Monday, May 28, 2012

Fool's Gold 2

I'm not actually in this round robin, but I was pleased to be asked to "angel" for it. Here's my work on Arlene's block.
And all the blocks so far.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Eclipse photos/ red hot pokers

I just love these flowers. They are so other-worldly. The colors don't look like something to be found in nature. Well, maybe in a tropical rain forest, but not in the desert southwest. They came out a bit early this year; they usually bloom for my birthday, but there are so many of them this year, there might still be some blooming come June. I tried to count the blossoms, and lost track somewhere around 42.
During the recent eclipse, we noticed this strange light phenomena. First we saw it on the house behind (east of) ours.
There were all these crescent shaped spots of light on the west-facing wall of the house, like little images of the sun with the moon in front of it. The sunlight is filtered through the leaves of the willow tree in the front yard, and through the leaves of a cottonwood in the back, so I'm not sure this is an actual eclipse-related thing or not, but it sure looked interesting.

It's often a great thing to be married to a mechanic/ handyman. He had a welding hood in the garage through which we could safely see the actual eclipse. But the eerie light and the dip in temperature was equally interesting.

More cats

Here are the next two cats to be finished (at least I think the CQing is finished; they're obviously not stuffed yet). This one has one of the free-form fan shapes that I enjoy doing, some hand-dyed lace, and two bullion stitch bees.
And this one has some silk ribbon embroidery.
These next two are smaller, and actually have other-than-black fabrics in them. The full-size lying down cat is almost 12" tall, while these two are about 9". This one has a hand-painted pansy on the purple patch. I learned that not all fabrics are good for fabric painting. This one kept just absorbing the paint. It would look okay when wet, but as it dried, it just got fainter and fainter. Had to paint over it several times. I probably should have just taken the patch out (it was already pieced in as I was painting it) and replaced it, but after awhile it became a challenge: who would win, the fabric or me? I think it was a draw. The pansy has a sort of soft-focus look to it that I like, though, so it stays.
This one has some interesting fabrics in it. The stripe is actually wrong side up, but I liked this side better. The center patch is black satin; the way it's catching the light makes it look like it's blue or green, but it's black.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A sad slice of life at the drivers' license office...

I had to get my license renewed this year, for the first time in 10 years. And because I'd done it by mail last time, I actually had to haul my carcass down the the state building and do it in person. It was probably a good idea, because the photo on my license was horribly out-dated. I mean, I had long hair back, wait, that's the same. Okay, my hair was brown back then....uh, at what point do you have to switch over from saying your hair is brown to saying it's grey? My weight has changed....oh, wait, that's NEVER been accurate before, so why start now? My eyes are still brown...and kind of bloodshot. To top it off, I kept blinking when the photographer took the photo, so I got to do it again and again, with a line of people waiting for me to just stop blinking and get it done.

I'd been dreading this errand, having heard many horror stories about the long wait, and being asked for proof of something or other that no one thinks to carry with them. A utility bill? Sure, I collect those, but they're home in my hermetically sealed vault! A fishing license? Yes, I do happen to have one on me; from 2010. (In all honesty, all they needed was something to prove my mailing address, and as it turns out, my checkbook would suffice.)

I was prepared to make a day of it. I had a book with me. I felt pretty sure I wouldn't starve to death, but didn't dare bring water, for fear I'd just have to go to the bathroom and lose my place in line. The meter where I parked had a time limit of 2 hours, which, as I was plugging in my coins, I hoped wasn't too optimistic on the part of the person who decides what maximum time each meter gets.

What a sad and frustrating place. During the one and a half hours I sat there, I heard one of the workers defend herself on the phone, "I was not being snotty, ma'am, I'm just telling you what you need in order to get a driver's license." At one point, they had to ask a little old lady who had waited over an hour to come back with a note from her doctor before they'd renew her license. They had to ask her rather loudly, "when is the last time you saw your doctor?" A teenager sitting next to me said, not so loudly, "when is the last time you hit someone with your car and didn't know it?" Then she (and her parent) laughed at her own wit. Someday, I thought, if you live long enough, that comment could be hurled in your direction. Sadly, I don't think there's any way the little old lady should be driving; she seemed so confused by the time she was done talking to them that she had to be pointed toward the exit. And any doctor who gives her such a note should probably be asked to spend some time at the driver's licensing office as punishment.

