rocket tracking


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Just a little Busy--Poor Fabric Choices in Mid-century Modern

 One of the fun things about being in a quilt guild is you get to see all sorts of things which come through member's hands.  At one of our last stitch-ins with my local guild, the Batty Binder's, Teresa brought in a quilt she was finishing for one of her cousins.  Her cousin had purchase the top, one among several, at an auction or a garage sale, paying a miniscule sum...something like $2.00 per top.

It is easy to see why they weren't finished.  They are sooooo busy that they make for an unsuccessful quilt.  However, to be fair, these were probably made for use and from materials which could be purchased inexpensively or obtains as cutting room scraps....something which used to be very common in garment factories across the U.S.  I remember my mom getting cotton knits from a near by company which made long-johns, underwear, and pajamas.
 I look at the above and cringe....if only she had made those setting squares a solid color...they wouldn't be quite so eye boggling.

But what is really fun is to look at the prints.  All of these date from the 1950s to about 1965.  The quilter had prints in what must have been every single colorway.  Some of them had a humorous aspect...these helmeted conquistadores stood in front of a simplified castle.  I remember having a short set my mother made for me (and matching pedal pushers for my older sister) in about 1963 in a similar print showing stylized sailors. The black print on the blue to the left of the little men is a print of weathervanes.  You can see two more colorways (black on yellow and black on cream) below.  I think Teresa and I counted 5 different colorways of this same print.

Then we got the strips and checks...the the quilter didn't seem to care how they ran....just willy-nilly.  One of my favorites though, is the "fish" or what I call the "paramecium" print....the line oval with the funny little black, or blue, or orange on the versions you get here.  These organic sort of stylized views of what you see under a microscope almost really set the tone for the period for me....along with the boomerangs and kidney shapes on the fiberglass end-tables my mom had in our lake house.  I never really LIKED them, but they intrigued me....just like the diatom print on red (not what they called them, just what I always thought of them as as soon as I saw pictures of diatoms).

Such quilts like these are great for people who study fabric and quilts.  If only they had been dated .  It's great that Teresa is finishing them as that will give them stability as well as make them usable. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday's Wandering

Ruth Treon's Cardinal postcard.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Little Birdies brought to you by Susan Pickrell

I have talked about the talented Susan Pickrell before.  Everytime we have a "Twisted Stitchers" meeting (the subgroup of art quilters with the Batty Binders)  She has a bunch of little fiber things to share.  This time, she was doing birds.  Lots of birds.

These little owlets were done with felting.  But the bigger owl and the little Chickie with two Baguettes below were done from the book below the Chickie, from Little Birds,  by C & T Publisher's Design Collective.  You can get it on Amazon, or your favorite bookstore, or you can get it as an e-book  (or as the real deal) directly from C & T  here.  I have never seen it, but I'm intrigued now that I have seen what Susan has done.

And to show you how modest she is (as well as prolific)  I commented on her gorgeous journal, knowing full well she had done the cover herself.  "Oh, it's just a little ribbon" said Susan.  Right.  Ribbon, machine embroidered peacock feathers on soluble stabilizer, combined with ribbon and other decorations she put together herself...after working...going to a family funeral out-of-state...she's just amazing!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Trout Rising

 I have been working on finishing UFOs (un-Finished Objects) and finally finished this small piece (17.5" x 12.5").  I started it in 2010 for the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge.  I first took grey commericial batik and quilted it over wool with Sulky Sliver thread.  I then took a commercial tone-on tone dot and painted it with Lumiere fabric paints by Jacquard to make the trout's body.

The eye is a bit difficult...and I'm not sure I got it in the right place, but it is a glass animal eye from JHB Buttons.  The dots on the trout's back are regular washers from the hardware store which  I painted with Adirondack alchol dyes.  I then placed a black sequin over the top and held it with a black seed bead. If you're wondering why I chose to use the washers, we were supposed to use something metal in our work. Since I had just participated in an unconventional materials challenge, I thought these were just the thing for this idea.

I wanted to capture the trout just after it landed back into the water after leaping for a you have the disturbance of the splash as well as the ripples from the stream.
I then over-laid many bits and pieces of sheers, topping it off with a grey sheer which I pleated and hand stitched to make it go in the right directions.

After all that, I machine quilted it once again with a grey/green  metallic thread.

I hope to do a series on game fish.  I have several ideas for working on various trout and salmon.....and perhaps there's a bluegill and a sunfish in my future.

Once again, I'm participating with Nina-Marie Sayre's Off-the-wall Friday Fiber blog roll.  Take a look at her website and explore all the other wonderously fiberous things.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Little Red, White and Blue

I am always pleased when quilty friends share antique and vintage quilts they have.  This one I saw last week at our Batty Binder's Quilt Guild's stitching night.  Joyce brought in this quilt she was working on.  The top was from her husband's aunt in about 1915 - 1920.  The ages of these solid quilts are hard to really nail down.  Joyce is hand quilting it in order to finish it.

