As I drove to the store this morning, I glimpsed a lovely purple flower growing in a front yard along my favorite road (favorite for the visual delight). Of course, I was _driving_ so could not photograph it. (sigh) A quick Google hunt revealed a number of purple blossoms (most of which I knew it was _not_ - like iris...) but I don't know for sure which one I saw. The flowers were medium high, growing right on the verge beside the road, and in a semi-sunny spot. Maybe, with luck, I will see them tomorrow (when I am not driving and can take a picture:). The electric purple of the blossoms seared into my visual cortex. :)
Since I spent my two days off (my 'saturday' and 'sunday') last week in class, I really treasured my down time this week on Tuesday and Wednesday! :) We've been having chilly, rainy weather this week, so the weeds in my front yard are still waiting for attention. Wednesday had a few not-wet hours, but I spent them doing something really adventurous for me - I cut my son's hair! :)
We were planning to go out to lunch for a late Mother's Day together ... and right beside the Subway he was willing to eat in was a 'beauty supply store' - a pretty schlocky one, it turned out, but they did have sharp hair-cutting scissors and a salon cape. After lunch (I'll never eat at that Subway again - I'm pretty sure they ripped us off!) ... I took a kitchen chair out to our front sidewalk (right next to the house and behind our big-ish Japanese maple tree, so not so exposed as you might think:), sat him down and cut his hair.
Mind you, his hair was down to his shoulder blades when I started. :) He's not very good at, um, self-maintenance so I cut it down to about 1.5" long all over. :) Took time and I am not the world's greatest cutter - but his hair is pretty curly and it is not obviously lop-sided. :) I guess I'll be his barber now (next time I plan to use a long beard trimming electric buzzer). :) He was happy (not so hot), I was happy (he looks better and is definitely cleaner:), the yard growth is happy (I put the cut off hair down as mulch under the ground cover) ... win-win all around! :)
Thursday and Friday I have spent most of my time at the store, working on summer classes and sewing on new samples. Oh, and watching Daria work on the long-arm - so much fun to see the tops turn into quilts! :) I finished making my June blocks for the patchwork sampler class I teach...tomorrow I hope to make the purse/bag for the late June class, too.
Friday morning was my weekly weigh-in with the nutritionist. I lost two pounds this past week - my total weight loss (since Dec. 1st) is now 49.5 pounds!! :) I was hoping for that magic 50 pound mark, but I'm ok with what I managed. :) Probably the end of this coming week? I am really starting to see the changes in my body now and my stamina is considerably improved. My knee isn't better ... but I don't think it is any worse, either. (shrug)
I have to work on the sales floor tomorrow with Marty, one of my substitute workers. I have no idea if it will be busy or dead in the shop. I have never been able to draw any direct corellation between the weather and daily foot traffic. We do definitely see seasonal swings - this time of year our customers like to be outside. :) Still, rain/sun/wind/heat/cold ... nothing obvious. I swear there are days I think some e.s.p. signal goes out and everyone either stays home or gets bored and comes out at once. :)
Monday I am planning to go see the new Star Trek movie with my friend Barbara B. After that I will go to the store - I was planning to sew...but, after watching the Gelli plate blog, I might paint fabric instead. Very inspiring!!
I am still thinking about these blocks - my floral fantasy squares from the Sue Benner class last week. Sue had a piece of advice for students that I took to heart - she takes a digital photo of her basic block units, prints them out and plays with the printed photo to decide on a layout.
So, I took a quick pic of my blocks and cut up the print out to play with ideas. I made two color prints which was a good thing because I thought of different ways to use the squares. :)
Here is one type of what I am thinking of as a floral-burst design, a la Sue:
I was really divided as to whether I should persevere and do what the teacher's sample looked like (mostly as a memory prompt for myself) ... or go my own way. In the _spirit_ of Sue's approach to quilt making (no patterns, no rules), I decided that I need to put my own 'stamp' on this project. :)
So, then I tried some diagonal division ideas. Here are half square triangles made of divided floral units:
Here is a quarter square triangle arrangement:
Again, these are both kinda busy for my eyes. ;) My friend Barbara B. told me I should do something 'linda' with my blocks. So....now I am thinking about making each 6" flower square a page in an artist's book of some kind. Maybe a concertina or a Dos-a-Dos structure. The former would lend itself to easy display in my shop or at home (unfolded like a screen, along a shelf). Also, making each into it's own quilted page would let me further embellish each square with beads, embroidery, quilting, etc.
I am pondering this project while I do other things. When I cannot decide on a finished design, letting things 'gestate' in my back brain helps me decide what will appeal.
I've been in a two day workshop yesterday and today - and enjoying every. single. minute! :) Sue Benner was here in Columbia, teaching her class on Floral Fusions for Milltown and Faithful Circle quilters (a joint workshop).
