Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Dream Rocket

Quilting Arts Magazine sent out an e-mail today on an interesting project that really speaks to those of us who live in Houston. Its called the the Dream Rocket Project. For someone who lives next to Space City USA it is incredibly intriguing that someone is intending to cover a Saturn V Rocket with a quilt made up of panels illustrating peoples' dreams. The fact that those folk from the International Fiber Collective in Huntsville, Alabama are leading the project is just an accident of geography as I know someone here would have come up with the idea ..... eventually.

What a great project for a grade school class, a group of friends, an individual quilter or anyone else, anywhere in the world who would like to share a dream.

Now to come up with a dream for a 2' x 2' panel .... and the fee.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Schlepp Bag Revisited

Next to my cuttting table is a pile of fabric. It is not the only pile of fabric in my home but it is the one I go to when I need to get away from bigger projects and get some almost instant gratification from making something useful. The other day I was getting sick of working on my pink Angotti quilt and went to the pile to see what caught my eye.

On top of it were two pieces of upholstery weight fabric that were crying out to be made into a wheeelchair bag. Wheelchair bags are a quick sew (Instructions I use are here) and these bits of fabric seemed perfect for one. There was one problem. I had already cut a chunk out of one of them (I don't rememeber why) so I went onto to Plan B.

Plan B in this case was a Schlepp Bag.

I have made several in the past (here, here, and here) but this time I decided to make one based on the original design I found in an old magazine. In that one, the sides were not made from squares of fabric but from strips of fabric. I cut my fabric into 6" x 24" strips, serged them together, top-stitched the seams down, trimmed the top straight by eye-balling the edge, added a lining, reinforced the bottom with part of a worn out cutting board and here's how it came out:
The bottom is the classic square and the points sort of match even though the fabric is fairly heavy:

After it was done I started using it as a library book bag but it has morphed into a travel knitting bag for knitting guild meetings and such when I am taking more than just my current project.

What I didn't realize before I started working on this project is that I do have a specific stack of fabric for fill-in sewing. For those times when I just want to get something done, whether for charity or for my own use, there is this stack that I go to to find the building blocks. I've been doing it for years, I just didn't know I was doing it.

If you have time some day, look at your fabric stash and find those fabrics that are a usable size for various quicks projects. Gather them in one place and you will also have your own stack for fill-in sewing. Wheelchair bags, Anti-ouch pouches, Chemo caps, Operation Care Package Christmas Stockings and other charity sewing projects are all good uses for fabric that no longer has a specific use.
After all, we can all use a little instant gratification once in a while.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In the Mail

The Victoria and Albert Museum
South Kensington
London SW7 2RL

Doesn't that sound elegant?

Selvedge magazine had a short write-up on a new series of books called V&A Pattern. The first boxed set includes four beautiful volumes of images from their collection of patterns from the 50's, William Morris, Indian Florals and Digital Pioneers. Each volume includes a disc of the images that you can download and use for your personal use in whatever way you would like. Copyright resides with the museum but I know from personal experience they are generous in giving it when credit is given where credit is due.

Is this not the most elegant set you have ever seen?

My set came from Britan but I see that it is now available from Amazon here. I also see that the second set is now scheduled for publication next June and will include Kimonos, Owen Jones, Novelty Petterns and Secret Garden. My birthday is in June....guess I'll just have to get this for myself.
It's been raining a lot today and Sweet Sadie's sprung a leak. Not a big leak but enough that when combined with monsoonal rain we closed for the day. We will be open tomorrow but it was nice to have some down time to do some seasonal decorating and catch up on some paper work. Tomorrow its back to the BBQ grind.

Halloweiner 2009

Twice a year Dachshund Rescue of Houston (DROH) has a fund raiser. In the fall its the Halloweiner event. This year it was was held at Meadow Lake Pet Resort down in Pearland and I think they raised about $10,000.00 for the cause, most of it from a one family but still a good amount when the need is so large.

I do not do elaborate costumes for Alex and the Girls because, after the first few minutes of hilarity, they really do look pretty stupid. I do little ruffled collars as their costumes/dress-up outfits with coats for cold weather. Here's what they wore this year:

Alex would not pose without showing off his equipment in the most uncute manner. Here's a shot of how some of the other critters and their owners were dressed.

