Monday, July 30, 2007

Day at the Zoo, part II

I did say I had more photos. And no, the elephant was not the quilting inspiration -- I just really like the picture and my daughter was thrilled by the elephant sculpture that sprayed water.

The quilting inspiration came in one of our last stops of the day. Brookfield Zoo has a fantastic butterfly exhibit. It is located in a "greenhouse" (I have the " " because while it is screened, it isn't closed to the outside air) that has been landscaped and planted with butterflies in mind. The plants smell wonderful (and after the primate house and portions of the indoor fragile desert areas -- this was a "good thing") and the colors are absolutely amazing. In addition to the colors -- well, imagine walking into a movie set idea of a butterfly garden. Hundreds and hundreds of North American butterflies zooming around in colors that rival the plants.

The colors on these little beauties really got me thinking about the way I use color in my quilts. Can't you just picture a quilt based on the colors found in a butterfly in the same rough proportions? I think it would be an instant recipe for color success. Just look at this one (sorry it's blurry -- some of them just didn't sit still for long but it's clear enough to get the color story). Black with punches of bright clear blue, red, and orange. Add in some lime green as the "neutral" background and you would have something spectacular.

And how about this one? The bright yellow of the flower with the browns, blacks, oranges and tans of the butterfly. Again, how can you go wrong with this combination? I'm not really a brown person. It's a color I don't generally use. I prefer its brighter cousin orange. But this combination could tempt me mightily. Add in some of that grass green from the leaves and you could have a truly stunning quilt.

And finally, this one. I'm also not usually one for neutral colors. If there is one thing universally missing from my stash it would be fabrics in the neutral range. If I am making a quilt that needs them -- I have to go out and buy them specifically for that quilt. This beauty could change my mind. Look at the browns, tans and whites. The white almost looks like it has tinges of palest, almost iridescent blue. Add some serious punches of chocolate brown with some deeper orange -- quiet, but what a punch visually. And yes, while some of the butterflies were hard to get photos of, there were a few that just seemed to sit there and pose for me. This white beauty was one and so was the one above.
So that's my quilting inspiration at the zoo. Pure color stories. I like the shapes on the wings, and of the butterflies, but my quilts don't go that way and I really can't see me making an applique butterfly quilt anytime soon. But using the colors in them -- oh yeah, that I can see. As for the zoo -- we didn't see anywhere near all there is to see. We decided to take it easy and make sure it was enjoyable -- and not too much for a 2 year old to take in. That way, she will want to go back. We managed to do that -- and she's not the only one who can't wait for the return trip!

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh My...

Nope, I'm not just having a Wizard of Oz moment. Instead of quilting today, I spent it out in the sun with some real lions...

Actual tigers...

And even a bear or two...

In fact, we spent the day with a whole host of animals at the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago. (which, may I say if you ever get the chance to it!)

It was my dd's first ever trip to the zoo and she had the very best time. I don't know who had more fun, her or me watching her discover all the animals from her books in person! She liked the big cats and the polar bear cub -- but the animals that really got her attention were in the Children's Zoo -- she couldn't wait to point out which animals she recognized and what sounds they make! And if you're having trouble seeing what she's pointing to here -- according to my little darling, this was "Mama -- sheep! Baaaaaa!" (and cows went "Moo" and chooks went "brawk, brawk" etc. )

She also had a fascination for this beauty. Why she decided to sit and stare at a bird of prey as large as she is for so long we still don't know. But she also felt the need to wave "bye-bye" to it as we moved on to look at the other animals in the children's zoo area. Of course, Leah here is a pretty impressive example of an American Bald Eagle -- but still -- a little bit odd.