The pattern is one I recognized as "Crosses and Losses" , but like most patterns, it is known by many names.  Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns (also available as an Ebook by the original publisher, American Quilter's Society here)  and it's accompanying computer program called "Block Base" sold by Electric Quilt is my "go to" quilt references for block names.  Brackman compiled this book from studying early quilt publications, magazines, newspapers, etc. copying down the blocks, making notes and dividing them up into groupings to I.D. them.   This block is 1316a and she gives the names "Double X #2" from Ladies Art Company, "Fox and Geese" or "Crosses and Losses" in Ruth Finley's Patchwork Quilts and the Women who Made Them, "Bow Tie Variation" Robert A. Bishop and Elizabeth Safanda's A Gallery of Amish Quilts and "Goose and Goslings" in Capper's Weekly. 

I love looking through all these old patterns....but not quite as much as seeing them in person, especially when they are owned and loved and being completed after all these years.

If you enjoy quilt history, then you probably would enjoy Barbara Brackman's blog.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Knowing When to Fold--Design Element Decisions

 You've seen this quilt a couple of different renditions.  This is my View from the Abyss.  In November, I added some material on the sides in order to make it the right size for an exhibition.  Their minimum size was 30".  While it was 33" tall, it was only 24" I added panels on the side in order to make it 30".

Then, when I went to enter it in Deux, a Studio Art Quilt Associate's show which was supposed to show a conversation between two pieces, I created this piece, which I called "Progression."  You see, the "View from the Abyss" was supposed to represent depression, looking up from a chasm and related to the way I felt back in 1998 when I was first diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer (for those who don't know, there is no stage V and people with stage IV cancer are given a 10% chance to make it to 5 years after diagnosis).  I was a 38 year old mother of a 4 year old...and I went into a tail spin.

This piece, Progression, was one which related to "Abyss."  Progression is a representation of my reaction to being diagnosed with a recurrence, this time with multiple bone mets.  This happened in 2009, and as I am starting my 3rd year of chemo, I look at life still as golden, but getting narrower and narrower.

Without my telling you this, you wouldn't understand it. This is also probably one of the (many) reasons I didn't make it into Deux.  When  a juror is looking at a piece, it has to speak to them and tell them the story without my narrative.   Obviously, this wasn't done.

Here is "Abyss" in its original form.  I liked the verticality of it and it lost that when I made it wider to fit into the show.  As I looked at it the in preparation for Deux, as well as now, the light area on the left disturbs brings the eye to the outside and it doesn't flow.

I think adding the extra folds of black and taking out the piece improved it, but I don't think that the wider element made it work.

I was preparing the piece to be professionally shot for inclusion in a book and I kept on looking at it in the larger sense.  I had made the appointment to take it in to be shot by a professional photographer because I had a hard time getting this one in focus...and I'm still not sure why, except maybe for my eyesight issues.  The appointment  was for Monday last Sunday, while watching Downtown Abbey, I was cleaning all little bits of fuzz, loose threads and cat hair off it...and I decided this wouldn't do.  I needed to re-make it one more time, cutting off some of the stuff on the sides.

So, here it is in it's final form.  I think it is better than the original, and MUCH better back as the narrower piece.

So...what did I learn?  Don't mess with your basic image to "make it fit" into a show...unless you are George Scilliano who famously took one of his miniature paper pieced wonders and re-blocked it into the right size to get into a show.  Go with your basic feeling...if the design feels right, then do it and let the sizes for shows go to the wind.

In addition, don't make quilts just to fit the theme of a show, unless you really really want to make a piece and have been thinking about it and this show just happened to come along.  It is much better to make art which makes you happy and find shows to enter after the fact.  Your design will be much better....and you will be much saner and happier in the long run.

Just curious...which rendition do you think is better and why?

Once again, I'm playing along with Nina-Marie Sayer and am participating in her Off-the-Wall Fiber Friday...even if it is Saturday.  Day late, dollar short that's me!  You can find lots of other wonderful fibery stuff at her blog here.  (  )

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Cancer Survivor and Cyclist's Thoughts on Lance Armstrong

I must admit....I have been somewhat mystified over the kerfuffle about Lance Armstrong.  When I heard about the move to strip him of his titles I wondered who in the heck he ticked off.  Why? Because professional bike racing is a very dirty sport.  Doping among cyclists is common in Europe....and I would bet that if all the Tour de France winners over the last 20 years were exposed to as much interrogation and investigation as Lance Armstrong has, they would be hard pressed to find anyone who would  retain the yellow jersey.

I have followed the Tour from my armchair for years.  You see, I once was an avid cyclist.  I met my husband in the Middlesex County Bike Club (Middletown, CT)  in the 1980s.  He started amateur racing at age 14 and raced in criteriums and triathlons until 1995 when the demands of a 2 year old child and a house and job made it a bit difficult to train.  As a member of the Bike Club, and actually for a year before I was a member, I volunteered to work at the Andy Raymond Firecracker Criterium in Middletown, CT.  There, I got to meet many top flight cyclists from the U.S., as well as Europeans who came over to the U.S. to Ride. I was a fairly fast recreational rider (I averaged between 16 and 18 mph over a 30 mile period regularly riding in the hills of Connecticut) and enjoyed it immensely.