This guy was most appropriately dressed and amused many of us by climbing up the walls of his cage in his effforts to get out.

Most of the day was spent untangling leashes:

Note the new harnesses for Alex and the Girls. One of the reasons I went to this event was to purchase new harnesses for them from a woman who donates all of the proceeds to DROH. I ended up with an extra small for Kelis, a small for Alex and a medium for Kimora. These are incredibly well made and I can't blieve how inexpensive they were to buy. Check out the DROH website for ordering information. I also gave her all my doggie themed fabric to help defray some of her expenses. I didn't realise how much I had and I know she can make good use of it.

The saddest thing all day was one little guy who had to wear a stuffed lobster that kept falling off of him. He was a real charmer and bore it well. His owner won a squeaky stuffed toy and walked around with it completely ignoring the little lobster boy's efforts to get her attention so he could have the toy. He didn't bark or whine or cause a scene just sat and stared longingly at the toy.

I finally took piy on him and let his owner know what was going on and asked her to let him have the toy. She did and he was in squeaky toy heaven as we left.

Have a great week. I will get back to sewing posts soon!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You Dirty Dog!

After two days of on and off torrential rains little Miss Kelis decided to make an escape attempt to the neighbors' backyard. After much time spent digging and forcing her head through the claylike mud we call dirt around here, she did not succeed in escaping but she did succeed in getting pretty dirty.

Here is the little princess in all her glory after rubbing most of it off on my black jeans (sorry for the devil dog eyes):

I just might wait until later tonight before giving her a bath to see if she finds another spot to dig.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Kingwood Quilt Part 73

The group working on the quilt for the Kingwood Library had another gathering this evening to work all the blocks into a setting. The important thing here is that we had all the blocks to work with even though some still needed a little tweeking to add some definition to the subjects.
Here's how it is looking so far:

plus some details:

Each of the blocks will be surrounded with a lovely leafy brown and green batik... just as though they were laid out on the forest floor. The high quality of the workmanship is amazing and the variety of the blocks submitted is extremely creative. There will be a bunch of little nine patch blocks and other pieced blocks scattered throughtout the quilt to fill-in any gaps where necessary.

I think this quilt (for the Library), and it's twin sister (which will be auctioned for the benefit of the Guild), are going to bring a smile to the face of everyone who sees them.

There are a lot of stories in this quilt and all the difficulties people have had putting their blocks together. I do not need to go into my trials with the spider or the cicada again. While I was bemoaning the garbage pail full of cicada scraps another block maker confided to me that she had spent $42.00 collecting and experimenting with materials for her dragonfly block. Since she made two fo them I guess this makes this bccok the $21.00 dragonfly... and worth every penny of it!
I hope your week has been going well. I am looking forward to even more rain here, this time from a Pacific hurricane rather than from the Gulf, which we had today. Autumn here can become a sea of mud as the hurricane season winds down. With it so wet so frequently it does is give me an excuse not to mow the grass in the backyard and Kelis more excuses to dig holes under the fence.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Surprise No More

The one class I took at Quilt Festival this year was taught by Charlotte Angotti of Quiltmaker's Studio and called 'Let me Surprise You! More!'. Charlotte has been offering Surprise classes for many years and this year she took it up a notch.

The regular classes are traditionally based on the attendees getting ziplock bags of pre-cut pieces of fabric for a twin size quilt top. As the day progresses, the attendees sew the bits together and the top takes shape. You never really finish the whole top during the day and Charlotte always offers add-on packages that contain enough to turn your kit into a much larger quilt. Besides making a quilt top that is a complete mystery until late in the day, Charlotte is a one woman comedy show and a bottomless store of quilt making knowledge.

I have taken her regular classes three or four times and happen to be a friend of a big fan of Charlotte's. As a friend of a member of her posse I have had the distinct pleasure of being included in many dinners with the posse and Charlotte after the Festival has closed for the day, shared in stories from the quilt retreats that Charloatte runs, added a block to quilt being made for her by the posse and once had the pleasure of escorting Charlote and other members of the posse on a fabric shopping trip to a couple of the bigger quilt shops away from the Festival site.