I have way too many pictures to share for one post -- so I'll continue tomorrow (including some that are really making me think about color and placement in a quilt at some point). But, before I fall into an exhausted heap from sun, fun, and keeping up with the boundless energy and excitement of a 2 year old on an adventure -- this one I just had to share. The primate house at the zoo is fantastic and this particular photo just seems to say something. What? I'm not entirely sure, but something!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

'Cause I Can't Crochet

Ok, I mentioned recently that I can't crochet. I've tried. I just can't. For the most part I am ok with this. I can live without it. BUT -- I love crocheted afghans. My grandmother made me this lovely one when I was a baby. (notice -- over 30 years old and the pink is still intense -- gotta love that acrylic yarn!) I remember rainy days curled under my mom's green and white striped one (also made by my grandmother) sacking out in front of the television. I had a twin sized pink and white one that was on my bed as a kid as well. Add to this I keep seeing these "ripple" afghans on other people's blogs. Really. Lots of other blogs. There's even an entire blog devoted to a "ripple along". I want to play. But. I CAN'T CROCHET!!!!!! ARRGGHHHH!

So what's a poor quilter who secretly harbors the idea of owning a ripple afghan to do? Hmmm. Die a frustrating and ripple-less death I guess. Hold on a second, not so fast -- enter the Bleeker Street fabrics. These just sang to me. And, I know this probably isn't the designer's intent -- but they reminded me of the 70's. The decade of my childhood. The decade when this fascination with a craft I cannot do developed. Ok -- really pretty fabrics, I really shouldn't buy them. I have other projects I need to do. Add in the Denyse Schmidt quilting book I bought after seeing the lovely quilt projects Samantha over at Diary of a Mad Fabri-holic was making (fun book btw -- some really cute projects, though I don't always love her piecing techniques. Way too many templates for me but you could definitely adapt to some free piecing) and you have a quilter obsessed. I spent breaks from finishing my Holly Jolly Christmas top looking at the Denyse Schmidt book and calculating yardage as well as design/color options. And thinking, that maybe, just maybe my crochet handicap could be overcome. A trip back to the LQS to buy the fabrics with plan in hand and, I may not be able to crochet...
but I CAN cut, piece and put together a quilt top that is totally inspired by my love of crocheted afghans! This one went together really quickly and despite all of the bias edges (um -- every row after it is put together has all outside edges composed of bias *shudder*), having to match seam points, and trying to work with a rather large twin sized top in my tiny working area -- it was FUN! (oh, and another thanks to dh for acting as my human quilt rack so I could get a photo of this one for you this morning) I love the way this one came together and the way the colors work.

And thanks to Judy over at Quilting with Ragdolls, I have a strange thought that maybe I can quilt this one by myself. (I really must be insane for this -- but I'm gonna TRY) Nothing too complicated here, I'm not up for that, but some straight line echo quilting of the zigzags (a la DS's recommendations in her book) will give the look of the individually crocheted lines as well. So, the backing is prepared, I pressed the ripples out of the batting I bought yesterday, and I'm ready to move some furniture so I can baste this puppy up. With any luck, I will be quilting on this one tonight. And unlike some of my other quilts -- this one had a name even before I began. This one -- is 'Cause I Can't Crochet.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Short break for reading...

Like many of you, I took a short break from sewing this weekend to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Nope, no spoilers here -- but can I just say WOW?? And, admit to a tiny bit of sadness that Harry's saga is done. I've been reading these books since shortly before the second book came out. I can mark certain life events by what was happening when the books were released. Including the first midnight release I attended for Goblet of Fire -- the night before I had to pick up my aunt at the airport to help my parents move several thousand miles away. And The Half-Blood Prince -- precisely 20 days after the birth of my daughter -- and me taking her, in her carrier, to get my book at midnight. So many memories, not only of the characters but of my life reading the books. *sigh* Oh well, I still have one fun part left. I've read the American version -- now to get my hands on a British edition to round out THAT collection. (um, and yes, I have paper back versions for the American ones as well -- ok, so I may be a bit obsessive about my HP books!)

So, now it's back to sewing and working on my Bleeker Street fabric quilt. I'm almost done. By the end of the day (even before that really) I should have a flimsy to report. Wooo Hooo! In the meantime -- one more hint :0). I know, I'm being a stinker on this one! But really -- I'm having a ton of fun with this one and I can't wait to show it all together. Until then -- have a great day!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mi, Mi, Mi....

Oh, wait a minute, I wasn't supposed to SING -- I was tagged by Sue over at the Magpie's Nest for the MeMeme that Finn started. Oh, yeah! So, without further ado -- and a few days later than I thought I would get to this here it goes:

5 Things To Do Before I Die:
  • See my daughter grown, happy, healthy, and relatively well adjusted

  • Visit Paris again. I love this city.