The theme of this class had to do with creating fused flower designs. Sue has made a whole series of this type of quilt (you can view some of them on her website). There was an enormous number of ways to personalize the designs so it was really exciting to do this kind of work with a group of 20+ talented quilt makers! :)
The photo above shows the twelve blocks I managed to create during the two days. I still have to decide what kind of layout I want to use (whether to keep the blocks whole or to cut them up into parts to be recombined;). Here are a couple closer photos for some detail:
The fabrics I used for my blocks ranged from the usual 100% cotton to silks of three different kinds (some of them things I had hand painted), linen, lace (see the black openwork?) and the sleeve of an old kimono (probably silk, too). I took the color palette from the kimono sleeve, liberally interpreted. :)
Many students chose to use elaborately cut shapes for their flower circles ... or brilliantly varied batiks ... I used simple shapes (easy for my untalented fingers to draw:) and mostly concentrated on textural contrasts - matte vs. shiny, dense vs. transparent. It was incredibly wonderful to see everyone's work - I did not see a single block I did not LOVE. :)
I look forward to settling on a layout for this and assembling the quilt top. Then I can dig into my beads and threads and paints and really embellish my flowers! :)
Sunday was quite pleasant here. I slept in until about 10 a.m. My daughter called just after I woke up and we got to chat for a while (I miss her!:). She seems to be doing well, tho' I think her carpel tunnel problems with her hands are getting frustrating for her. She and her husband built raised beds for a vegetable garden and she was annoyed that the crows dug up all the pumpkin seeds while bypassing every cucumber seed. :)
My son slept in, too. I didn't see him until later in the afternoon. :) He had a scheduled event to run yesterday afternoon so he and I will go out together later this week. :)
I spent a fair time doing some embroidery in the early afternoon, working on my class sample from Paducah. The class was taught by Laurie Malm, a la Sue Spargo, with a Modern twist. :) The photo above shows the center I have devised - the double layered pink and white silk flower is something I added (the rest of the fabrics came in my kit), along with the dark green button center and the gold bugle and seed beads. The button sure looks black in this photo - you have to let light shine through it to see the rich green lights inside. :)
Here are some more parts of the flower:
This is one large petal with a smaller one on top ... and a wool spiral on top of _that_. Herringbone, whipped backstitch, lovely pink filled pear-shaped beads and green running stitch. I loved those beads (they were included in the kit) as the holes are offcenter so the beads stand up very nicely. :)
This is an almost-entire pic - the flower has six petals, six leaves and a center. The background is a nice strong spring pea green. I am really enjoying working on this piece ... I've done lots of embroidery before, but using embroidery to finish off fused cotton fabric applique like this is new to me. I really like the way it looks! :)
When I get done with the embroidery, I'll have to decide on a border and make it into a small wall hanging. Originally I thought I might make a sofa pillow ... but I really don't want my cats pulling on all the pretty stitching and beads. :) I haven't decided whether to hand or machine stitch it, either. Big stitch with dark blue thread might be really cool. :)
I decided that I had a yen for shrimp so Skip took me dinner at Red Lobster around 5 p.m. Of course, it was so busy there that it was almost 6 by the time we sat down. Lots and lots of happy families, celebrating their mothers - very cheerful buzz in the place! :)
I ordered grilled Mahimahi and shrimp with pineapple salsa and green beans. Yummy! The seafood was excellent but the beans were severely over salted. :P I am not much of a salt lover so I expect the food preparing staff did not think it was too much salt. :)
Skip needed to send in our bi-weekly payroll to the paycheck company that prepares the checks and pays the various taxes for us so we drove up to the store after dinner. The sun was shining and the early evening light was very warm and lovely. :)
I actually watched not one but _two_ movies in the evening once we got home (streaming, from Netflix). Captain America, which I had not seen in the theater, and enjoyed quite a bit (they chose a very pleasing actor to play the lead role - and I enjoyed watching 'Elrond' be the evil villain:) ... and Super 8 which I had never heard of but enjoyed enormously. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and was good, as I expected. Great story line!
Today was a 'doing chores' day at work. I put the two borders on my round robin piece so I could pass it on (to the very understanding and kind hearted Nancy B.:) ... and sorted through the usual email, snail mail, FB chores ... and chatted with staff. I should have gone to my guild meeting this evening to hear Sue Benner (visiting teacher) speak, but I got caught up with helping my two evening staff members with experiments and forgot until too late. (sigh)
I packed up an assortment of stuff for myself - tomorrow and Wednesday I am in a two day, all day, class with Sue Benner. Will be interesting to see what I make!