I guess you could say I am a wanna be posse member.

I was extremely intrigued to see that Charlotte had a whole new mystery quilt class for Quilt Fetsival this year. It promised to be more challenging, produce a bigger quilt... in fact to be More!

I was not disappointed. For this mystery class Charlotte designed a simple New York Beauty style quilt block that could be machine pieced. There was curved piecing, wacky mirror imaged bits and straight edges that weren't. Here is an example of a more typical New York Beauty Block courtesy of Quilters Corner Club.

There is no way that block could be pieced together in a typical mechine sewn manner and is in fact pieced using paper as a foundation to assist in getting all those points to match up correctly. Charlotte's fabrics were purchased at last year's quilt market, the essential block was hand drafted by her in the past few months and the fabrics were laser cut by John Flynn (a quilt super star on his own). The combination of these three elements came together to help me put together four of the blocks shown below:

There was enough fabric in the kit for thirty-six blocks and the add-ons would add sashing, corner stones and three borders to produce a king size quilt. Heck, the basic kit itself will produce a quilt that it is 72" square. I did not purchase the add-ons as I have some other ideas to increase its size. I , also, have not used the setting of the blocks suggested by Charlotte as I thought it took away from the wonderfulness (is that even a word?) of the block itself.

If you ever get a chance to take a quilt class with Charlotte you will not be disappointed. The stand-up comedy routine itself is worth the price of admission.

Other Charlotte quilts I have posted about are here, here, here and here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quilts, Quilts, Everywhere...

I just got home from one day at the Quilt Festival. Yes, I know I could have spent longer but I just couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. There really is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

I didn't have to hep out at Sweet Sadie's last night, as originally planned, so I spent time at preview night, a couple of hours shopping today, time at the anniversary luncheon and time getting inspired at the Mixed Media Sampler. That's more than enough for a girl who thought she wouldn't have more than a couple of hours to see the quilts and shop.

Seeing the quilts is why we should go to the Festival but the vendor booths do pull us in to see all the neat things available. The best part is seeing things from other parts of the world like the vendor from Spain with her whimsical hand painted silk panels, or the guys from Africa with their unique fabrics or the ladies from Canada with their needlework magazine that seems straght out of the fifties.

I love it all.

The winners of all the prizes can be seen here. If you click on the sidebar (IQA winners) you will get to the quilts. If you click on any one of them you can see larger pictures of all of them individually. The pictures just do not do the quilts justice as you cannot see the intricate trapuntoed hand applique of the Founders' Award winning quilt or the glitter of the Machine Artistry Award winner. Although the best in show did not impress me as much as other quilts that I saw, the quality of all the quilts was truly amazing.

One thing did tick me off a little.

There is a new magazine being introduced at the show. It is called 'International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene'. It is a collaboration of Interweave Press's Quilting Arts magazine and the International Quilt Festival. Advertising has been going on for months and not a week goes by that I don't get an e-mail asking me to suscribe.

Here's what ticks me off.

Included in the premiere issue are two full pages on each of the big winners with interviews with the quilters who made them.

I understand that the winners are notified ahead of time that they are winners of something to encourage their attendance at the awards ceremony which was Tuesday night. If the awards ceremony was Tuesday night, how did interviews and pictures of their quilts get into a magazine to be sold on Wednesday at the show?

Why not just make the announcements to the world when the awards are known and skip the whole surprise thing. Heck, if the printers knew at least a month ago why not let the rest of us know at the same time? I heard that one of the big winners was handing out business cards in September noting her win in Houston this October.

There was also an embarassing moment last night. I thought a frend had won one of the smaller awards and I immeadiately got on the cell phone to let others know. It turns out that she didn't win, I just mis-read the sign for her quilt as the sign for the winning quilt. My face was red when I found out my mistake. It will take a long time to live that one down.

