Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lil Twister Mini Quilt

I have a casual "to do" list for quilting projects and was able to cross off two items at once with this little quilt, Terrain and Lil Twister. Terrain, by Kate Spain, is the focus fabric and I have been wanting to make something with it for awhile. I also recently bought a simple tool called the Lil Twister template that helped immensely in cutting out these pinwheels. There is a good tutorial here explaining how to use it. I like the finished result very much, and it wasn't difficult to make though the cutting part is a little fiddly.

The background fabric is Moda Bella Solid Terrain Iris and is a deep bluish purple. It is hand stitched with orange and purple embroidery floss. The finished size is a bit over 18" square. There is more Terrain on the back.

This quilt will be entered into the mini category of the Tangerine Tango Quilt Challenge, which has been organized by two quilting bloggers, Erin at Two More Seconds and Ali, at asquaredw.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dave's New Toy

1976 BMW R90/6

One might think he is angling for companionship
with that sidecar
I doubt it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TNT Beaded Scarf

I received a wonderful gift this Christmas from my friend, Dianne. This scarf kit, the TNT Beaded Scarf, came with pretty yarn and hundreds of prestrung beads. It was easy to transfer the beads to the yarn and the stitch pattern wasn't difficult. The instructions in the kit were lousy but Ravelry and Youtube helped me out and I was quickly on my way. It was a totally fun project and a really nice finished product.

It has such a perfect heft to it. The beads give it some weight and it gleams prettily in the sunlight. It looks even better on a human but a wooden bird won't roll its eyes when asked to model. Thanks so much, Dianne!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

White Balance

Oh, yeah, read the manual.

I have a new book, which I have not yet read. But even glancing through it, I got some help. The automatic mode on my camera is so good that I sometimes forget about all the adjustable features. Simple tips like read the camera manual and adjust the white balance were helpful when I was having trouble with mitten color. 

My neighbor, Barbara, has two adorable Springer Spaniel puppies who chewed up a pair of Ambroso mittens I gave her for Christmas, so I made her another pair, this time with a simpler design.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Winslow Homer Canoe in the Rapids
 I had trouble sleeping last night. It may have been the handful of M&Ms, the pep band music from the basketball game, the snoring, the menopause, who knows. We lost, the girls didn't box out and were rattled by the full court press, they threw too many long passes, looking for a hero play. But the band always wins, the boys were giddy in the car coming home, Poker Face never stopped playing in my head, in bed, though I was trying to bridge it with a Welsh lullaby, trying to sleep. There was also a story keeping me awake, a story made into a movie I will never watch, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which I read, thanks to Katherine. English major, doll, who was your favorite, I asked, then I bought the book and why have I never read Hemingway's short fiction? A writer with a blackening, rotting wound, dying on safari, on a cot by a fire, with drifting thoughts, is thinking about the things he won't write about his life, he won't turn them into stories like he planned, he won't have a chance. 

Dark and drifting, warm, I don't think about quilts, I'm not even under one. I see some of my stories, see the whale rising by the rowboat, folding in my oar to miss it, so close, so very big, the water calm and greeny black, the floating kelp, then standing on a small bridge in a foreign city, some Lonely Planet neighborhood, looking at a dirty river and watching the animals and the children and the everywhere commerce, only awake because of jet lag. The train ride in Scotland with the bad haircut, the all night lava in Guatemala with other stoners on the Gringo Trail, peering into the volcano for hours, then getting up early to watch the sunrise and, bonus! Picaya was burping smoke rings in the cold morning air. Teahouses and outhouses on the Annapurna trek and boiled potatoes and dal bhat and carmelized tea. There was a safari, too, with lions and zebras and hyenas but no guns or whiskey-sodas or gangrene. Tea fields in Uganda and bullet holes in Kampala hotels, a friend's malaria in Zanzibar with shaking fevers and nasty brown urine, frantic with worry, then the ferry to Dar es Salaam and an easy recovery. Riding all day in the Peace Corps truck, not liking the wind but quiet about it because the driver wanted the window down and country music from the US on the tape player. Steven Banda, he had a liquid voice and a beautiful smile, two daughters but he wanted a son. He changed the oil in my car before I sold it and I left him a shiny red bicycle.

The fictitious writer with the bad leg remembers war, a ranch, whoring around and his several wives, Paris - for me, it is not war but the domestic grief of the ER and the hospital and the clinic. The sharp image of a neck X-ray, held up to the light, too much space between the bones, the child still alive but now we know. The pain, the all the time pain of arthritis and old age, the drug seeking, the parents walking in, knowing the waves dashed the head of their large young man on the rocks and that he is dead but not believing it. The mom on the phone, leaving a message on her father's answering machine, Please, Dad, I know you don't believe but please, Dad, pray to Jesus that Spencer will be healed. Her boy had fallen and was unconscious and drifting away but, when I checked in the morning, he was all right, he had gone home.

No Paris in my story, and no ranch but sweet months on a boat with my one baby boy, low tides, steep ramps, slick docks. Picking out a route in the fog, in the plane or looking for a headland in a boat. Lovers, yes, and husbands, and we won't call love and sex whoring around when it is spread out over decades and no one is drunk or getting paid. This man lying beside me is the best man, the right man, but no regrets, love is my religion, love and work are enough to shape life and give it meaning.

This morning, walking on Sharpe Road, I passed one of the old guys in his reflective vest. It is winter, but mild and clear. He waved and said, "It's grand to be out on a day like this." Yes, it is grand.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Quilts of 2011

Before I could post a year end summary of quilts, I wanted to learn how to make a photo mosaic. I used Flickr and a website called Big Huge Labs and it wasn't hard at all. It is kind of fun to see the bigger projects all organized together like this. 
There are seven finished quilts - two were long arm quilted by a professional, two were free motion machine quilted by me and I hand quilted the others.

Hmm - how many quilts will I make this year? So far, I have only had knitting in my hands and I haven't sewn a stitch. I do have three mini quilts to finish, though, and some beguiling piles of fabric so there is hope.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Hexagon Table Runner

This project has been finished for a month or so but it has taken awhile to get some pictures of it. It is 16" x 42", a nice fit for our small dining table. I liked doing the English paper piecing; it was easy to find tutorials online and make adjustments in technique to what seemed to work best for my sewing style. I used the ladder stitch to join the hexagons together and machine quilted the hexies to the background fabric.

Hexagon prints for binding and background!
It doesn't sit perfectly flat on the table top but it is close enough. It will likely settle down a bit as it ages. Yeah - don't we all?

Monday, January 02, 2012


I am glad we went to Reno for the first half of Christmas break, because the second half proved to be filled with inactivity. We went to a couple of nice parties around Christmas which were great and it was delightful to have Katherine around for five days but we didn't do anything special while she was here. She was content to lie around, on one couch or another, flipping through books and we all went on with our usual hobbies and entertainments. I made a pretty beaded scarf which I need to photograph and Dave put the kids to work for a few hours splitting up some rounds for firewood. 

I titled this post "Vago" because it captures our week so well. Vago became a frequently used word in our family when we had our fabulous, Spanish speaking, Peruvian exchange student, Leonardo, living with us eight years ago. It means both vague and lazy, and once he used it to describe somebody else, we lovingly attached it to him. Leo, at 19, would sleep until four in the afternoon and then would get up and drink a gallon of grape juice. He is the friendliest guy and we called him hijo and guapito way more than we called him vago. Some day we will visit him and his family in Piura.

June 2004