Yesterday evening, on my way home from the Expo, I made a strategic error of memory. (sigh) That pretty picture above is a representation of the molecular structure of CAFFEINE ... which I seem to be unable to metabolize correctly. (more sighes) If I drink any of the stuff, I cannot sleep - it takes hours and hours for caffeine to work its way out of my body. :P
When I bought a snack on my way home, I also bought a diet soda ... forgetting that the diet soda one gets from fast food places is NOT caffeine-free (I generally drink diet caffeine free Coke). I could not go to sleep last night (even though I was tired) ... the last time I looked at the clock, it was after 4 a.m. Needless to say, I did not wake up this morning until after 11. It is a very good thing that I was NOT scheduled to work on the sales floor!
I think it was about one p.m. or a little past by the time I got to work - the Saturday monthly session of the Baltimore Album Applique class was just getting out and that class runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sure was nice to see lots of happy quilters in the shop as I walked in the door. :)
I did a variety of necessary chores today (email reading and writing, updating our website and FB page, returning phone calls, making new part numbers and entering the data for kits Daria and Alice made, etc.). By the time I finished and started to think about useful-but-not-urgent things that needed doing, I was blinking with sleepiness. :P I left early (around 3:30 p.m.) and treated myself to a good salad at Peace a Pizza for late lunch before I drove home.
The weather was pretty when I drove in - partly cloudy and low 70s - but had gotten a bit cooler and much darker by the time I started driving home. There was a really big black cloud overhead all the way from Catonsville to my house on the south side of Columbia. Maybe five minutes after I got indoors, rain came pelting down and kept up for a couple of hours. I sure hope all the trees and green growing things do well with all this rain! :)
I found some more goodies that I picked up at the Expo yesterday to share:
I also bought this from QF:
One last vendor at the Expo whose work I admired was an heirloom sewing booth. I've done a bit of hand sewing heirloom work over the years (had three or four classes in hand sewing insertion lace, tiny bullion roses, etc.) and I am picky about this particular type of work.
Until I visited this booth, I can honestly say that I never saw machine work that could hold a candle to the hand product. Custom Keepsakes is the first machine embroidery designer that even comes close to the quality of product that I would want if I were doing fine heirloom sewing. I quite admired their pretty baby dresses, ladies blouses, etc. I have no one to do that kind of fancy work for (no way would I, klutz that I am, wear such delicate stuffs:) - but I almost wish that I did, the temptation to invest was strong. :)
Don't know what we will do for Mother's Day tomorrow (besides call my Mom:) ...
Today I took an expedition into the dark and wild interior of Baltimore city. :) I don't go downtown very often any more (when I had children at home, we went into town at least once a month to the Aquarium or MD Science Center or some other local educational-but-fun destination:) - so today was an adventure for me. I put on my 'hat' as a member of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild and volunteered to woman our booth at the Sewing & Quilting Expo from noon to 4 p.m.
The Expo is being held at the Convention Center (Charles Street entrance), with vendor/exhibitor booths, assorted classes, Make&Takes, demos and talks, etc. They put this on every spring (I _think_) but this is the first one I have personally attended (that I can remember:). I always assumed (based on the published class lists and vendor lists) that the thrust of the Expo was mostly toward garment sewists (I guess the term sewer - sew-er - is out of fashion because of the obvious confusion with waste water:). I was startled to find that many of the vendors were selling quilting fabrics and goods.
Of course, I was _not_ surprised that there were a lot of vendors that I, personally, might buy from (since I love hand embroidery and such:). Debra Gabel had a very nice booth there and I got a chance to spend some time chatting and catching up with her (she is looking HOT as she, too, is dropping pounds:). Quilter's Fancy had a booth where I spent some time and just a little money. :) ... and I bought three pieces of fabric and one pattern from other vendors ... as well as a very cute-funny saying sign (suited my warped sense of humor anyway:).
Here is some of my loot:
The other two fabrics I bought are novelty prints for the I-Spy charm square swap I am in - decided not to show those 'cause the swapees might enjoy the surprise more (don't know that any of them read my ramblings, but I'd hate to let slip a spoiler:).
If you are of the fabric persuasion, I'd highly recommend the Expo - on Saturday (not Sunday? I'm not sure of the hours) - as an inspiring day out. :) The four hours of working at the guild table was fun - I _love_ to talk to quilters and about quilting, so I enjoyed it. :) Saw a lot of people I know, of course. Got to sit with Emily and then Amy from the BMQG and get to know each of them a bit better. People are sooo fascinating! :) I hope I didn't talk their ears off - I must have been in a good mood 'cause I was kinda chatty. (grin)
There were a couple of quilt shows hanging at the Expo (and probably at least one fashion show, though I did not pay much attention to the demo area). I took several photos of one small quilt display from the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild group:
I took photos of the 'about' signs with each quilt ... but they were barely readable in my pics later due to my hand tremors, so I will spare your eyes and translate as much of the text as I can for you. :) The challenge was to make a quilt based on the work of an artist (click the link to read the details). Here are several pieces I particularly liked:
'Serenity' by Marla Margalewski
I apologize to the artists whose names I lost - I really have to do something about the hand shake and photo problems I have (sigh). My doctor tells me that I have something called Intentional Tremors - which will only get worse. I had never heard of it before (and it isn't dangerous, just annoying) but I noticed that my Aunt Jean has it, too, when I saw her last week. (shrug) Genetics, I guess.