In  addition, like Lance, I am a stage IV cancer survivor.  He and I went through treatment at about the same time.  For cancer survivors, Lance is, and will remain, an icon and someone who has done a heck of a lot for    cancer patients.  His Livestrong Foundation has done a lot to help and raise addition, the fact that he was able to win after cancer treatment is still a major beacon of hope in a world which can be awfully dark.  Armstrong encourages people to make healthy choices in life and educates cancer patients in how they can exercise  eat better and obtain their maximum health. I regret that I cannot do many of the things the organization advocates, including ride, because of the damage to my hip from a fracture caused by bone mets in 2009...11 years after my original Stage IV diagnosis.

Don't get me wrong....I don't like it when people lie.  But, doping or not, the Tour de France remains undeniably the hardest athletic event in the world.  I don't know of many athletes who can ride 21 days out of 23 up mountains and down at amazing speeds.  Yes, I get is a team sport....but it is an amazing feat for anyone to accomplish.

I am sure that Lance Armstrong probably has the arrogance that many athletes at this level and in this particular sport has...but I'm guessing because I have never met the man.  If I ever did, I would shake his hand and say "thanks."  I'm sad that he stepped away from the Livestrong Foundation.  I am sad that his career is being tarnished like this... and yes, I suppose he brought it upon himself.  However, his accomplishments, in biking, as a survivor, and in the amount he has given to the sport of cycling and to the Livestrong Foundation still leaves me in  awe.

Monday, January 14, 2013

"It's Cheaper to Eat Out" NOT!

All last summer I listened to an advertisement for a chain steak house saying it was cheaper to eat out than to eat at home.  I thought "Well, they are trying to sell their store, but how stupid do they think we are?"

Then, I got a quarterly little magazine from the real estate agent who sold us our house.  In it, they had an article on how it was cheaper to eat out than in.
I snorted.  Evidently, many people think American's are stupid as well as gullible.

In the article, they said that to have a steak dinner with salad, bread and asparagus, and a baked potato cost $13.99 at a restaurant, they then pointed out that cost $3.99 for a pound of asparagus, a bag of potatoes was $2.99, a bag of salad was $2.99 and steak was $8.99 a pound, and a loaf of bread was $2.99.  Therefore, they asserted that it was cheaper to go out and buy the steak dinner.

Well..hmmm.  They forgot is quantity that they were measuring and blythely forgetting that the bag of salad served a minimum of four people, a pound of asparagus serves 2 - 4 people, a bag of potatoes serves at least 6 people if not more....and frankly, a pound of meat is more than one person should eat at a sitting.  Not to mention that not a lot of places have that sort of a meal for $13.99 anymore.

Yes, I get a little bit irritated because I often have to throw out food here...someone I live with doesn't look in the fridge to eat leftovers...and I often cook too much when I am cooking for two.  I forget that I should freeze some of the left overs before I get too tired of eating the beef/barley/mushroom stew I made a while ago.  I made a big batch because my daughter was home and she usually eats a fair amount (she runs long distance).

It got me into trouble yesterday.  I took out the leftover stew, and there was about one bowl left that had to be thrown out.  Since it was very low in fat, I ran the water in the disposal and slowly fed the leftovers to it as it had been 2 weeks since I made it and it and I were beginning to spout baby mushrooms.  I was running the water with the disposal going...and I noticed that water was beginning to come up on the opposite sink.

We plunged it.  Nothing.  We treated it with Liquid Plumber.  Nothing.  We let it sit overnight.  Nothing.  My husband took apart the sink trap...nothing.  He snaked it.  Nothing.  Then he and I went downstairs.

The couple we bought the house from had sort of finished the basement.  The man of the house was described as "a brilliant engineer" by my one neighbor, while my other neighbor said "really? I thought he was in sales. "  I think my second neighbor had it dead on as I noticed annoying things about the "finish" job.  First, the hung ceiling wasn't level.  Then, I discovered he didn't insulate the wall before he put up the drywall.  The trim looked like it had been cut with a hack saw.  When we started to wire a new ceiling fixture and outlet for my quilting machine we discovered irregularities (junction boxes in the wrong spot).

But...the piece de resistance came today.  We went down to try to figure out what was going on....My husband looked as he knew there had to be a clean out....and discovered the very bottom, behind a drywall enclosure where you couldn't reach it without putting a hole in the wall was.. the cleanout.

Since we have no sink, and you can't run the dishwasher because it goes into the same drain which is plugged....we went out to dinner.  And yes, it cost more and wasn't the quality that I would have made...but someone else did the dishes. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lem the Christmas Tree Sprite

Today, I took down the Christmas tree.  Lem, who is now about 5 years old loved to climb the tree when he was little.  Now, he tips the scale at about 12 pounds.  Fortunately, he limits his climbing to when we are decorating the tree and when I am taking it down, but most of the ornaments are off.

Considering most of my ornaments are hand blown glass, including quite a few antiques....I am grateful.

Even if he bends the limbs a bit now....and yes...I had to to to an artificial tree in 2006.  While I like the fact that I can put it up and take it down when I want, I do miss the fresh tree smell and the wonderful time I had with my family present and past going out and cutting a tree at a farm.