  • Visit New Orleans with my husband again. We got engaged there -- on the steps of St. Louis Cathedral at the stroke of midnight on Halloween. All around a magical night. And a magical city.

  • Go to the British Museum (oh, and the rest of London too :0) )

  • Live -- yes, kind of a prerequisite to dying but, I'm one who believes like Auntie Mame that life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!

5 Things I Can Do:

  • Kiss "owies" and make them better
  • Perform minor surgery on furry companions to "fix it"

  • Balance my checkbook (not that I do it often enough, but I CAN)

  • Multi-task -- not that special when you realize that any mother out there learns this one in a hurry, but I could do it before I had a child so, I'm gonna include it.

  • Do minor plumbing and home repair (replace light fixtures, paint, install baseboards, replace doors, install shelving, etc.). While all of the fabric in the house is mine -- so are all of the power tools. Go figure.
5 Things I Cannot Do... Yet:
  • Hand quilt. I am gearing myself up for this one -- but I think it will be a can do that soon.

  • Crochet. Honestly. I can't. I can knit, sew, embroider, cross stitch, etc. But I can NOT crochet. I've tried. People have attempted to teach me. I'm a hopeless case. And ya know what -- I'm actually ok with this.

  • Feel comfortable with balancing work, home, child. I'm working on this one. I have the feeling this one is also a continual work in progress thing.

  • Applique. My feelings on this one are somewhere between my attitude about hand quilting and crochet.

  • Parallel park well. This requires practice. Since there are darned few places where it is necessary around here -- don't know that I will get it.
5 Things That Attract Me to the Opposite Sex:
  • Honesty

  • Compassion

  • Sense of humor (must be at least as twisted and dark as my own)

  • Sense of adventure

  • Snuggleability. No -- I can't explain it any better than that.
5 Celebrity Crushes: -- I've seen many people not answer this one, I told my dh about it and his first response was to laugh and then tell me my first answer. *G* I knew I married him for a reason!
  • Orlando Bloom

  • Johnny Depp

  • Harrison Ford (this one goes WAY back -- Luke who? Give me Han!)

  • Chris Jericho (if you don't watch WWE this will make NO sense -- and no, I find no contradiction in my intellectual side clashing with my enjoyment of wrestling)

  • Hugh Jackman (he had me at *shnict* -- again, another weird cultural reference but watch the X-men and remember that I was a comic book junkie long and long ago)
5 People I'd Like to Do This (Tag! You're it!):
  • Tracey at Ozcountryquiltingmum (this is because you seemed to want to do the last one :0) )

  • Lisa at Stashmaster

  • Bonnie at Rainy Day Quilts (Bonnie is one of my dearest friends and the mother of my goddaughter -- she's started her own blog, with her own lovely quilts, check it out and encourage more posts!)

  • Valerie at Un Arc En Ciel Dans Le Lavabo

  • Anyone else who would like to do this -- I'm so lousy at this part :0)
And just so this post isn't totally non-quilt related, a peek at my current project. Just a peek mind you -- this is one of those projects where it really isn't going to look right until the top is done. Luckily, it's working up fast!
Not very helpful? Ok -- one more hint. What could it be? What could it be? Hehehe. Sorry, that's all you're getting for now. More soon. I promise!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Houston, We Have Flimsy...

I repeat, Houston, we have flimsy. Wooo Hoooo! My vow of finishing my Christmas quilt top last week was a success! It is now at flimsy stage. I love how this one turned out -- the colors are fun, the stitcheries worked out well, and using charm square packs really made this one come together pretty quickly. (thanks to dh for holding this one up for today's photo shoot -- cute toes and all, though I've been assured this is the most he wants posted of himself on my blog -- I smartly refused to promise anything. bwahahahaha)

Now on to the current quandaries about this one. My first problem is trying to come up with a name for this quilt -- some names just come to you, others, well, they just don't. This one isn't. Or, well, one does keep popping into my head, but it just seems. . . unoriginal. The entire time I've been working on this one, I've been thinking about the show Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. You know, the one with the Island of Misfit Toys? For some reason the elves (though no real physical resemblance) touch off fond memories of watching this show every year -- is it just me? Anyway, add to that the fabric is called "Holly Jolly" and I've been hearing Burl Ives singing "A Holly Jolly Christmas" in my head the entire time I've been putting this together. My first thought is to call it "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" and be done with it -- but, I don't know, it seems kind of, well, derivative? Hmmn, maybe I'm over thinking this one. Any suggestions for names would be appreciated though.

