilting cottons and upholstery weight fabrics.