Then a Spanish-speaking man with one leg many inches shorter than the other came in with a little boy about 9 years old (probably taken out of school for this duty) who was obviously there to translate for him. He needed to take the driving test, and didn't have all the paper work he needed (proof of insurance, registration, etc.) so he had to leave and go get it and come back. Just walking across the room looked like a hard thing for him.

Then an old man who'd had an accident was being required by the police to retake the written AND driving test in order to keep his license. His shoe was untied and I was afraid he was going to step on the laces and fall down.

The last thing I had to do was have that new, up-to-date photo taken. I tried to tilt my head up, to reduce the likelihood that any extra chins might want to jump into the photo with me, but the photographer told me to lower my chin. I think he said "chin" and not "chins", but that could just be wishful thinking. The fact that I kept blinking when he tried to snap the photo made the other people waiting in line chuckle, though, so at least some good came of it. Maybe that was my good deed for the day.

And when I got to my car, I still had 13 minutes left on the meter. Way to go, Parking Meter Maximum Time Setter Person!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cats, finished!

Here's the second embellished cat block:
And here they are all finished and ready to go to the book store! Just in time for an art and jazz festival and Mother's Day weekend.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Crazy quilt cats and a fabric-inspired block

These are the cats that inspired my attempt at making my own. I believe these were made from a vintage crazy quilt, and a particularly lovely one. Perhaps it was too damaged in some areas to be displayed as a quilt, and this is certainly a good alternative to have the good parts still be enjoyable. They sold on Ebay for $81 for the pair.
The first of my pair is done. This one is sitting up, but the other will be lying down like the two on Ebay. I had it almost together; stuffed and with the bottom panel pinned on, but it just didn't look or feel right to me. It was too fat and too floppy at the same time. To make it less floppy would require more fiber fill, and that would make it more fat, so I was in a quandry. I let it set for a few days where I could see it, and finally decided (in the middle of the night) that it needed some stiff interfacing to help it keep its shape. I took the bottom panel off, unstuffed it, turned it wrong side out again, and stitched some heavy-duty interfacing on the back side. Then I turned it again, stuffed it again, and it still stands up, but it has a flatter CQ side, which shows off the stitching better, in my opinion. And unlike the cats on Ebay, it is free-standing.
This is a block that I felt like piecing just because of that salmon colored moire taffeta (oh, how I love moire taffeta!) in the upper right side. My trunk that I keep my CQ fancy fabrics in is so full it won't close, and that fabric is a recent purchase (from Salvation Army) so it was on the top, whispering to me, "use me in something...anything!" I was compelled to go through the trunk and pull fabrics to go with the salmon. I also worked in the crocheted edge of a damaged doily. It was ripped in two spots, and by cutting it at those points, I was able to use both pieces in this block. I absolutely love using someone else's previously made and discarded art in my CQing. That's recycling at its finest!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fool's gold-Barb's block, and cats

This is the block I did for Barb in the Fool's Gold RR. I got to use 4 of the many trims I've hoarded for this RR, and I got to stitch some birds.
I saw some CQed cat shaped pillows for sale on Ebay. They were made from vintage quilts, I believe, but I thought they'd be fun to make from "scratch". I asked Margie, owner of the bookstores where I work, if she'd be interested in offering them for sale if I got some made, and she said yes. So here goes:
Foundations for the simple cat shape, both sitting and lying down.
The ones on Ebay were pieced from lots of black and other neutral colors, with vibrant stitching and motifs, but I chose black and grey fabrics. I used one figural print per cat.
And this is what I have done so far. The cats on Ebay were lightly stuffed, and kind of flat. They could be propped up against something, but wouldn't stand alone. I think I'll try to make mine with flat (and possibly weighted) bottoms so they can stand freely.