Enjoy the slide show!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In the Mail

I'm in a new swap called 'Fat Quarter Swap with a Twist'. It is a small group and, essentially, each month has a theme, you and your partner swap a small number of fat quarters geared to the theme plus a couple of other requirments. For October, the theme was Autumn, the other items were something hand made that your partner would like and a sewing notion or two.

I have not sent my package off yet as I was waiting for the Quilt Festival to see if anything jumped out at me, however, my partner from Britain did send hers to me and I received it yesterday.

Here's all the loot she sent:

The whole package included fabrics, threads, rick rack, ribbons, buttons, felt flowers, ribbon, a Guterman tin, a small jar, an address book, a medium Moleskine notebook, little clothes pins and a wonderful Lavender sachet. All of it fit into a wonderful Royal Mail shipping box that I can't wait to re-purpose. Thank you sazziej for a wonderful swap. Mine back to you should be in the mail by the beginning of next week.

The interesting thing about the box is that it had vent holes in it so you could actually see the wrapped packages inside. In general, that woud be a bad thing, especially when you are sending parcels where two inchies of rain or more in a day can occur at this time of year. In this case, someone was looking out for this parcel as it arrived between rain storms without a drop of wetness marring its pristine contents.

Now to rest up for more Quilt Show trolling!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Getting Ready for the Quilt Festival

For the past few years, I have made a new badge holder each year to hold my credentials. One was purchased from ASG, one was plain black that I embellished with lots of gold spangles, two were simple Lazy Girls designs, and one looked like a rock around my neck. You can catch up on them all here. This year I thought I would see what I could do with just an idea and a couple of bits of fabric.

The concept was to make purse within a purse like the rock one, with fewer pockets and bulk to hold the bare essentials. This is what I came up with:

Lime green and bubble gum pink? I didn't even know I had these fabrics in the stash. I don't any more as I used every last bit of them making this.

The inner pocket was interfaced slightly and serged together after doing a beautiful job making it too big for the outer pocket. It holds my class list, a credit card, some mad money and my driver's license, just the basics.

The outer pocket is more heavily interfaced and holds the badge, a pen and a point turner (my favorite tool).

I finally figured out that everything I will need at the Quilt Festival will not hang comfortably around my neck. I can't see a neck pouch holding tooth picks, inhalers, allergy meds, cell phone, wipes, lip balm, hair bursh, check book, camera and any other must have stuff. All of this will accompany me in my purse/tote bag while I browse the vendor booths and view the quilts.

I think I am ready.

Next decision... what tote bag to bring.

Decisions, decisions.

The Nobel Peace Prize - 2009

Caution: This is a personal rant that you may not want to read.

After hearing and reading many wonderful and ugly comments on the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama, I would like to give my perspective.

I think that the awarding of this prize to the President of the United States only acknowledges that my country can be the greatest source of peace in the world. The individual accomplishments of one man are nothing compared to that simple fact. This America of mine makes choices every day to make war or make peace. In most cases, we try to make peace.

We feed the hungry, rebuild devastated areas, offer care to the ill, school the ignorant and other acts of a peaceful nature, both at home and abroad, every day.

On other days we have made war but, in those cases, I believe, we try to do it so that peace will be the outcome. I will not apologize for entering the Second World War and, quite frankly, I would like to see the men who approved the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center caught.

I don't believe that this country is full of war-mongering idiots, just people who want to live lives with clothes on their backs, food on the table, a roof over their heads and friends and family to share it with... just like most of the rest of the world.

The crazies who don't, are the ones we all need to keep under control. Instead of promoting education, crazies throw acid in the faces of young girls trying to go to school. I, personally, want those kinds of crazies controlled in any way possible.

I will never win a Nobel Peace Prize, nor will I ever be nominated for one. However, I can try to be the best peace promoting person I can be with the time that I have.

About 30 years ago, on Rosh Hashanah, there was an ad in the New York Times, that I believe illustrates President Obama's call to action. As I remember it, the piece concluded with: (apologies to the unknown author)

God created the world in seven days.
It is now up to us continue His act of creation.
Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, school the ignorant, befriend the lonely.
Now is the time.
Wherever you are is the place.

All I can say is that I will try.