I must say that losing weight seems to be improving my mobility (well, one would _hope_ so, eh?:) - it was much less difficult for me to walk the maybe five city blocks to and from the parking ramp that I had to do today (if you drive, park at the Down Under garage on Lombard Street - is $14 for the day with the coupon from the Expo website, which is a _considerable_ discount ... or, if you can walk, take the Light Rail with free parking:). Thank you, God, the weather was warm today, though cloudy, and walking was pleasant.
As I type this, the rain is once again pounding down on our roof outside. Makes me feel grateful to be warm and cozy indoors! :)
I thought I'd share a brief set of photos of the wire knitting experiments I'm doing now. So far I am just messing about with different sizes of knitting needles and ways to finish off the ends for closures. :) Here are the two and a half things I've done (one is a WIP:).
As you can see, I put a few beads on this one - you have to pre-string the beads and I only had enough patience to put a few on. :) Truthfully, this piece looked _nothing_ like I expected - I don't think of the knit stitch as being square! This is just all knit - would be garter stitch in yarn. :)
This one is on the same size needles as the second one, above, and has no beads (yet!:) ... and I haven't decided how it will clasp. You can see the bamboo needle on the far right side of the photo - still not finished.
This wire I'm using is 26-gauge enameled copper .. and, once the feel of it got familiar to my hands, is fairly easy to knit with. No 'spring' or 'bounce' to it, of course, but not difficult. :) I'm thinking that I will do some embroidery or maybe crocheted thread edging on these after I finish the knitted strand... and then mix some buttons or other beads on top. We'll see. :) Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine has a Jewelry Swap in the near future - maybe I'll get brave and send a piece off to see what other mixed media people make.
PS Did you notice the pink letter 'L' in the lower left corner of my name tag (first photo at the top of this post)? One of the booths I stopped at featured the new Slice shape cutter - they cut a letter to show me how it works. I was sorely tempted - might have to invest in one of these. Is not big and fancy (cuts from 1/2" to 4" square area), but has lots of cool shape designs and is easy to use. :) Many of the shapes are things like leaves, letters, flowers - stuff I might actually use for applique. :)
Today I had to work on the sales floor, so I managed to get up, take a shower and get to work by 9 a.m.!! Major effort for me. :) One of our teachers, Rebecca Hilchie, came in just before 10 a.m. with her new friend, Josie.
Josie was the cutest, most cuddly little puppy I think I've ever met - she is a maltese-poodle mix and, at ten weeks of age, only weighs one pound. :) She had a small cat collar on and it was way too big - Rebecca was carrying Josie around in her sweater to cuddle. What a sweetie!
I was so busy petting Josie I did not even think about taking a photo - so I found the picture above online so you could see something like Josie. :) She was very pale in coloring (champagne?) with a short, very waggy tail tipped in white. Adorable! :)
What a nice start to the day! Besides helping customers, I managed to clean my desktop off of minor tasks, compose and mail out an email newsletter (about our Open House next weekend) and took several important phone calls.
I had an appointment with my nutritionist for a weigh-in after my work slot (at 5 p.m.) - I don't usually drive during rush hours and I'm always shocked by how much more traffic there is. :P Happily, this week I managed to lose another 1.5 pounds ... better than gaining! :) I guess I have to go back to being very strict to lose more ... but that might take some of the small pleasure out of my daily life. (grin) As I was leaving the office, I took some photos of pretty flowers in the front beds - pansies:
As you can see, I'm not much better at focusing my pictures - clearly the screen on my iPhone is not big enough for my poor nearsighted eyes. :P Driving back into Catonsville, there was a house along the road that had lovely azaleas flowering, too:
This evening, after my friend Barbara came in for our once-a-week sew-in, I worked on my project from the embellishment class in Paducah. I am so enjoying what I am making - I'll try to take a photo next time I get it out to share. :)
Tomorrow I have to go into Baltimore city and volunteer at the table for Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild at the Sewing Expo. It's at the Convention Center and I have not been there in _years_ - never mind find parking. I am planning to go in early (well, I'm scheduled to work from noon to 4 p.m., so I'll leave home between 9 and 10 a.m.) to allow time for parking, hobbling to wherever from the ramp, etc. Maybe I'll even have a little time for looking around? :)