The other quandary about this one is how to quilt it. Though, truthfully, this one isn't so much of a problem right now since it's not going to be able to be sent off for quilting (nope, I don't have the talent for this one yet -- and it deserves something better than I can currently do) for a few months at least. Not because of the $$, though that is a factor, but because the top is not sitting comfortably in my flimsy drawer. No, nothing bad happened to it, it is now in its new temporary home. When I went to my newest LQS to pick up a couple of extra charm packs to finish up this one, I brought my elf stitcheries with me (ok, so I wanted to show off a bit -- I'm kind of proud of how they turned out). I showed them to the owner, Tammy, (who is a really sweet lady btw) and explained what I was doing with the rest of the blocks. Unfortunately, I didn't explain it all that well -- but she asked to see them despite my bumbling. I brought in a few of the disappearing 9 patch blocks in a couple of days later and she loved them. She also asked if they could use the top as a shop sample. Knock me over with a feather! (ok, kind of a hokey saying but -- it fits)

To make me equally dumbfounded (you would think someone had stupified me -- sorry, necessary Harry Potter reference -- the book comes out THIS WEEK!!!!!) Laura2 (her designation at the store, not my own weird way of naming her) who plans the shop's classes asked if I would be willing to teach a class on the technique. (I think my answer was something erudite and sophisticated like "um...sure...I'd...yeah") So in September I will be teaching a class on the disappearing 9 patch block and until then, my top will be displayed at the shop (I think it will go up sometime this week but they may wait until they get their shipment of Holly Jolly bolts in whenever that is). Have I mentioned again that I love the new LQS? (and if you haven't followed the links above, and here I'm trying to be all subtle and everything but I did promise to reveal the name of the shop eventually, the name of the shop is Tammy Tadd Designs -- yep, she does design patterns and fabric and the store is adorable -- and no, I'm not just saying this to suck up, really, I was spending money there before any of this happened) I will get a picture of the quilt in the shop when it gets put up!

And speaking of spending money on fabric. *sigh* I'm back on my fabric diet. No new lovelies for me for the rest of this month. I may, just may mind you, have gone a little nuts over some new fabrics that came into the shop this past week. But really, can you blame me? I resisted for a whole 24 hours before I went back to the shop and bought fabrics for the quilt that just would not leave me alone. (I was literally finishing up the Christmas quilt and taking breaks to design one around these fabrics) I do have to go back tomorrow and buy a little more of one of the fabrics -- I bought just enough fabric for my design idea and, of course, made a cutting mistake. But other than that (oh, and some binding for the Christmas quilt when the yardage comes in, and maybe some backing fabrics -- I think I've got a problem here) I'm in a no-buy zone until August at least. Not like I don't have three or four quilts that need to be done. Not to mention Mom's pillows to finish up and other assorted projects to complete. But I can't regret splurging on these -- I think the quilt is going to be fun!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different...

I thought I'd post for the first time in a week and 1/2. Despite my lovely shopping excursion, things crafty and quilty here at casa de cornfields have been sparse since my last post. I've been tied up doing work I get paid for -- you know, the stuff that allows me to buy those lovelies! Add to the hours I've been putting in at my computer and the library an active toddler, 4th of July celebrations and fireworks, trips to the pool, a trip to the doctor for confirmation of a bladder infection (thank you trip to the pool and lovely drugs to knock that sucker out), and feeling tired due to above infection and drugs and you get -- well, brain fried and lazy me.