The Quilts are Here!

The Houston Internatonal Quilt Festival is officially open for this year. Right now is the period for Market when wholesalers and retailers engage in this dance where the wholesalers try to sell their latest offerings to all of our quilt stores to entice us to spend our hard earned money in the coming months.

I have only been to Market once and it was a heady experience seeing all the new patterns, designers and gadgets in one place before they reached the stores. The other part that was terrific is that those that attend Market get an early chance to see all the quilts. The big winners are not annouced or displayed until Wednesday afternoon but you get to have some quality time with the quilts. The retailers are really to busy making important business decisions so their hangers-on (like me last year) are the lucky ones who get to see the quilts.

Although my traditional company from up North will not be joining me this year, I will still be going to the Festival part that is open to the public. Classes start tomorrow, Monday, the Vendor area and complete Quilt Show and winners will open at 5:00 PM on Wednesday evening. From then on until late Sunday afternoon, its days and nights of classes, shopping and quilt viewing until even the most un-sophisticated quilter is full to bursting with quilts.

I was downtown today to pick up my class information ( it wasn't ready yet) and got a couple of shots of the sales floor and the quilts displayed.

This thing is huge. If you ever get a chance to come to Houston, try to make it during the Quilt Fetsival. You will not be dissappointed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Make Pom Poms Not War

In a way that seems dinstinctly Brit, there is an organization out there that is making Pom Poms as a statement of peace, love and harmony. After the pom poms are made they will be gathered together and made into one big pom pom. From the organization's manifesto:

Pom Pom International promotes peace and understanding across the world through pom pom making. Transform colourful yarn into a symbol of harmony and innocence!

I love this project. It is just silly enough that it could change the world.

This weekend, while you are hunkering down under the covers trying to avoid turning on the heat, grab some bits of yarn and make a pom pom for peace. Instructions and more information on this project are here.

I wonder if the our newly minted winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and his family would participate if he knew about this project?

Thanks, Selvedge, for reporting on this project.

PS. Apologies for not posting more frequently recently. It seems that helping with Sweet Sadie's has been taking up most of my litle grey cells these days with anything left over devoted to Alex and the Girls. I hope to get back on an even keel soon.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sharing Saturday

This has been an interesting day at Alice's House today.

First of all I turned on the television this morning to catch the weather report and there was a commercial on from Toyota about fuel efficiency. You may have seen it. A couple drives around town squeaking a variety of dog toys trying to find their dog. Their dog just ignores them. Alex on the other hand went crazy. It took him about twenty minutes to realize that there was no squeaky toy hidden in the television set but not before he got stuck behind it.

Hear me Toyota.

I will never buy one of your cars until someone from one of your dealerships comes to my house and puts back all the furniture I had to move to get Alex unstuck from behind the television stand. He got in behind it but couldn't get back out. Not a pretty sight.

Then I decided that it was cool enough to take the dogs on a couple of errands with me including a stop at the pet store. When I know the pet store will be on our route I make sure the dogs have their leashes on for the the whole trip. All went well until the final leg of our trip. As I pulled onto our street Alex let out a scream. I pulled onto the side of the street, put on my blinkers and got out to see what was happening. I opened the back door of the car and found him completely tied up in his leash so that his leg was all twisted up.

While I am trying to untwist him and avoid him trying to help, Kelis and Kimora decided it was time to go walk about. Fortunately the other cars driving by in both directions stopped when they saw my predicament and tried to corral the potential escapees. The Girls were so surprised that their intentions were so transparent that they hopped back into the car on their own.

No damage to Alex but I have learned a lesson about leashes in the car. Though a pain, no leashes until our destinaton, then I wil put the leashes on the dogs and remove them once we get back in the car.

The icing on the cake was that I was working on a sewing project and I looked up and thought I saw the most disgusting spider I have ever seen in my life. It was gross. Here's a quick shot of it from my phone:

Before I squished it I realized it was my latest attempt at the spider for the Kingwood Library quilt. I think its much better than my first attempt and much more realistic. On to the cicada, my other bug.

I hope your weekend has been quieter than mine!