Despite all of this -- I did manage to take a day to finish some more blocks for my Christmas quilt (which WILL be a flimsy by the end of this week -- oh, yes, it will be done) and work on a project for myself. I did mention earlier that I was feeling the need for some selfishness didn't I? Well, my new LQS got in a lovely skirt pattern I've been thinking of trying thanks to Laurie over at the Wooden Spool. Add to the mix the bargain (tee hee -- still giggling about this one) Amy Butler fabric I found back in May and you get this fun summer skirt. I have to say, the pattern was easy, easy, easy! It was fast, it was fun, and I can see myself making more of these especially since I can get it to fit me the way I want it to! Wooo Hooo! (and if you click and make the photo larger -- ignore the toes that REALLY need a pedicure, soon) I was even inspired enough to go back to the LQS (ok, so how much inspiration do I really need?) and buy another pattern for a cute top. Yes, I still need to make a dress for my daughter -- but hey, mommies need some fun too.
I'm off to go work on more disappearing 9 patch blocks and two more stitcheries. Pictures as I have progress to show. Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Confession is good for the soul.

At least, that's what Father Jim told us in CCD classes when I was much younger. Then again, he got sent off to seminary after breaking his jaw in a bar fight. So not so sure it was the best advice ;0). But here I am to confess my fabric purchases despite my no-buy vow for the month of June.
First up on the hit parade is this selection of the Moda Chez Moi fabrics. No, these are not a ton of fat quarters. They are something my newest LQS cuts -- 11" squares of fabric (well, ok, there is ONE FQ hiding out of the picture). It's great if you want a little bit of something or, as in this case, a selection from a whole line but not a lot of anything. It didn't hurt that they were on sale buy 2 get 1 free. Plus I had an additional 20% off coupon. Not 20% off of one item mind you, but 20% off the entire purchase. Can I just say I LOVE the new LQS??? (someday I will have to share the name of the shop, it may be coming soon) I think these are going to be cut into charm squares and made into a bag or something similar. And at $.40 a piece for the 11" squares, I ask you, could you resist? And yes, Lisa, I do blame you too!

More fantastic deals? Well, how about $1.00 fat quarters at 20% off. Hmmn. $.80 each FQs. Again. These needed to come home with me. As well as these other FQs. On sale for $2.00 each, plus an additional 20% off. Need I say more? I bought some other FQs, but well, some of them are already at their destination (see, I was buying gifts, really) and I didn't get pics. And others are going off later this week to their final destination. Since the recipient reads this blog, not gonna show 'em!
As for the splurge with my discount for doing the Yo-Yo maker demos -- well, I am still addicted to the lovely Fresh Cut fabrics (I swear I'm going to own at least a FQ of every print in the line before I'm done -- and I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do with them), I may have added to my collection. Who am I kidding? Maybe? Yeah. Right.

Ok, first round of confessions over. Now it's time to look back at the month of June and confess how much/little of my long list of projects I actually got done. Eeeek.

  • Mom's pillows -- um, nope. Though I just decided for sure how to finish them this past weekend, so those should be done soon. This month for sure!
  • Little girl's dress (still trying to come up with a cute pet name for dd -- I call her kitten, but hey, should be something more original don't ya think?) -- a big old nope here as well.

  • God daughter's jacket -- if you have been reading you know DONE DONE DONE. She received it today just in time for her birthday. It fits and she loves it. Woo Hoooo!

  • mil's Christmas present quilt. Cut and ready to begin sewing. Goal for the month met

  • Background strips for leaders enders project. Cut. Goal for month met.

  • My Christmas lap quilt. Started. Way started. All of the initial block sets done. 3 of the 5 embroideries done. 5 Disappearing 9 patch blocks completed. Goal for the month more than met!

  • Summer Sorbet -- pushed to July as predicted.

  • Practice machine quilting -- well, I did some on gd's jacket. So sure. I'll give myself credit here.

  • Dick and Jane. Not even looked at.

  • Bags for gifts, nope. But I did make myself a nifty new purse!
Not as much as I had originally planned. Some things done though. Since I'm used to assigning letter grades to my students, I'd have to give my June list and no-buy progress a C+. Hey, that's average. I'll take it. And to close out my confessions of quilting undone -- some in-progress photos of things I HAVE done. The latest stitchery for my Christmas quilt (ignore the running stitches, they are there so I can wash out the markings and still be able to know where my design area is when I cut the piece to put in the blocks) and some of the finished blocks.